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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G.
Chapter 34 – “Vows.”
Warning, severe plot twist coming. Here we go: I got married. “WTF?” I hear you saying. Yup, it was a shock to many people. This is probably where we should cue up some eerie and ominous sound effects. Asking my friends to suggest the most disturbing music they’ve ever heard resulted in a number of interesting replies, including “Psycho” by Bernard Herrmann.
“Macarena” by Los Del Rio.
“The Isle of the Dead” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
“Yummy Yummy Yummy” by Ohio Express
Overture to “The Flying Dutchman” by Richard Wagner.
Anything by Raffi, Kenny G, or Mannheim Steamroller.
“Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by J.S. Bach.
Anything by Pat Boone, Michael Bolton, or the Black Eyed Peas.
My personal pick might be Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” not only because it was written while the composer was in a concentration camp but also because it deliberately plays with the concept of tempo, always pulling the ground out from under the listener.
Anyway, the point is that the marriage did not work out. Which was too bad in many ways. Unlike a lot of people, I took the marriage vows seriously. In fact, not only was I proud to be married, I even liked wearing my wedding ring. For me, getting married represented commitment, maturity, and steadfastness. But . . .
Turns out that ten good years was all we would have. Better than many couples, but not like my mom and dad who made it all the way to their Golden Anniversary (that’s 50 years, in case you didn’t know, and why should you since no one achieves that anymore).
For much of our very lovely decade, I worked at advertising agencies and she taught ballet. This put us on an odd and mismatched schedule. I would leave home around 7:30 in the morning and return twelve hours later. She would leave home around 11:00 in the morning and return twelve hours later.
Perhaps we enjoyed ten good years because we only saw each other on weekends. And then, of course, about all we could do was attempt to get the chores done and catch up on sleep.
How did we meet? We were introduced by our parents. Awwww, isn’t that just the cutest?! And right away, it seemed like a good match. We liked being with each other. We enjoyed talking as much as we enjoyed the silences between the conversations. We liked music. We liked art. We like dance, which surprised some people. Well, since she was a dancer, her love of ballet was not a surprise, but it struck many people as odd for me.
“It’s amazing to find a straight man who will go to the ballet,” was one way this got expressed. (Note to straight guys who are thinking of taking their wives or girlfriends to the ballet: yes, you will be checked out by gay guys in the audience, but you will also be checked out by straight women in the audience; and yes, the wife or girlfriend will love you for taking her.)
We dated for a couple of years and then Things Got Serious, as things often do, and I professed my love. Looking back on it, I realize now that I had only known infatuation and lust in my life. Sure, there was a certain amount of love in there, too, but it was love of a different kind. For example: I loved my parents, I loved most of my parents’ cats, I loved sushi, and I loved every girl I had been with in any kind of amatory relationship. But that is not the same type of love you have for “the one.” I truly believed she was the one.
We planned our wedding over and over again, carefully selecting music, poems, decorations, invitations, guest lists, seating arrangements. You know, all the usual crap. We had a few areas of disagreement: I wanted to get married on top of a mountain; she wanted to be in a church. We compromised by doing both.
We invited all my friends to meet us atop the Santa Monica Mountains on a Saturday afternoon in May. Meanwhile, our families and all her friends were invited to come to a church on the following Sunday afternoon. We played the same music both days. We read the same poems both days. We said the same vows both days. As far as I was concerned, we were married on both days, yet she publically acknowledged only the second one. Certainly this was a very minor point but perhaps it was a portent of things to come.
One of our stated understandings was that we would not have children. Allow me to tell every male reader that when a woman agrees to this, she’s probably lying. Oh sure, they admit that children are time-consuming career-killing energy-sapping sleep-interrupting speed bumps on the road of life. And they admit that just by having the discussion about not having them proves that at least one of the two partners is probably too immature to be a parent.
And then they begin a long campaign to get you to change your mind and have children.
The CBD (Campaign to Break the Deal) took many forms and came at me from many directions. I heard about the joy of children from her, her friends, our neighbors, her family, my mother, and several marriage and family counselors. I noticed that we switched counselors every time one of them acknowledged my side of the discussion and/or pointed out the morality of living up to an agreement.
After a certain length of time had gone by, a period that lasted for, oh now let me see, about ten years, during which I was the target of hints, tears, threats, pleading, pouting, and prevaricating, I finally gave in. There were promises made on her part, like “I won’t let the baby interfere with your career,” but all of these statements are, as you know, ACOS (A Crock of Shit). If you become a parent, you devote time to raising your child, and that time has to come from somewhere. You sleep less, you work less, you sleep less, you read less, you sleep less, you go out less, you sleep less, you pursue your dreams less, and you sleep less.
You also buy more stuff, but it’s not stuff you originally wanted to buy . . .
“Wow, look at that full 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary,” you say to yourself, “I would love to buy that. Too bad I’m buying a stroller and a car seat.”
“Oooh, ‘The Complete Recordings of Mahler’ is on sale at a pretty good price! Too bad I’m taking out a life insurance policy for the kid.”
“It would be so great to have the den sound system designed by Matt Forger, but instead we’ll be baby-proofing the house and getting a good crib.”
And so on.
Making a baby is harder than it looks. Not the doing it part, the pregnancy part. After a lot of trying and studying the calendar and taking her temperature and going to the doctor and having tests and my switching from briefs to boxers, it turned out that nothing was wrong. So we tried some more. To no avail.
We were told that artificial insemination wasn’t absolutely needed but that there was nothing preventing us from using it. So we used it.
