Tales of a Simple Man
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Excerpt: from Janice, p. 156
A month later, Janice came to my office again. This time I remembered her name.
"I made an advising appointment," she said.
"Yes," I responded, "I see that. Are you changing your major? Are you having trouble with your schedule?"
"No, nothing like that."
"Then what can I help you with?"
"Would it be all right if I closed your office door?"
"I'd prefer you didn't. I like to keep things open so anyone can see what's going on in here. It's a policy of mine, to avoid any appearance of impropriety. You can't be too careful these days."
Janice smiled sympathetically. "I understand," she said. "
But I only want to talk. It's personal and I don't want anyone else to overhear what I have to say. I'm sure when you hear me out you'll agree."
I was skeptical, and Janice picked up on my feelings. She laughed. "Is this our first fight?" she asked.
And just like that, Janice cornered me into breaking my own rule. "All right," I relented. "You can close the door, but please open the shade."
She complied, and then she sat in the chair facing my desk. "Do you know I have a daughter, Dr. Savidge?"
"No," I answered, "I didn't know that."
"I do. Her name is Ruby and she's five years old."
"That's nice," I said. "It's a pretty name. Five is a great age for kids."
"Yes, it is. Ruby is the love of my life. She's wonderful. I don't know what I'd do without her. Do you have children, professor?"
"Yes," I replied. "I have two daughters. They're into boys these days. It used to be horses--now its boys."
"Then I'm sure you'll be able to relate to my dilemma."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"I want another child. I need another child. Children fulfill me. They give my life purpose. My problem is that I don't have a husband or even a boyfriend. So I'm kind of in a jam."
"My daughters are adopted," I said. "Single mothers can adopt children these days. You don't have to be married."
"That may be true, and it might be appropriate for some people, but not for me."
"You don't approve of adoption?"
"No. I didn't say that. It's just that I want to experience the pregnancy and childbirth myself. That's important to me. I want to deliver my baby using a midwife. I don't believe in hospital deliveries."
"I see, but what does this have to do with me?"
"What I am getting at professor, is I'd like you to consider being the father of my next child."
"What?" I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Is this a joke?" I asked. "did one of my colleagues put you up to this--or maybe a student? Are you an investigative reporter for the school newspaper?"
"No, of course not--nothing like that. I'm entirely serious."
"If this isn't a joke, or some kind of a test," I stammered, "then this conversation is totally inappropriate. I can't believe you are serious."
"I am, Dr. Savidge. It's a proposition--plain and simple as that. You could look at it as a business arrangement, or it could be more personal. That would be entirely up to you."
"I'm married," I said. "You met my wife. I have two daughters."
"Yes, but you've seen me naked." She smiled mischievously, unlike her grim expression in the anatomy book.
"Apparently a lot of people have seen you naked--at leas everyone who has read that book."
"Yes, that's true. But I'm not concerned with every one; I'm only concerned with you."
"Why?" I mean, why me? What did I do to deserve this... opportunity?"
"When I was in your class, I doubt I made much of an impression on you; but you made a big impression on me--and I'm not that easily impressed. I enjoyed your class... a lot. You have a good sense of humor, and that's important to me. I don't like people who take themselves too seriously, which you don't. You're reasonably intelligent, as indicated by your doctorate degree. That says something. Our child would probably be intelligent, too. You're not too tall for me, or too short. I wouldn't describe you as an Adonis, but you're not bad looking. Overall I think we're a good fit. I think you're a good pick to father my next child. Together we could produce someone truly exceptional. I've considered others--some faculty and a couple of students--but you are my first choice."
"I'm flattered, Ms. Jones... Janice, but no, I can't be part of something like this. Can't you just go to a sperm bank?"
"I guess I could but I don't want to. I want to know who my child's father is. I want a more intimate experience. Besides, I doubt if there's a sperm bank anywhere near here. We are, after all, in the middle of the mitten, not exactly a metropolis."
"That doesn't change he fact that this is a bad idea. It's wrong on so many levels."
"it could be fun--a little hanky-panky after school. It might restore your youth."
'It would be disastrous."
"You don't know me, and I don't know you. We're complete strangers. People don't just get together to breed like... like farm animals."
"We could if we wanted to."
"Yes, but I don't want to. But even if I did, I have a wife and two daughters. It's not just about what you or I want; other people will be affected by this, too... like the baby, for example. And what about love? What about commitment? What about all those feelings people write about in poetry and literature?"
"It's nice if you have those things. They're lofty, but not necessary. I don't need love or commitment to make a baby. I only need sex--sperm to be more specific."
"I'm sorry, Janice. I can't help you."
Janice paused and appeared to give my words serious consideration. She stared at me, which made me uncomfortable. Then she smiled and said, "Okay--then can we be friends?"...