I'm going to start with a dream sequence that may explain why I'm such a weirdo.
• • •
Diane Trexler sat up in the hospital bed, holding her newborn son. The birth had been just as painful as the Adoption: The Smart Choice pamphlets promised, but now she was truly happy.
Her friends Maxine, Louise, and Elaine entered the room, bursting with excitement. "Let me see him!" said Maxine. "Oooh, he's so precious!"
"What a little darling!" Louise exclaimed.
"A sweetheart!" Elaine added.
"Ooooooooooooooooh!" the three women said in unison.
"Can I hold him?" Maxine asked. Diane nodded and handed over the child. "Oh, isn't he beautiful?" Maxine pressed her face to the child's. "Are you beautiful? Yes you are, yes you are, yes you are! Just think, I could be holding a future president of the United States right now!"
"Or a famous surgeon!" Louise exclaimed.
"Or a Pulitzer-Prize winning author!" Elaine added.
Louise took the baby and cooed.. "And he even has his father's eyes! See him smile? Diane, he has your dimples!"
"Of course, you'll want to start saving for a nose job," Elaine remarked.
"What?" Diane asked.
"Well, look at that thing. It looks like an oversized lump of Silly Putty."
The other women murmured in agreement.
"He has the same nose as my mother!" Diane protested.
"She didn't exactly have men breaking down her door after your father died, did she?" Maxine pointed out. "Oh, but look at those little hands!"
"Let me hold the sweet angel," said Elaine.
"Here you go," said Louise, handing over the infant. "Just watch out for his breath."
"What's wrong with his breath?" Diane demanded.
"Oh, don't be naive. Your child's breath could burn a hole through an armored car."
"Babies don't have bad breath!" Diane insisted.
"You're right," Maxine agreed. "It must be a medical problem."
"There's nothing wrong with him!" Diane snatched back her baby.
"So what did you name the little heartbreaker?" Elaine asked.
The other women groaned. "Well," said Maxine, "I hope you know a good doctor for when the other kids kick the living crap out of him every day at school."
"We named him after his great uncle!"
"No! The scientist!"
Elaine sighed. "Oh, wonderful. So your son is going to be a total geek."
"I'll have you know that my great uncle Abner did vital medical research."
"Then your son stands a good chance of catching an infectious disease in the line of duty," Louise pointed out.
"Oh, I hope it isn't a horribly debilitating bacteria," said Maxine. "It would be a shame for such a precious child to die a misshapen, pus-oozing freak."
"Hidden from the rest of humanity," Elaine elaborated, "living in misery, sleeping in his own vile excrement..."
"...cursing the forces that condemned him to this soulless existence..."
"...holding the rusty razor blade to his wrist, working up the courage..."
"...and finally, as the hot crimson blood jettisons from his savaged flesh, shrieking 'Why, Mother, why?' at the top of his phlegm-clogged lungs."
Diane stared at her friends for a long moment, then burst into tears.
"Oh, now you're upsetting the little darling," said Louise, taking the baby. "I hate to see such a lovely child cry."
"And he's truly a beautiful baby," said Elaine.
• • •
This was an actual dream my mom had before I was born. Depending on how much she's had to drink, when she reaches this point of the story she'll either say "And then I woke up screaming," or let out a shriek that could dislodge any kidney stone within a hundred feet. Mom's pretty laid-back and conservative, but she doesn't handle alcohol well.
She was eight months pregnant when she had the nightmare, and had been suffering juuuuuuuuuust a bit of angst over having a child. My dad was having a smidgen of angst himself, considering that they weren't married, weren't out of college, and he hadn't even worked up the nerve to tell his parents. But, as he did every night that she spent in his dorm room, he tried to reassure her.
"Everything is going to be okay, sweetie."
"Oh, Howard, do you really think our child will turn out all right? I mean, he isjust the product of a discount condom...what if that affects him throughout his life?"
"He'll be fine, sweetheart. We'll be wonderful parents. I know the pregnancy was just as unexpected for us as the conception was for all those people who were there when the elevator doors opened, but we'll do great."
"Do you really think so?"
"Yes, I do. And the whole situation is filled with benefits. Now when somebody asks you if you're pregnant, you don't have to take it as an insult."
"I love you, honey," said my mom, snuggling up against him. "But can I ask a favor?"
"Could we name our son something besides Abner?"
"Sure we can. I still kinda like Seth. Go back to sleep, sweetie. And don't worry, our son will make us proud."
• • •
Note to readers named Abner: Please feel free to revise the previous section to read "Milton."
• • •
Note to readers named Milton: Please feel free to leave the previous section as "Abner."
• • •
Though I was definitely present, my actual birth is not at the forefront of my memory. But apparently it was quite an event. My mom went into labor in the middle of one of the worst snowstorms in recorded history. She was watching TV in her dorm room with her roommate Sally Harpesty and Sally's nerd boyfriend Chuck. My dad was in his own dorm studying for his Sex Education final, which he eventually failed. Here's a transcript of what happened, and please keep the accusations of "creative license" or "slight exaggeration" or "blatant lying" to yourself.
• • •
TV ANNOUNCER: ...that's right, this amazing watch is truly a bargain. Any watch can tell you the time and date, but the incredible SPUD 2000 also goes "beep" every hour on the hour. And that's not all! It also differentiates between a.m. and p.m. to protect against those inconvenient --
NEWSCASTER: We interrupt this program to bring you this important announcement. The plows are trying hard, but most of the area remains snowed-in. If you have a pregnant woman around who's ready to go into labor at any time, it's time to get out that book on home delivery.
[Mom grits her teeth and winces in pain.]
SALLY: You know, you've been having these sharp pains for the past few hours. Are you sure you're okay?
MOM: Yeah. It was probably just the chicken bone I had last night.
SALLY'S NERD BOYFRIEND CHUCK: But the pains are hitting at shorter and shorter intervals? Don't you think you should see a doctor or something? It could be your appendix!
[Something quite gross happens, which I shan't describe here.]
SALLY: OH MY GOD!!! I think she's about to become unpregnant!
MOM: Pant, pant, gasp, gasp, moan, moan, grunt, grunt!
SALLY: Take Chuck's hand! Squeeze it if you feel pain!
[Mom takes Chuck's hand.]
SALLY: All right, go for it! Go, go, go!
[Sound of bones breaking.]
CHUCK: Aaaargh! My hand! My hand! This bitch is crushing my hand!
SALLY: I think it's coming!
MOM: I'd appreciate it very much if somebody would kill me now.
SALLY: I can see the head! Oh, yuck, it's got gook all over it!
CHUCK: Aaaaaaargh! Get her off me! Get her off me!
[Chuck bites down on Mom's hand to loosen her grip.]
SALLY: It's a...a...a...dang, it's all the way out and I still can't tell what it is. A boy, I think. Congratulations!
Soon after my birth, my parents graduated, got married, moved into their own home, and finally informed my dad's parents that they were now grandparents. And we became one happy family.
Copyright © 2004 by Jeff Strand