Let me tell you that it’s not very romantic. First, there’s the fact that artificial insemination is widely used for breeding livestock, most especially for dairy cattle and pigs, and that those techniques have been adapted for humans. Charming.
Then there’s the matter of, um, collection.
“Collection of what?” my book editor wrote on the first draft of this chapter. She then e-mailed the chapter to me with her note in red.
“Sperm,” I e-mailed back. Which led to a very strange exchange of e-mails involving her, her husband, and at least three attorneys. Fortunately, we got that straightened out, no pun intended. So now I will continue writing about artificial insemination from the male point of view.
“Do you prefer magazines or movies?”
That’s the question the nurse asked me the first time I showed up at the fertility clinic in the big medical center. I was there to do my part in our grand and glorious science project called “Babymaking: Technology in Your Tummy, Part One: The Internal Uprising.”
“Um, I don’t know what you’re asking,” I told the nurse.
“Well, we have a very good selection of adult literature and motion pictures which you may take with you into the privacy room for stimulation,” she told me while smiling efficiently. “We want to help you do your part.”
My part in all this was fairly simple: all I had to do was get excited, achieve orgasm, and capture the result of my climax in a plastic cup that was, quite frankly, depressingly small.
I took a very quick peek at some of their “very good selection” of materials and found them lacking. Well, first I had to answer the voice in my noggin that was telling me Do Not Touch Any Of These Materials! But there were little dispensers of latex gloves on the walls, so I gloved up. “No glove, no love,” I told myself.
Perusing the materials wasn’t helpful. They didn’t do anything for me. The good-looking women were not well-photographed and the well-photographed women were not good-looking. This just seemed wrong on a couple of levels. Why can’t they all be good-looking women who were working with good photographers and cinematographers? I’m just asking.
I decided to use my imagination. Meaning that my child’s conception may have begun while I was thinking of fantasy images of women I only knew from movies. For example:
Jennifer Tilly in Let it Ride.
Martha Vickers in The Big Sleep.
Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.
Angie Dickinson in Pretty Maids All in a Row.
Caroline Munro in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.
And let us not forget Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Ecstasy. Who? What? She later became Hedy Lamarr and the film is sometimes credited as being the first mainstream movie with a sex scene. It was banned from the U.S. and denounced by the Pope so you know it has some Good Stuff in it once you get past the subtitles.
TheTime, The Place, and The Baster
No matter how I got things going, it had to be going in such a way that there was only a short time between my moment of ahhhhhhhh and the moment when the white-coated technicians put the stuff into a centrifuge or electron super collider or nuclear reactor or whatever the hell they did back there in their lab.
Once that was done, the sperm scientists did what they needed to do with my wife. She told me of the procedure and I have to say that I didn’t really believe the part about the turkey baster so she insisted that I accompany her the next time and damned if she wasn’t right.
“That does look like a turkey baster,” I admitted.
“That’s what we call it,” the technician said.
And then we’d go home to wait and when nothing happened, we’d all get together and do it again. This went on for months.
At this point, I’d like to tell you a bit about The Little Rooms, or what the nurse called a “privacy room.” That’s where they sent us guys when we showed to, um, well, let me tell you the way I overheard one nurse explain it to another: “They go in, they get it up, they get it out, they give it to us, we whip it up, and we put it in.”
The Little Rooms were a hodgepodge of whatever space could be commandeered by the fertility clinic within the large med center. The best spaces were part of a lunch room that had been re-partitioned to create several Little Rooms. But in returning again and again to this sterile (I hope) environment, I found myself in a variety of locations: a storage room, a rest room, a broom closet, and a couple of rooms that had lots of plumbing and/or electrical equipment; some of it was humming, which seemed to be mocking me, but was probably controlling important mechanical functions of the building.
I would go into one of these rooms, clear my mind, think of one of those aforementioned babes, or possibly Lana Wood (as Plenty O’Toole) or Jill St. John (as Tiffany Case), both in Diamonds Are Forever, and, uh . . . Sorry, got distracted. So I’d go in the room and I would dutifully get to work on making a baby. Kinda-sorta.
“Man, I hate that I have to have such good aim,” I thought to myself, eying that damn small cup. But that wasn’t the worst of my experiences.
Meet and Greet
One time, I was, um, finishing, when I heard voices outside the door. For about the fourteenth time, I checked to see that the door was locked. Despite the muffled nearby voices, I managed to successfully complete the mission. After getting myself back together (which, let’s face it, really just meant zipping up), I was ready to take the distressingly diminutive plastic container to the lab people but there was still some sort of group discussion going on in the room outside the Little Room.
Now what? Do I try to wait until those people leave? Do I just saunter out with the container in my hand? A couple minutes went by while I pressed my ear against the door to eavesdrop on the meeting. From what I could tell, it was some sort of community outreach session in which a couple of the medical center administrators were letting neighborhood residents and business-owners learn about the facilities.
With another look at my watch, I gave up waiting, unlocked the door, and sauntered out. The crowd turned to look at me, so I looked back. They were a nicely dressed group, although the med center guys had a suit-and-tie look while the visitors’ attire was more a casual Friday sort of thing.
“Hi everybody,” I said. “Sorry for interrupting. I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation; I had my ear to the door. I’ll be on my way now but just let me say I hope all of you will be as excited as I was about this place. My experiences here have been both stimulating and uplifting.”
“Thank you, young man,” one of the suits said to me. “We appreciate hearing that and glad we ran into you here today!”
“No problem,” I replied. “I can assure you that I was very happy to come.”
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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten.