Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Swimming toward the target

A friend of mine called recently to say he was going in for a vasectomy. After giving life a lot of thought, he and his fiancé decided children aren’t in the cards.

His story reminded me of an entirely different time in my life. My wife and I were attempting to conceive our first born and we were experiencing difficulties.

So, like my friend, I decided to take control of the situation and consult the medical authorities.

That was the easy part of the decision. Making the appointment to see my doctor was an entirely different story.

“Why do you want to see the doctor,” the receptionist asked.

None of your damn business I wanted to say. But that’s just not an appropriate way to speak to someone if you need an appointment presto pronto.

“Oh, I just need to see the doctor,” I replied. Ordinarily these things don’t faze me. But in this case, since we were discussing things south of my belly button, I just couldn’t bring myself to be so open.

“Again, what are you coming in for,” she continued.

“I’m not telling you. And it won’t take long,” I said.

“The doctor won’t like this,” she said. As if I cared.

A few days later I found myself in my doctor’s examination room.

“So what’s up,” he said upon entering the room.

I explained the problem. And rather than suggest to my wife that she see a doctor, implying somehow that this situation was her fault – not mine, of course – I told the doctor we should start with me. So what do we do, I asked.

The great thing about this guy is that he’s able to break down complicated medical terms into language we can all understand.

“We need to find out if you’ve got enough swimmers,” he said. “And then we need to know if they can swim.”

That was an interesting way of putting it. And how do we do this, I inquired.

“Easy. We refer you to a clinic where you give a sample.”

That’s a breeze, I thought. Just go to some sterile medical clinic, by myself, and, uh, well, uh, you know, uh, uh-oh. What have I gotten myself into?


I’d only done that, you know, in private. So the mere thought of doing you know in a quasi-public place was enough for me to ask my doctor for some Viagra – JUST FOR THIS ONE TIME.

Don’t sweat it, the doctor said. There will be more than enough magazines and videos to get me through this exercise. How did he know, I wondered.

The next thing to do was to call the clinic. I forget its name but it was something like “The Clinic to Make Sure You’re Packing a Wallop.”

After taking down the necessary information from me, the receptionist at Packing a Wallop inquired when I’d like to stop by.

I inquired about the following Wednesday. That was just fine, she said. And then she issued an edict:

“No sex for three days before this appointment.”

“Okay,” I mumbled.

The Big Day arrived. And I was a little nervous, to say the least.

My wife was on a business trip on this particular day. And I was wondering if that wasn’t a mistake. Maybe she should have been there. That would have made this exercise easier.

I thought about calling a few women I knew to see if they’d join me on this event. But then I reconsidered. They’d probably turn me down anyway. And the clinic might have rules. Besides, I thought, that would be like Bill Clintoning this whole exercise.

Is it sex? Isn’t it sex? Those were more questions than I could handle. So forget that idea.

I put on stiff upper lip and made my way to the clinic – alone.

The first thing I noticed in the clinic was a picture gracing the lobby’s wall of a lone, very determined looking sperm. It must have been magnified 5,000 times, maybe more. I suspected it was to reinforce to all those entering Packing a Wallop what they were suppose to do during their visit. Drop off a sample!

The next thing I noticed was the receptionist. She was a hot looking Latina. Maybe her looks were part of the clinic’s plan. Look at her, they figure, and things will happen.

I checked in with her and she asked if I was ready.

“I guess.”

I was ushered into a room. I’m not sure what the room is called. It’s not exactly an examination room. Maybe it’s a play room.

I don’t know what they call that room, but it was packed with more pornography, movies included, than I’d ever seen in one place.

Now I’m not exactly a prude; for that matter, I’m not innocent either. I’ve bought my fair share of porn.

But this was something else. The shelves were staked with huge quantities of magazines and movies.

The doctor was right. There were more than enough magazines to pull me through this exercise.

I thought about asking the receptionist to stick around. If she could just stand there, naked, this would have been so much easier. And, hey, I wouldn’t have touched her. That would have defeated the exercise.

But then I thought about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and dismissed the idea.

She closed the door behind her and, suddenly, I was alone.

What the hell, I thought, let’s check out the movies. And that’s when I learned I just might be entirely out of the mainstream.

There’s nothing wrong with being gay, but lesbian porn just doesn’t do it for me. I’m straight and in today’s world that probably makes me weird.

Eventually I got comfortable with a magazine and things that needed to happen, well, happened. The sample was delivered and the most embarrassing exercise of my life was over.

I just hoped no one would notice how embarrassed I was as I walked out of the lobby. I don’t think anyone did.

A week later the doctor reported that everything was good to go. What a relief.

Six weeks later, my wife and I learned that our first born was on his way. Another relief.

Five years later, I can tell you that children provide more awkward moments than I would have ever realized. There are embarrassing moments involving the bathroom, crying, and things that they notice that they want to tell you about in their own way.

But none of those moments compare to the 30 minutes I spent at that clinic.

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