Castration Doesn’t Hurt
by Marina J. Neary
|Part 5: Caribbean Blue|
In late summer of 2001 something mind-boggling happened. Rinnie got pregnant. Her announcement shocked me on more than one level. After living in New England for a few years, I totally forgot that children could be conceived traditionally. I thought that they only came via test tubes or Mexican gardeners.
As it turns out, every now and then Nature will play a trick on you and allow for things to happen the old-fashioned way. What a concept! For the past two years I’ve been living with the belief that sooner or later Rinnie and I would have to go to a fertility clinic or an adoption agency, just like all of her coworkers. In fact, I had already started putting money aside for procedures and paperwork. But then — surprise, surprise — her egg decided to meet one of my sperms half-way. Our two zygotes liked each other and decided to fuse their DNA.
Rinnie’s breasts became like honeydew melons, and her nipples became like prunes. For two months she lived on grapefruit juice and seaweed salad. Anything with animal protein or gluten caused uncontrollable nausea. I lost count of how many puddles of vomit I had to clean up after her. I didn’t mind doing it, though. For the first time in her life she allowed me to take care of her, however reluctantly. When she was puking, she wasn’t barking orders. Now I understand why some men prefer to keep their women barefoot and pregnant.
Here comes the monkey wrench. A few months before the baby was conceived, we had bought a vacation package to Antigua, including all-you-can-drink alcohol. It was supposed to be our belated honeymoon. Naturally, Rinnie fumed over her inability to take advantage of the booze privileges, and she hated to see the money go to waste, so she made sure that I drank for two.
I really wanted some Caribbean rum, but Rinnie made me order cocktails instead, because they were more expensive and helped us meet the “deductible.” I never thought that sipping cocktails on the beach could be such torture. Rinnie has this talent for turning the most pleasurable activities into agony.
Four margaritas later, I felt a sudden hankering for a smoke. Now, I never was much of a smoker. Sure, I had toyed with weed in college. Who hasn’t? But I never developed an addiction to ordinary cigarettes. But as I was sitting on the beach, bloated and dizzy, a vendor happened to pass by carrying a tray with Cuban cigars, the kind you cannot get in the States. I had seven Caribbean dollars in my pocket, so I splurged on two of those tasty nicotine missiles — one for myself, and one for Evan, Rinnie’s stepfather, who would really appreciate the gift.
When I released the first puff of heavenly smoke into the tropical air, Rinnie gave me a disgusted look. “What kind of example are you setting for your child?”
“Why, dear, don’t you think it’s fetching?” I asked, imitating Clark Gable.
“I’ll show you fetching!” she snapped. “When we get back home, I’ll take you on a tour of a cancer hospice. You can meet the patients and see for yourself how damn sexy it is to have your lungs rot away.”
I must say, pregnancy killed her sense of humor. I could only hope that she would get back to her normal self after giving birth.
She snatched the cigar from my fingers and put it out in the sand. “Go back to drinking margaritas,” she growled, patting her belly.
Without saying another word to my wife, I got up and walked towards the ocean. The water was so warm that I could piss and not feel the difference. By then my four margaritas had worked their way through my kidneys and ended up in my bladder. I really didn’t mind drowning at that moment.
But you probably know that it’s not that easy to drown on a Caribbean beach, where you can walk out for miles, and the water is up to your waist, and there are dozens of lifeguards whose duty is to look out for blissful honeymooners like me.
Suddenly, I heard Rinnie’s voice. “Come back, Bailey!”
She was standing on the shore and waving her sarong, her belly exposed. I waved back, not sure why.
Later on I found out why Rinnie called for me. The baby kicked for the first time, so she wanted me to feel it too, so my guilt over the cigar incident would double.
“The baby is looking up to you,” she said, stroking my head, as I lay there with my cheek against her bump. “When you blow smoke, I inhale it, and the baby inhales it too. If you say a bad word, the baby hears it. From now on, whatever you’re doing affects your son or daughter. I’ve read in this book that parental influence begins before birth. You’ll have to seriously reconsider many aspects of your behavior.”
Copyright © 2011 by Marina J. Neary