There comes a time in the lives of most men when they decide to stop living like a stupid college student and build themselves a family. This urge can stem from one or both of two sources:
1. Internally, as a result of passing a developmental milestone — such as a thirtieth birthday.
2. Externally, as reaction to a life-changing event — such as a health crisis, or the constant carping of a spouse or girlfriend for whom the once-quiet ticking of her biological clock has amplified over time into a constant din of booming gong-blows portending the steady deterioration and imminent collapse of her ovaries.
For Schwimmer, it was a little bit of both. A decade of tomcatting around hadn’t yielded much – the women he dated seemed to get crazier as he got older. They always started off stable enough, and many managed to maintain the façade of emotional and mental equilibrium fairly well at first. But the mask always slipped sooner or later and the real self came out. In one six-month period he’d dated a control freak, a bankrupt shop-a-holic, a pathologically jealous rage junkie and finally a relentless Bob Vila fixer-upper who surreptitiously threw away his clothes while he was at work and then dumped him because he refused to get a new watch. After her exit he put himself through an eighteen-month dating hiatus that was wonderfully peaceful at first, but about halfway through he started feeling that old itch. He wasn’t meant to live alone forever and he missed women; their soft smells, their chatter, their zest to organize the myriad trivial details of daily life which he found so tedious but in which they seemed to revel. He reentered the dating pool with a mission: no more dating to get laid, he would find a mate.
And he did. They dated a year, lived together another year. In the third year they married and were quite happy until year five, when they realized that something was wrong: no babies. They didn’t start out trying to get pregnant; they just assumed it would happen. But years went by and it didn’t happen. Schwimmer was not particularly bothered, but his wife was. She wanted kids and she wanted them NOW.
It’s not that Schwimmer didn’t want kids – he didn’t mind the idea so much. On the rare occasion when he allowed himself to think about being a Dad he worried that he might not be able to take care of them properly, based on the dilapidated state of most all of his possessions (his car hadn’t had an oil change in a year and a half) and his stunning lack of success at owning pets (all of whom had either died or disappeared quickly after taking up residence with him). He could barely take care of himself, how was he to take care of another life?
Once, when he was eight he’d attempted to comb and part his own hair, but was unable to get the part straight. He fussed and fussed with the comb, in front of the bathroom mirror, but no matter what he did he couldn’t get it right. His mom eventually came in to see what was taking him so long, and took care of it for him with a few deft, casual strokes and then told him to dress for school. As he buttoned his shirt he looked in the mirror at that impossibly perfect demarcation in his scalp, which his mom had achieved with such ease, and was overwhelmed with anxiety and doubt. I can’t even part my own hair, he thought, how am I supposed to cook my own meals, keep an apartment, do a job when I grow up? Suddenly the adult world was as unassailable as Everest.
The uncertainty nagged at him all day; he watched the other adults around him function so well at mundane tasks that were totally beyond him and marveled; The Bus Driver, expertly navigating traffic; the Lunch Lady, whipping up food for hundreds. How could he ever live up to all that?
Later, in bed he reached an accord with his doubts. All those grown-ups had been eight once, too, he reasoned, and a lot of them probably hadn’t been able to part their hair either, at his age. This this must be part of the mystery of growing up: why, a few years ago he couldn’t even put on his own pants or pee in the toilet, but he could now! These skills would come.
Over the years, whenever he felt inadequate, he would hearken back to that day in front of the mirror with the comb and take comfort in the knowledge that he was right. Fatherhood would come as easy as parting his hair.
But it didn’t.
It didn’t come at all. Two years of regular sex yielded nothing but orgasms and soiled linen. His wife failed to spark – her womb resisted his best efforts. This was actually okay with Schwimmer, who was a bit of a fatalist and believed that children would come when they would come, but his wife was not of that same philosophical school. She wanted kids and she wanted them now. If something was wrong then it would have to be fixed.
But Schwimmer had a secret.
In sixth grade he’d gotten ill. The actual details of that illness were swathed in gauzy mental cotton, because a very high fever was involved. Schwimmer had forgotten most of the details, but some of the more humiliating memories remained quite clear.
At four o’clock in the morning his parents had awakened to the sound of furniture crashing around in the living room. His father pulled out a Billy club he kept under the mattress and tiptoed out into the darkened room to find dazed young Schwimmer building a tent out of blankets and chairs and muttering to himself about turtles. Young Schwimmer was burning up.
They rushed him to the emergency room, where they discovered that his left testicle had swollen to the size of a ripe Valencia orange. Schwimmer remembered quite clearly the parade of physicians, orderlies, random passers-by who marched in and out of his clothy cubicle to peer at his adolescent genitals. Even with a one-hundred-and-four degree fever, young Schwimmer was mortified. They admitted him to the ward and placed him on a very high-dose antibiotic IV drip. The fever spiked to 105 at dawn and young Schwimmer floated away into a fever-world wherein swollen cow udders hung ponderously over his head as he floated across a blasted dreamy heath.
The fever broke after two days. Young Schwimmer returned to reality and his testicle began to shrink. The doctors arrived and started asking odd, embarrassing questions; how much sex had he been having? Could he tell them with whom?
Sex? In sixth grade? Hell no!
The Doctors thought he had Gonorrhea. His symptoms, apparently, were typical for that particular STD. This made him a bit of a star in the ward – the nurses were particularly amused. They trotted in and out of his room with smug little smiles. But even after the lab results cleared him, the mortification continued. Over the next several days, so many people needed to inspect his genitals he wondered if it was even necessary to pull up his blankets to cover them. Perhaps they should be framed and hung on the wall for easier viewing. It was just horrible.
Eventually the diagnosis came in and it was not VD, which would have been impossible anyway. It was “Epididemitis”, described as an inflammation of a sperm-carrying tube running from his testicle to his urethra. The infection spread to his testicle, causing it to swell. His father had suffered from exactly the same infection back when he was in the Navy, so apparently the men in his family were prone to it. In fact, his dad used to joke that he’d produced two boys because he shot only from the right.
A week later, young Schwimmer left the hospital knowing much more about his reproductive anatomy than he felt he should have for his age. He also knew there was a very good chance that his right testicle was now serving a mainly ornamental role, and that he could be infertile. This didn’t bother him at all; in fact it was a source of secret comfort. Years later when no less than two of his buddies from his high school football team were forced to withdraw from college to make decent women out of their knocked-up girlfriends, Schwimmer reveled in his luck. There would be no awkward announcements, no recriminations, no emotional gales in response to insensitive questions like “How do you know it’s mine?” or “Well, uh, what do you want to do?” he would be spared all that.
But not any more: The Sperms had come home to roost.
Infertility may be hideously complex emotionally, but practically (at least at first) it’s really quite simple. Odds are somebody is to blame, and that somebody needs to be found. Since there are only two suspects, the chore is easy – no nationwide manhunt required. And because the Man has been equipped by nature with external reproductive organs, easily reached, dangling out in the open, shining in the sun, it only makes sense that he should be the first under the medical microscope. The wife made an appointment to get Schwimmer checked out by a Urologist.
Up until age forty, most men have never been to a Urologist because their plumbing doesn’t begin springing leaks until later in life. Schwimmer was an exception. After his bout of Epididemitis the Doctors wanted him to see a specialist to get everything checked out. At this point, twelve year old Schwimmer had almost made his peace with strange hands palpating his testes by the dozens (the hands, not the testes), so off he went.
Unfortunately, as bad as the whole testicle thing had been, there was something much worse in store for young Schwimmer at the Urologist. Something so bad he’d never dreamed it could even be done to him. Something so nightmarishly, humiliatingly, intimately violative that it made what he’d been through up till then seem as casual as a handshake. Something all men go through (at the cold hands of the medical establishment, but usually later in life), which they all hate except for a tiny minority who really don’t seem to mind so much and even seem to enjoy it.
They call it: The Finger.
Dr. Laney was everything one could expect from a doctor; mid fifties, gray hair, soft spoken, competent, experienced. He went through the whole foul experience of the illness with young Schwimmer, clucked with sympathy as Schwimmer described the various tests they’d put him through, including being shot up with radioactive isotopes and made to pee in front of an x-ray machine (which he could not do – he developed a terrible case of stage fright, frustrating the hell out of the technician). The dreaded palpation was performed gently and deftly. Young Schwimmer began to relax.
Then out came the rubber glove and the tub of petroleum jelly. “Okay, young man,” said the Urologist, “all we have to do now is check out the old Prostate and we’ll be done.”
Years later, in his late twenties, Older Schwimmer received his second prostate check, performed by his Internist as part of a routine physical. That check was quite simple and quick and it raised suspicions in him about the first one. The Internist had made him lie on his side with knees up to his chest. It was over in a jiff and not nearly as unpleasant as the first one had been. Young Schwimmer had received no such gentle treatment in Dr. Laney’s office there had been no laying on the side; Laney made him bend over the exam table and spread em wide. Laney painted up young Schwimmer’s posterior orifice with an extra dollop of lubricant, and then went into his rectum with a finger that felt as thick as the head of a croquet mallet. And it went on and on and on. It had been horrible, perverse, and Schwimmer wondered if the old doc hadn’t maybe enjoyed his work a bit too much that day.
He blocked most of it out, but his clearest memory of the event was the aftermath, squatting in the office bathroom digging gobs of thick petroleum jelly out of his anus. There was so much wedged in so many nooks and crannies he was unable to get it all out and walked out into the waiting room with a queasy, greasy gait.
These lovely memories all flooded to the surface as he sat in yet another Urology waiting room with his wife, awaiting his third meeting with The Finger.
The nurse led them into a room and after a bit the Urologist came in, looking nothing like Doctor Laney, to Schwimmer’s enormous relief. They talked about his underwear, his diet, his drinking habits. Then the doc got out his medical history and spotted something.
“I see you had a bout of Epididemitis when you were thirteen.” he said. “Any reoccurrences?”
Schwimmer flushed. His wife looked at him with alarm and then turned to the Doctor. “Epi-whatsis?” she asked.
“Epididemitis, it’s an inflammation in the scrotal sac. Think of it as a cold of the Testicles and sperm carrying tubes.” The Doctor said.
She scowled and punched Schwimmer in the arm. “You never told me about this!”
Schwimmer winced and rubbed his arm. “It was a long time ago and it wasn’t fun. I think I blocked out the experience because it was so nasty. Anyway it was over in a week and never came back.”
“Could this be the problem, Doctor?” she asked.
The Doctor shrugged. “Could be, especially if there was some scarring. But there’s no point in worrying about it now. In these cases we pretty much always do the same thing no matter what the past history is, then we look at other issues if it’s warranted.”
He opened a notepad and jotted something down. “I’m going to order a sperm sample. We’ll get that under a microscope and see what we got swimming around down there. If it’s normal then we don’t need to worry about scarring and whatnot.” He passed the slip to them. “Take this to the nurse and she’ll set you up. Good luck.”
Good luck indeed! No finger! No rubber glove! No palpations of any kind! No strange hands on his nether parts! Free!
Schwimmer nearly skipped into the reception area. A no nonsense middle aged woman intercepted them and steered them to a cubicle. “Okay, the Doctor has ordered a sperm sample, so here’s what we have to do…” she began.
Sperm sample? Schwimmer’s good mood popped like pin struck balloon. This did not sound like it was going to be fun.
How To Sample Sperm.
1. As in any test, preparation is crucial. Since this was going to be a formal count, it should be taken at a point where the inventory is at its highest, therefore a few days of abstinence is highly recommended.
2. Sperms are highly prone to hypothermia. They are accustomed to a warm and moist environment, and begin to die off en masse when temperatures drop. The nurse told Schwimmer he had a window of thirty minutes to get them to the Lab. She was not amused when Schwimmer suggested popping the receptacle in the microwave on low for a few minutes if he felt he was running late.
3. They may be stored in any clean, glass jar. The Nurse was not amused when Schwimmer suggested a mayonnaise jar. She recommended a baby food container. She was likewise unamused when Schwimmer asked what flavor he should choose.
4. A second party may be recruited for the collection event. The Nurse was not amused when Schwimmer asked about the efficacy of “spitting” the sample into the jar. Nor was his wife.
5. Dumb jokes should be avoided – these health care professionals will not laugh, probably because they hear the same ones over and over.
His wife lost no time making an appointment at the lab, located at a nearby hospital, for later in the week. They calculated the swiftest route and reasoned that even if the traffic lights were all red, he could still reasonably expect to deliver the goods with ten minutes to spare. Schwimmer arranged to take Thursday off from work so could concentrate all his efforts on a good showing for “S-Day”. The next six days of abstinence was no real hardship – from the very moment this project had begun his sex drive had shriveled like a slug in a salt lick. Sex for reproduction aroused the hell out of his wife, but the barnyard quality of it turned Schwimmer off completely. By Tuesday she began to fret over his diminished capability, but he assured her that he would be able to complete the task. From age thirteen on, Schwimmer had pumped out enough seminal fluid to fill a small wading pool and he was confident that on “S-Day” he would manage to muddle through somehow.
S-Day arrived with dark, lowering, late-winter clouds and a light rain. Snow banks steamed in the drizzle, exhaling a dank, ground-hugging mist. His wife left for work at eight with the drop-off scheduled for her lunch hour. She would pick him up at twelve-thirty. Schwimmer ate a big breakfast and tried to think sexy thoughts.
He began his preparations at eleven-thirty; set up a TV table beside his easy chair, upon which he placed the baby food jar (strained peas – his wife had originally chosen mashed carrots but Schwimmer vetoed it because of the unfortunate visual image it spawned), the most recent Victoria’s Secret catalogue and a bottle of hand lotion. At noon he sat and began leafing through the pages, trying to decide between nighties or undies as his primary source of inspiration. He had just settled on nighties when the phone rang.
“Have you – um – started yet?” His wife asked.
“Well, no. But it’s going to be tough if you keep calling. It kinda breaks the concentration, you know.”
His wife gave an embarrassed giggle. “Oh, sorry. I wasn’t thinking. You’re going to start, right now, though, right? With the catalogue?”
“Yeah, I just chose nighties.”
“Really? What color?”
“Color? What difference does that make? It’s not like I’m shopping for one.”
“Yeah, I know that, but if you find one that works best for – you know – tell me which one it is. I’ll buy it.”
“I hope it’s red.”
“Because I look good in that color, dummy!”
“Look, I don’t know what color it’s going to be. I haven’t started yet!”
“Well when you do, make sure she’s a blond, like me.”
“You know – the girl in the red nightie.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake. I don’t who it’s going to be! It may even be more than one.”
There was a pause as his wife digested the comment. “Okay, I understand. But try to make them all blondes.”
Schwimmer gave up. “Okay, blondes. Love you.”
Four brunettes and one redhead later, Schwimmer was ready to pop. It had not been easy, he had never responded well to pressure. But the images in the magazine and six days of abstinence eventually put the lead back into his pencil and after a time and he felt release imminent. He reached for the baby food jar and went immediately flaccid.
“Damn!” he muttered. The spell had been broken.
He went back to work and quickly reachieved lift off status. Another grab for the jar.
This wasn’t working. A new approach was going to have to be employed. He placed the jar in his lap and continued on. This was a risky maneuver because he was going to have to just aim as best he could and hope for at least a partial bull’s-eye. The target was fairly small. But Schwimmer was no amateur at this activity and felt fairly comfortable he would manage it.
Blonde in Red Catsuit Blonde in Red Catsuit Blonde in Red Catsuit Blonde in Red Catsuit…
Redhead in White BabyDoll Redhead in White BabyDoll Redhead in White BabyDoll
Redhead in White BabyDoll Redhead in White BabyDoll…
Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy Brunette in Black Teddy BRUNETTE IN BLACK TEDDY..
BRUNETTE IN BLACK TEDDY! BRUNETTE IN BLACK TED……………………………………!
He hit the jar dead center.
But now the clock was ticking…
Schwimmer clapped the cap onto the jar; text messaged his wife and went off to clean up. She worked at an office only a few minutes away, and since she habitually drove like a meth addict fleeing from the Feds he knew she would arrive shortly. He carried the jar into the hallway and set it on the table by the door. Shrugging on his jacket, he went to slip it into a pocket, and then experienced a moment of doubt. Did he really want to step out into society with a pocket full of sperm? Perhaps it would be better off in a bag.
He fetched a plastic grocery bag from the kitchen and plunked the jar in. The bag was quite large compared to the jar; when he picked it up the jar sagged down to the bottom and wobbled, looking very unnatural and out of place. Still, it was better than nothing. He wrapped the rest of the plastic up around the jar and shoved it into a pocket as he stepped out onto the porch. A moment later his wife pulled up and they were off. The time was now S-minus 20 and counting.
“Do you have it?” She asked.
Schwimmer laughed. “No they said it was such a nice day they were going to swim over to the lab on their own. Of course I have it – it’s in my pocket.” He pulled it out and showed it to her. “Just as ordered – one ‘Bag O Sperm’.”
She grimaced. “Put it back, I don’t want to see it. Ew.”
They caught the tail end of lunchtime traffic on the way into town, and the lights didn’t cooperate, but ten minutes later they pulled into the hospital parking lot. Schwimmer handed her the bag. “There ya go. I’m gonna have a smoke.”
