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Bad Influences

July 2, 2013

I suspect I’ll never figure out what factors led me to conclude that having children would be a lousy idea. My parents were, it should go without saying, not exactly role models for the childfree lifestyle, although my dad was perpetually quick to assert that “one was enough” when asked if he and my mom were planning to give me siblings. (I’d have to agree with his assessment. Being an only child rocked.)

In fact, in spite of my mother’s insistence that she didn’t care for babies or very small children (“fucking hated” them might have been her actual words–I know exactly where my potty mouth came from), I seem to recall her kind of sort of wanting to have another daughter (but not a son. Boys grew up to be men, and men sucked).

There was also that business when I was twenty, my period was a bit overdue, and when I tried to reassure myself by saying, “It’s impossible! Why, during my probable ovulation two weeks ago, I was…” I groped mentally for the explanation that involved me reading chastely in my nun-like cloister, secluded from human contact of the sperm-producing variety, “…visiting my boyfriend. Whose parents were out of town.”

So I was a little unfocused when I talked to my mother. And in spite of my mental insistence that I was under no circumstances going to tell my parents anything at any time, regardless of the outcome, I somehow blurted out my need for a pregnancy test as I was headed out the door for work. My mother, to whom I’d only recently confessed to no longer being a virgin (finally deciding to end one of her anti-men tirades that focused on how they corrupt women with their penises and I should never let myself be corrupted by sighing and saying, “Mom, have a seat. No really, sit down. I have something to tell you”) and who I assumed would promptly rip my head off and shove it up the new asshole she’d also rip for me, simply nodded and said, “If you have a girl, I get to dress her up!”

After bracing myself to cower as I gave the explanation that we had, in fact, used condoms, all I could muster was a, “Uh…please for the love of any powers that might be don’t tell Dad” (a.k.a., from her perspective, “your father” in a tone of voice that could be used to re-freeze ice cream on a hot day) and a promise to call with whatever the results of the test were.

Fortunately, it came up negative. Also fortunately and highly coincidentally, my father the M.D. called me a few days later to mention that one of his partners would be happy to write me a prescription for birth control if I’d come in for an exam, and that it was his medical opinion that I should really take her up on it. I did, but when I mentioned the questionable timing of that conversation to my mother, she swore up and down that she never said a word.

So with one parent evidently cheering on the ruination of her daughter’s life because yay! grandbabies!, the roots of my yearning to never provide said grandbabies ever remain a mystery.

Less so the roots of my newfound interest in celibacy. When I recently visited my dad in Wyoming, we spent the last night of my trip watching Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, cheering for my dead mother’s beloved Blackhawks. Somehow, the topic of cleaning–a task which is not among my talents–came up.

“What if you bring a date over to your apartment? He’s not going to be very impressed.”

“Actually…” I sighed, given how quickly my lines of thought on this topic are usually dismissed, “I doubt I’ll be bringing a date over any time soon.”

“Why not?”

I braced myself. “I’m just…not interested. I didn’t really want to be in a relationship the last time I was in one, and I feel much happier not being one and not looking for one now.”

My dad nodded and frowned at the game. The Bruins were winning, but the Hawks appeared to be closing in. “What about…you know, hormones?”

I didn’t really want to get into that one in too much detail, so I said, “I haven’t really been interested in that, either. And if I do get interested, I remind myself what the consequences are.”

We both stared at the game some more, impressed at how aggressive the Hawks were getting. “Well, good for you,” he finally said. “It’s tough living asexually, but boy, when I think of all the major mistakes I’ve made in life, nine out of ten of ’em were because of women.”

The Hawks scored. We celebrated in silence, being surrounded by Boston fans as well as the almost-palpable memory of my not-altogether-mentally-sound mother.

The game ended regulation time with a tie, so we made a quick break from the bar to my dad’s house to watch the OT periods–all three of ’em, a win that would pave the way for the Blackhawks to gain the Cup again for the second time in three years. Given that my mother’s beloved Cubs still suck, however, I still stand by my atheism.

On our way out that night, however, my dad said, “But you should still clean your apartment more.”

“Okay, Dad.”

Several weeks later, I still have yet to scrub the bathroom. I have, however, secured an opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Beaver Creek Rodeo in August, written a short script for a group of filmmakers working on Ron Howard’s Project Imaginat10n, and am currently studying a script for another short independent film in which I am playing a leading character. Maybe I’d have been similarly bold and ambitious if I’d been in a relationship with my ex or anyone else, but with no one else’s issues holding me back, the future seems wide open.

Although I do think a full-on scrubdown of my apartment needs to be included somewhere in that future. If for no other reason than my dad’s inevitable and increasing visits when he needs a respite from the infestations of stepgrandchildren that are doubtlessly coming his way all too soon.


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  1. Part of the fucked up thing with life is you’re sort of stuck trying to figure out everything at once. How can you realistically focus 100% on school/career if you have a wife or husband and kids on your mind as well? You can’t really, I don’t care what anyone says. Why can’t we spread this stuff out a bit?

    • I totally agree with Don. Balancing careers and marriage and kids and life is like juggling knives, that are on fire. That’s why I stopped after one child and promptly got divorced haha. Okay, that’s probably not funny. Well maybe a little bit. Whatever. Rock on lady – you’re getting shit done, and I respect it.

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