This is chapter two in a series written by Andy (Mac's dad). To catch-up on chapter one please click here.
The elation I felt as the families shared their co-parenting stories quickly morphed into dread when the host took back the microphone and announced that she'd like each of us to stand and tell a little about him- or herself. Or, as it turned out for the female couples, the one whose idea it was to come could do the talking while the other sat arms-folded deciding whether to be resentful or appreciative for being dragged to a Sperm and Egg Mixer, depending on how it all turned out.
Row by row, the mic made the rounds, but I was too nervous to hear anyone else's introduction. I had no idea what to say. After 12 years in New York, I was still quick to point out that I was from Ohio in these situations, as if to excuse myself for not being a polished New Yorker. I’d have to wing it, and follow the advice of every sitcom I had ever seen, each drilling home the same Jan-Brady lesson: just be yourself.
I stood up, and started with the usual basics: name, age, neighborhood and profession. But then, something like this came out:
"I'm from Ohio, and my family is very close. One of my brothers is getting married this summer, and we grew up with a lot of cousins, so I thought now would be a great time to start a family so that our kids could grow up with cousins, too."
|Andy and family, 2010|
A collective sigh rose up from the seats around me, in a sort of Oprah moment. I watched as heads tilted in unison, and at least one hand clasped to a bosom. Sensing that I had just made a few shortlists, I quickly passed the mic and sat down.
Soon the actual mingling began. A woman in business attire with dark curly hair rushed right over to me, her biological clock ticking on her sleeve. "Hey, I like what you said. You live in the Village? I live nearby in Murray Hill." She was direct and confident and had a nice smile, and she reminded me of someone – a lawyer I had met through my Turkish friends named Cynthia. Cynthia had sued a muffin shop over nuts in a muffin she hadn't even ordered, just for the fact that it was on sale without a little sign to say "contains nuts." Never mind that the shop was owned by our mutual friends’ cousins – she sued, won, and shut that muffin shop down. Not exactly the person you want to come to mind when shopping for moms. We chatted politely for a minute, but the red lights were flashing: WILL END IN COURT.
Next, a very joyful couple introduced themselves as Jenna and Moonseed. They were almost half my age, giggly and roly-poly, a feather earring here, a pierced this-and-that there. I had the idea that maybe they’d cut class at Bryn Mawr and hitched a ride into the city, with no plans for what’s next. "We love cousins!" said Jenna, as Moonseed wrapped her arms around her. They told me that they’d actually taken the train down from upstate. The psychedelic lights were flashing: WILL END IN A TOM ROBBINS COMMUNE.
It was quickly sinking in that this would be tougher than I had imagined – or more precisely, tougher than I hadn’t imagined. I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to search for co-parents. And the last time I’d chatted up a lesbian was at a “Xena: Warrior Princess” Night at Meow Mix. Would I even know what to look for?
I reminded myself that this was only Day One of my search. There would be another co-parenting meeting each month, so I joined the mailing list and left, knowing it’d be good to have some time to think before mingling again.
A few days later, I met my friend Patti for a Meat-n-Greet, something we like to do when her vegan girlfriend is busy. I told her about my plans and the Sperm and Egg Mixer, and her reaction was a mix of surprise, encouragement, and just the right amount of concern.
|Andy and Patti|
“That’s amazing. Have you told your family?”
“No, it’s a hard one to explain. I was going to wait until I met someone, or maybe even until the baby arrives. It might be easier with a visual aid.”
“So you’d share a baby with strangers? How would that work?”
“I’d have to get to know them first.”
“Would you have sex?”
“I’m pretty sure it would be artificial insemination.”
Patti took her time chewing a bite of currywurst and thinking. I knew I had confided in the right person.
“Just make sure you find the right couple. That’s a big one. Wow, it’s so weird you can just...make a baby.”
|Patti, telling it like it is.|
When the next month's co-parenting meeting rolled around, the vibe was completely different. This time there were far fewer women. None, in fact, as even the group leader had called in sick. The wanna-be dads who had shown up decided to make the best of it, and we sat in a circle to share the hopes and (mostly) woes of our quest for fatherhood.
Just when the prospects were looking as bleak as the March sky, the door squeaked open with some latecomers. And that’s when I first met Emilce and Katy. (And no, those are not code-names for “Cagney & Lacey”– I mean, Kris and Tracy.)
Stay tuned for chapter 3!
Stay tuned for chapter 3!
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