Big giant head

In Other News

If ever there was any question that Zoe is my daughter, all doubt was put to rest last night.

One of my defining characteristics is that I hate to go to bed. Beth says I'm like a little kid about it and she's right. I will stay up 'til all hours of the night for no reason whatsoever. I try to force myself to bed early enough to get four hours of sleep if I have to get up for work or something, but otherwise I stay up until I just can't anymore. Zoe seems to have inherited that from me.

Putting her to bed each night is an exercise in bargaining, battle strategy, compromise and false imprisonment. Her bedtime is 8:00 pm, but that's really just when the starting gun goes off. Then it's two or more hours of chasing her back into her room, putting the gate up to keep her in, time-outs because she's out of bed and playing, scoldings because she's under the bed, numerous trips for water or crackers or bathroom visits or whatever else she comes up with. She's usually asleep by 10:30 or 11:00, though. Usually.

Once down, you can't count on her staying there. Four nights out of seven she'll wake up around 1:00 or 2:00 for more water or company or because there's a bug in her room. Nearly every night she wakes up after I've gone to bed and comes in to join us.

Last night, around 3:00, I was still up watching TV when Zoe appeared in the doorway. I let her climb up on the couch with me and we talked for a few minutes, and then she said she was hungry.

She didn't want crackers or water or fruit. No, she wanted a meal. So I made her one, and Zoe and I watched Discovery Channel at 3:00 in the morning while we ate tunafish on Wheat Thins.

Like father, like daughter.


Saturday -- July 31, 1999
You Like Me!!!

You really, really like me!!!

But you don't understand me.

Yours truly has been nominated for Diarist.Net's Best Comedic Entry award for my Father's Day entry. Woo hoo, go me! And thanks to whomever nominated me.

I'm flattered that y'all like my stuff enough to nominate it and that the committee liked it enough to put it up for the vote. I like the stamp of approval as much as anyone and I'll take all the atta-boys I can get.


I'm nominated for Best Comedic Entry, but the nominated entry was not comedy. At least it wasn't meant to be.

I wrote about the humiliation of having to jack off into a cup so the product could be squirted into my wife from a tube because I'm not man enough to knock her up like a man. I wrote it in a you-are-there style to try to make you feel it, to give you a taste of how embarrassing it is for me. I wasn't going for funny there, kids.

Beth and I have been trying to get pregnant again for about two years now, off and on, and in that time we've given up quite a bit of our dignity. It has put stress on our marriage and pain in our hearts. We've each paid a sometimes heavy price for this.

I've had to jack off into innumerable plastic cups, sometimes in a nice visual aid equipped jack-off room, sometimes in a dirty public mens room down the hall, always under a cloud of shame. I've had to hand that cup of semen to women who asked me probing questions about how quickly and recently I'd performed and how true my aim had been, and then I've had to write them large checks to get it back after they've performed their magic on it, analyzed it, and written up a report on it that can be reduced to the phrase "Waste of Time."

Then I've had to give the semen and the report to my wife's doctor's office staff, who then hand it to a nurse or doctor's assistant who then gives it to the doctor, women all, all of whom read the report and know that's my semen they're holding and know they're holding it because I shoot blanks. They all give me pitying glances, and the doctor includes with hers a healthy dose of spin control as she proclaims the sample "Not great but good enough, maybe."

Really, there's nothing quite like this type of experience to boost your sense of masculinity and self-worth. I feel all manly just writing about it.

Meanwhile, Beth is splayed out on the table in a paper gown with her legs in the air, which doesn't do much for her dignity either, and then the doc crams utensils into her vagina and squirts the semen in with a chipper "Think of babies!" which makes me want to throttle her every time.

Prior to this, Beth has been splayed out on that table several times as they do ultrasounds on her cervix and ovaries, and she's been using hormonal suppositories on a nightly basis, and she's had me sticking hypodermic needles loaded with fertility drugs into her ass two weeks out of four, and she's been on a 24/7 emotional roller coaster what with the hormones and the drugs and the hope and the disappointment as we keep trying this and keep failing.

And through it all Zoe just keeps getting older. She's part of the reason we're doing this, so she won't grow up a lonely only child whose only interaction with other kids is when she's at school, so she can have an ally in her battles against us, so she can know the joy and pain of having a brother or sister, so she can be a big sister, so she can have someone who's not an adult with whom to share her home life. And each day/week/month/year that passes makes her that much older than her sibling if we succeed, makes the gulf between them that much greater. If we succeed.

And of course we're doing it for us, too. We've each gone through abortions before, and those lost lives are coming back to haunt us. Beth was pregnant soon after Zoe was born, but miscarried, and that lost life is haunting us. We want another baby more than I can describe, and each time we fail is a crushing blow.

So when I wrote, on Father's Day, about my Father's Day trip to the jack-off room to try to become a father again, I was going more for poignant and personal than I was for laughs. I've read through it again looking for the comedy and I just don't see it. I see the terrible irony of doing that deed for that purpose on that day. I see a small hint of the totality of the humiliation I felt. I see a man writing about a terribly private and personal act that has been flensed of any shred of dignity or pleasure, an act performed to achieve a goal and necessitated by circumstances that aren't even remotely funny. I see painful truth. I don't see comedy.

But I wrote it, so of course I see it that way. That you didn't is my fault. I used phrases like "choke the chicken" and "spank the monkey" and "cup full o' love," so maybe they tweaked your prurient sensibilities and made you giggle. Only an amateur blames the reader when he as a writer has failed; if the work is misunderstood, the writer should look in the mirror to ask why or to assign blame. So I guess I've got me a date with a mirror.

I don't mean to sound like an ingrate. I really do appreciate being noticed and acclaimed, even if I wish it had been for something I meant to be funny. Sincerely: thank you to whomever nominated me and thanks to the judges for agreeing. I'm pleased that you like my stuff and flattered to be recognized. And I'm sorry if I screw up your process, but...

For those of you who will be voting, I'd like to ask a favor: Don't vote for me, not for that entry as comedy. Vote for Paul or Lynda instead. Thanks.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins