A bit of frustration bubbling over at Chez Speaker as, for the last six months, regular invasions have failed to yeild fruit. Poker? No.
Despite up-to-the-millisecond planning, strenuous attention to ovulatory detail and my relentless carpet-bombing of the dear and patient wife's fallopian tubes, we have failed to connect on Child #2. It's disappointing, but I take it some manner of stride, being the hopelessly optimistic sort and if there are motility issues, I'll get 'em sorted out. The Mrs., not so much, as these six months of failure SURELY indicate that she is barren at 34. So, when she called me today reporting a full flow of Results Negative, she was choking back tears.
According to the finest literature, you are, by definition, infertile if you have already conceived a child previously and then are unable to successfully procreate for a period of six months or longer the next time you try. I'm inclined to believe there's something to that--though I don't feel our issues are major--mainly because we pretty much scored on our first try with AJ.
But now it's unavoidable and sometime in the next few weeks I will be donating into a cup in a sterile clinic that better have a good stash of porn.
She's a little down in the dumps, though still manages to joke and refer to herself as an "Old Maid." So I thought I'd try to cheer her up with something, something I wrote nearly seven years ago.
Paris, France. Friday April 16, 1999
Here I am. Sweaty, tired, shaky. I have a beer--Carlsberg--and a smoke. I'm gonna smoke everywhere in this country. The bar is a mere 30 paces from our hotel, a fine potential spot to cap off the evenings, if you ask me. I was even greeted by a patron with a hearty "Bonjour."
At present, I look like Hell. Fourteen hours in the air and haven't been able to get in the hotel room for a shower yet. I have an hour to kill.
The pub is a simple place. Brown tiled floor circa 1970s American Tract Home. The red naugahyde chairs are comfortable enough, paired around formica tables. A wooden L-shaped bar surrounds the spartan work area. Regulars, or so they appear to me, are scattered about, drinking beer, wine and coffee, chatting aimlessly and keeping one eye on their ponies in the next race. A young cook stares at me intermittantly from the kitchen, while the kindly middle-aged owner serves me. Some glance my way, curious at the silly young man dressed in various shades of blue.
The beer is a pure elixer. I need it to calm me. I guess I will meet her soon. Two...two and a half hours. I am an unwieldy mix of excitement and terror. I see my face in a mirror and cringe. I reach into my head for topics to raise.
I arrived easily. Soon, I will explore further. As a place, I feel warmth in thsi pub. But as a setting for the most important meeting of my life, it will not do.
It is here, Cafe Voltaire in the Le Marais section of Paris, that we will meet shortly, far too soon for me to share my feelings of her. My clumsy attempt at romance has yielded an equally clumsy flower arrangement. Not content to accept pre-fab bouquets, I asked for cherry blossoms (and I guarantee you that was a conversation fraught with sign language and quizzical stares), which have meaning for her. What I ended up with is three rather homely cherry blossoms, entwined in enough cellophane to choke a moose.
I'm on my fourth beer of the young day, though it would be 11 p.m. in my sector of the world. I fear the crash which awaits me. But for now, I welcome the numbness. It's the only thing keeping me inside my skin.
This cafe is not exactly what I had pictured in my head. The Paris of my dreams consisted of a garden patio, wrought iron fencing--possibly white--and trelises of blooming flowers. Instead, I am on the inside of the glass facing a crowded boulevard. Cars and people scurry past, oblivious to the huge moment awaiting me. I have cleaned up well enough and my leather car coat doesn't peg me as a tourist.
I'm about to live a dream, almost separate from my actual life. It's invigorating and I'm far enough out on the limb that there's no going back. I'll be there for the next ten days regardless. I want suprise. I want new.
My flowers are drooping off the end of the wood table. Any moment now. My anxiety keeps sending my gaze to the beer tap. It's an ornate silver contraption, culminating in a skinny nozzle, a contrast to the wide-mouth taps of home. The beer meekly dribbles into a Y-shaped glass caressing the stem and settling leisurely. It's a nice metaphor. I am not impatient. I welcome the easy flow of what is to come.
Even so, my eyes dart around the place. To my empty glass, shards of foam hugging its sides. To the barkeep, who walks briskly by. To the tap and to the empty street corner where I expect her to arrive.
I never actually saw her arrive. She just APPEARED. Suddenly, she was. The light changed. I made my way from my chair somehow, legs devoid of feeling. We met on the sidewalk and embraced. My head swam. We sat and talked, though I could not possibly tell you what was said, a fact that didn't matter in the least. We touched. For the first time.
Soon, we were walking the city. Hand-in-hand, we paused to look in the shops. Chocolates, tapas, fresh fattened duck liver on toast, everything new. We spent the afternoon in a colorful restaurant where we drank way too much Sangria and laughed knowingly like old friends.
We stayed in that evening, my body stunned by the lack of sleep, jet-lag and the gorgeous woman beside me. She gave me a massage, we talked of our families and giggled over nothing and everything. Finally, I took her face in my hands, that beautiful, exotic face, and kissed. We explored each other like we would soon explore the city, uncertain at first, but with growing familiarity and intensity.
She lay beside me the next morning, a vision. She slept quietly, but with a questioning look peeking out from under her curly black hair. The answer is yes. I love her. I am sure of it.