He’d read somewhere, in one of those ridiculous pamphlets he picked up at that back-to-earth, commune outfit in the next county, no doubt, that walnuts enhance fertility. So now at work meetings I’m popping walnut halves he shoves in with my lunch. Tonight we made pasta for dinner smothered in a greasy walnut pesto he’d engineered with much fanfare in an extended play date with the blender, and he dropped a fistful of walnut dust on the perfectly nice sliced banana I was eating for dessert. The walnuts go in, the babies come out. He seems to think it’s that simple. Or almost that simple.
There’s the sex part. Which is about as exciting as the words “the sex part” make it sound when your husband claps his hands together like a twelve-year-old girl and says, “Let’s make ourselves a BayBeeeee!” What happened to Greek oil magnate picks up French college student and pays her to do all the naughty things his wife won’t allow? What happened to putting on worn-out clothes we’ve been meaning to throw away so we can rip them off each other? If he’d wanted to eat something smeared with flavored oil, there were much better ways to make that happen than dousing elbow macaroni with fertility-pesto.
Can you spark a baby when you have to picture yourself climbing an NFL linebacker—make that a couple of NFL linebackers, mmmmm, make that two NFL linebackers who are themselves a couple, hell yes!—just to get the tiniest bit interested in your pesto-making, banana-dusting husband? I mean does that shame the sperm into a defeated attitude? Do they fake a limp so they can ride the bench, safe and relaxed and looking forward to a hoagie and a couple of beers after the game? And what about the egg, how does an egg feel when she’s approached by a sperm wearing tighty-whities and the haze of daddy-fever, when in one hand he’s carrying a magazine article on how to encourage early infant linguistic development, and in the other a list of the best-for-value colleges in the nation?
Should you want to spark a baby with a man who has left behind entirely the funny, sexy guy you married, to become this fretful, forehead-creased accountant of passing days, the keeper of the calendar logging everything that happens between your legs, the man-splainer who intones the word “menses,” when instructing you about your own goddamn cycle, who has forgotten entirely about your breasts but could write an epic poem about your ovaries?
Can I? Should I? These are the questions I ask myself as I keep my legs hoisted over my head—the better to encourage the near-sighted, head-hanging sperm to stay on the right path, says the accountant.
Can I? As he sits hunched next to me, staring anxiously at my belly, willing it to rise, as he wonders whether there might be a little clutter in my fallopian tubes (I have never been a tidy person) and ponders the position of my uterus—have I ever considered the possibility that my uterus is tilted?
Should I? As he says, oh, here, and deposits a couple of walnuts on the flat belly, says he candied them this afternoon for “afters.” Good girl, I expect him to say, Who’s a good, good girl?
How do you consider a life-changing question while naked, sweaty, your legs dangling over your head, the unmistakable scent of unrequited linebacker-love in the air?
You don’t. You don’t. Not yet you don’t. For now, you stick with what you know, however you learned it, however you got to this leg-dangling place. You scoop up the candied walnuts on your belly and eat them like the good girl you are. And you say, no, I have not considered the possibility that my uterus is tilted. Maybe we should get that checked out.
Who’s a good girl? Who’s a good good girl, huh? Huh?
Claire Guyton is a Maine writer, editor, and writing coach. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Crazyhorse, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, Mid-American Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, and elsewhere. Claire has been a Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellow, and earned her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She blogs about writing short prose at dailyshorty.com.