For the past three years, when this season rolls around I am struck with a profound melancholy. The summer arrives and when I behold nature strutting its stuff, children laughing and shrieking under an open hydrant’s torrent and the acres of nubile female flesh shaking off the test drive of springtime revelation after being buried for months beneath fall and winter layers and getting down to the business of hot weather display, I am pointedly reminded of the time three years past when I was told that I was going to be a father.
Let’s set the Wayback Machine and I’ll fill you in.
In the year 2000 I finally got off my ass and had my first full checkup in at least a decade and was not surprised to discover that my blood pressure was dangerously high and that I had developed adult-onset diabetes (which, in case you didn’t know, has some deleterious effects upon one’s manly hydraulics, rendering the Johnson operative on an iffy basis; hey, if Richard “Shaft” Roundtree can talk about having had breast cancer then I can talk about this. Thank the gods I was bitten by a radioactive lesbian), both conditions that are common to my mother’s side of the family. Along with those discoveries I was also told that my sperm count was so low that the chances of fathering a child were pretty much nil, a piece of news that seriously bummed me out since I have always wanted to unleash a gaggle of Bunchely daughters upon the world, but you have to take the hand that you are dealt, so I just accepted the diagnosis as gospel. I continued to practice safe sex from that point on, with the exception of a couple of women who I knew I could trust not to put my penis — not to mention my life! — in jeopardy if I “rode bareback,” secure in the knowledge that my line would not continue unless I adopted (or my long-out-of-contact half-sibs decide to spawn).
For some time I had been involved in an on-again-off-again affair of rampant carnality with a friend I had known since the first day of freshman orientation in the fall of 1983, in fact she was the very first person I met when I set foot on the campus of SUNY at Purchase. We became friends during our second year and she began a long-term relationship with the man who would eventually become her husband and father of her son, and since life sometimes throws you a serious curveball, she and her man separated in 1995, freeing her for other romantic pursuits. Namely me, who had nursed a longstanding crush on her for her intelligence, respect for ancient lore and arts, and her earthy Wiccan sexiness.
This goddess of British-Nova Scotian stock stood nearly six feet tall, sported brownish/blonde shoulder length hair and had a pair of blue eyes that turned her foxy, knowing smile into a hypnotic jab that could stop me in my tracks. Our trysts were limited to her school-related availability or whenever her son was away visiting his father, and I must say that she remains a favorite, one whose mere memory still brings a wistful smile to my face and not-so-pure thoughts to my febrile brain.
Yet while we enjoyed each other physically, we were definitely not in love with each other; the strong friendship was there, but since we lived so far apart — she’s nearly two hours upstate — and had only sporadic windows open for any flaming osh-osh, we both actively pursued other possible mates with gusto. And so it went until the summer of 2002, when the woman who had owned a large portion of my heart for nearly twenty years divorced her philandering idiot of a husband, left Georgia and moved to Brooklyn. Upon getting the news of this development my plans immediately began to formulate toward making the returning expatriate my full-time squeeze, but first I would have to bring things with the Wiccan wonder to a close.
I informed her of the situation and since she knew of my feelings for the other woman, she let me know that it was cool for me to go off in that direction. We then decided to get together for one last weekend, and what a weekend it turned out to be... To put it bluntly without getting too graphic, we explored each other with abandon, knowing that this would most likely be the last time we would ever share our bodies, and consequently we wore each other out, all in the name of sending each other on our way with a happy memory. Adding to the fun was the bonus of our farewell foray being utterly condomless for the only time in our five years of making with the good stuff.
I returned to Brooklyn to begin active pursuit of the newly returned inamorata, a task that wasn’t very difficult and yielded much naughty fun; a mating dance that went on for a couple of weeks and gave both participants a lot of much needed, loving comfort. Then, one day I returned home from work to find an urgent phone message from my upstate lady friend that requested I call her immediately. I dropped my book bag and punched in her number. She picked up the phone immediately and said in an ominous tone “Are you sitting down? I’m pregnant.”
My knees literally went weak and my senses reeled; I trusted the lady implicitly, so there was no doubt in my mind as to the truth of her claims and I knew that I was the only man she had been with for some time, but her announcement meant that my diagnosis of sterility was obviously incorrect. And, as she so enthusiastically put it, I had also given the finger to occasional erectile dysfunction.
But before those two bombshells could sink in, she very quickly let it be known that she was notifying me of her pregnancy solely so I’d know, and that she didn’t want any form of support from me for the child.
That stunned me more than the sudden possibility of fatherhood; if there’s one thing that I can say it’s that I was the son of a man who every day reminded me through either words or behavior that I was a disappointment to him and that he could not have cared less about me. He had money and when he and my mom split up he directed his attention toward establishing a new family that fit more closely with his fantasies and withdrew any form of child support or alimony payments, forcing my mother to toil thanklessly in soul-killing jobs in the Connecticut school system and work with unwed mothers/mental cases/delinquents, all while she carried a burning hatred for men in general and harboring a none-too-well-hidden resentment of the fact that her only child was male. Don’t get me wrong, my mother loved me, but her love was not without its long-term emotional abuse, a pattern that continues to this day. I bring all of this up to make clear that if I ever do have children I will be there 24/7 for them, and shower them with as much love and attention as I possibly can. And then some. So my lady friend’s desire for no involvement from me did not sit well with me one iota.
I explained that point of view, even suggesting that I could eventually move upstate to be with her and the baby, but she didn’t want that, reminding me of the fact that we were not “in love” per se. I then attempted to appeal to the practical reality of the situation, namely that she already had an adolescent son whom she was struggling to support, and that I didn’t have a salary that would yet allow me to properly care for the baby’s needs. The simple fact of the matter was that I didn’t think it was a good idea for her to have the baby. She informed me flat out that she would not have an abortion, and being a Pro-Choicer I agree that it’s her body and she can do with it as she pleases, but I strongly argued against keeping the kid.
Thus was an impasse reached.
We talked back and forth for almost a week on the subject, making no headway, and she agreed to come down for a weekend so we could try to figure out some course of action that would work. However, by the end of the week she had decided that an abortion was the most viable option since I “wasn’t ready for parenthood.” That fucking stung, since I honestly don’t think that my readiness was the central issue at all. I knew from previous conversations years earlier that she held out hope for someday become a mother for a second time and as we were both rapidly approaching middle age at that time this child might be her last chance. And, as she pointed out to me, I had beaten some pretty major odds to get her pregnant and it might be my last shot as well, no pun intended. I understood that all too well, but I had to remind her that a child is not some sort of accessory or plaything, but a living, breathing, feeling individual human being that we would be raising for the next couple of decades, a venture not to be entered into without some thought for the child’s security. Seeing how she was already a single parent who was dealing with the harsh reality of dealing with her son’s well being I couldn’t believe that I was being vilified, but as they say, motherhood is a powerful thing indeed.
The abortion was agreed upon and I took care of the financial end of things; she tells me that she took something akin to the “morning after” pill and that it was no more physically traumatic than getting her monthly, but when the smoke finally cleared and we were able to really talk again she told me in no uncertain terms that she hated me for quite a while. To be honest, our friendship has never really recovered and her somewhat solitary nature has intensified to the point of her not really communicating with me at all, politely brushing aside my attempts at phone or email chats. It saddens me deeply since I value her friendship and frequently wise counsel, but if she’s more comfortable without being my friend then so be it. A damned shame, really.
So now when I gather with my extended family and see their wonderful little ones I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if keeping the baby with my lady friend had been feasible. I would like to think that I’d be a good parent, but who knows if I’ll ever get the chance again?
Now that I have thoroughly brought myself and you down, I recommend doing something upbeat such as watching a classic comedy film or calling up your own parents — if they did right by you — and letting them know that you, their former little one, are glad they were around.