She recoiled. “I’m not taking that in! This is your project.”
“You’re the one who wanted to do infertility.”
“Ok, so I’ll carry in the sperm and when it’s my turn you can donate the eggs.”
Schwimmer stuffed the Bag O Sperm back into his pocket. “Ok, you’ve got a point.”
He got out of the car and walked across the lot as casually as any man carrying a jar of sperm in his pocket possibly could. He felt like one of those old-fashioned sinister cartoon anarchists; slinking about with a bomb secreted under his black cloak. People strolled past unaware they were a few feet and two layers of fabric away from the fruit of his loins. The shame grew as he stepped into the lobby.
He looked around in confusion. Despite all their careful planning, he realized there was one step they’d neglected: they’d never found out exactly where the lab was. He had always assumed that there would be sign or something to direct him: “This Way To The Lab” or “Sperm Sample Drop Off”. But there was only furniture, people, and the information desk.
He was going to have to ask. He scanned the lobby.
DAMN! The reception desk was a veritable henhouse, chicks behind and in front, all chattering away. Even all the people in the lobby were women.
“Why do they always have to be chicks?” He muttered.
He sauntered up to the desk and waited. Time was getting short, what was left – eight minutes, nine? A middle aged couple in front of him was getting directions to somebody or something somewhere in the hospital. They seemed incapable of speaking English as the reception nurse patiently told and retold them where to go. They kept asking her medical questions, as if she was the doctor. Schwimmer stood and fretted. Sperms were dying, dammit!
They finally left. He stepped up to the desk, removed the bag, set it on the counter and said, as matter-of-factly as anybody could under the circumstances, “Hello, my name is Schwimmer and I have to bring this sperm sample to the lab. Could you tell me where to go please?”
The receptionist, a pretty brunette in her thirties, shot a startled glance at the bag. Her face then convulsed through six or seven emotions, and then snapped into “oh-you-poor-man” sensitivity.
“Ah, all right you’ll need Mrs. Duffy. I’ll get her for you.” she purred.
She scurried into a small office next door. Mrs. Duffy, fiftyish, dressed very professionally, trotted out with the exact same ultra-sensitive expression on her face. “Hello,” she said warmly, “we have some paperwork to do and then we can get you to the lab. Follow me please.”
Schwimmer took his Bag O Sperm and followed her into the cubicle, certain the receptionist was watching him, thinking “There goes The Dud”. He set his bag on the desk, next to a picture of a very unhappy cocker spaniel sitting in a washtub full of suds. Mrs. Duffy opened her mouth as if to complain but shut it without a word. Schwimmer, head buzzing like a beehive, didn’t notice at first, but by the time he realized his faux pas it was too late. He flushed with shame.
Then he had an epiphany, right there in the chair. Right there in front of the pissed off woman glaring sensitively at his sperm on her desk.
This was all just horrible, like his adolescent bout with Epididemitis, and it was getting worse by the moment. But he was no longer an adolescent, he was a grown man. He’d been through worse over the years and was now armed with a fairly thick layer of emotional callus. He’d be damned if these people were going to make him feel like an idiot. None of this was his fault, there is no etiquette book on how to handle sperm; where to put it and what to say about it. And anyway, the only reason he was forced to go through this nightmare was because he’d married a woman. Infertility was a chick thing – men never made each other go through sperm samples. It was time to toughen up, time to get off the defensive. It was time to fight back the only way he knew how.
Let the stupid jokes begin!
She began asking questions and filling out forms. He gave her the basic information. It was very normal, very routine, except it really wasn’t. It wasn’t, because, despite the fact that they were going through a familiar administrative dance, one they both had performed multitudes of times, this dance was different. They were doing this routine around a small jar of sperm sitting on her desk, and they both knew it.
She focused her eyes determinedly on the computer screen. Schwimmer stared off into space, his gaze fixed at a neutral point on the wall. The sperm sat serenely next to her framed photo, neither dared look at it. A passerby who glanced into the room would see nothing out of the ordinary, save a certain stiffness of posture on her part and a noticeable dispirited slump in Schwimmer’s. Outwardly all was calm, but inside, emotions churned and bubbled.
At any point Schwimmer could have relented, removed the jar from her desk and put it back in his pocket. But he chose not to. Even shielded behind an extra layer of cloth it would still be there, still between them. And to hide it would be to tacitly acknowledge that there was something furtive or shameful about this procedure. Undoubtedly many patients had sat in this chair, dripping blood or wracked with agony. None of them had any reason to be ashamed – most were probably too shocked by the failure of their bodies to even give a hoot what she thought. And this freed her in a sense from caring in return. But not this time. Schwimmer would not let her off the hook – it had not been his idea to fill a jar with his seed and bring it into the hospital, he had been made to do it by women, so women were going to have to deal with it.
Her key tapping assumed an air of finality. She made a few crisp strokes and sat back. Her eyes reluctantly met his, then glanced down at the bag. “All right, Mr. Schwimmer. One last question.” Her voice faltered, the professional quality changed, became hesitant. “Um.”
“The…” She searched for a word. Schwimmer repressed his impulse to jump in and supply her with one. He let her twist. “The…sample.”
She flushed scarlet. “Ah. How long?”
She gulped a few times. “How…long has it been since you…”
“Since I what?”
“…since you, uh…donated it?”
“Oh.” Schwimmer ran through a few mental calculations, glanced at the clock on her wall. He was at about the limit. How to phrase that? The air in the room tensed, became pregnant and ominous; like a still, hot summer afternoon the moment before the first thundercrack peals out of a lowering sky.
He smiled. “We’re running out of time, actually. It was FRESH SQUEEZED twenty five minutes ago!”
He laughed, pleased at his witticism, but she didn’t. Her face froze. His smile faltered. He’d thought to defuse the tension with a joke, but instead he realized he’d stripped away her final layer of defense: professional detachment. She thought he had mocked her and in that horrid moment he realized that he had.
“The lab is to the left after the registration desk.” She handed him a slip. “Take this with you and give it to the technician. Good luck.”
He grabbed the slip and his sperm and got the hell out of there. He exited her door trailing a cloud of emotional brimstone and fled down the hall to the lab. Almost done. Almost there. he thought. Please, God, just get me the hell through this . He took the left by the reception desk and saw the “Lab” sign above a door at the end of the hall. S-Minus twenty seven minutes and counting. He forged towards it like marathoner three paces from the finish line. A couple of windows went by, the doorknob met his hand. He looked into the room.
Women and Children! The goddamn room was stuffed full of WOMEN and LITTLE KIDS!
“Oh, CHRIST…” he moaned.
He stepped through the door and stood there in all his rough, stubbled maleness. Everyone looked up. Everyone registered his presence in that certain way only women and children can, at a visceral level.
A man. A really big man. A man has come among us.
They smiled. Schwimmer clutched his bag. They looked at it.
“Um” he said.
A pretty technician in the pajama-like top and pants that hospital staff had taken to wearing sometime in the previous decade walked over to him. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and shone silky under the fluorescent lights. Her face was clean and bright. She had little ears pierced twice in each lobe and adorned with tiny silver stars. “Hello, can I help you?” she said in a pleasant, mezzo voice.
The three children on the floor, none older than six, paused from their blocks and looked up at him. Their mother, chatting with another technician, also quieted and waited. The question hung in the air like a piñata awaiting the first swipe of the bat. If the room had been full of men, they would have glanced at him and then ignored him, allowing him to complete his business in a little cocoon of faux privacy. Of course they would have listened in, but they would have given him the dignity of pretense. But not these women. They wanted to know what he was here for and they waited to be told.
Schwimmer forged ahead. He held up the bag.
“I come bearing sperm.” he said.
Eight days later the call came. His wife was a wreck by then – the wait had been very hard. After four days she’d tried calling the lab but no matter how much she bullied the techs they refused to tell her anything but “Your doctor will call when the results are in, ma’am.” Schwimmer had spent the time trying to forget the whole mess and his resolute lack of curiosity infuriated her. “You don’t even give a shit, do you?” she snapped.
“When it comes, it comes.” he said. “Worrying about it won’t change anything.”
The call came at work, just after lunch.
“You’re normal” his wife said. “Completely normal. That’s what the doctor just told me.”
I’m normal. he thought. This is probably the first time anybody has ever said that to me.
His wife barked a tiny sob. “They want to check me next. It’s probably me.”
Oh. Not good. Schwimmer had been so sure of his infertility for most of his adult life that he had been able to make peace with it long ago. He had even been a little proud of it. He was prepared to take all the blame. It would have been so much simpler.
“I’m sorry my love.” He said. “We’ll get through this somehow.”
He commiserated with her for a few minutes then hung up.