After the waiter brought Lacey her bowl of pumpkin soup, she took a few spoonfuls. Then, after declaring she was full, she shoved the bowl towards me and said it was all mine. Since I didn’t have a spoon of my own, I grabbed hers and had just started to lick it clean, when she said, “I wouldn’t do that, if I were you. Not unless you want to get my lergies.”
Up to this point, my conversations with Lacey, a mum at my daughter’s preschool, had been limited to banalities about our respective kids, but I was damned if I was going to be polite after she’d made such an ominous statement. No, I was determined to find out what disease she was so keen not to pass on. Not because I was likely to catch it (I am never sick), but simply because I am nosy as hell.
“Oh, why’s that?” I ventured, still licking away. “Do you have herpes?”
“Well no, it’s nothing that bad, but I mustn’t let myself forget to go to my doctor’s appointment this afternoon.”
I went rigid with excitement. It was obvious that Lacey had some beans to spill and that it was just a case of making a small cut in the bag of beans before they’d all come tumbling out. I made the first little cut with,“Why, are you pregnant?”
“Ha, ha, no, that would be a bit of impossibility. I hardly have sex. Oh! My poor husband!”
“Yes, I simply don’t find him attractive.” Her big brown eyes grew wide. “But don’t get me wrong, I love him to death.”
“But there’s no sexual spark?” I said, shoveling in the delicious orange soup.
“No. But it’s okay, because I was such a slut before I got married that I really don’t need to be having any sex now.”
“Right. You don’t care that you’re never going to have good sex ever again?”
“No, because in any case, I’m frigid.”
“Frigid how? You find it difficult to come?”
“Ha ha! No, I mean I never come with a man. Never, ever.”
“You mean not even with oral?” I squawked loudly. The people at the next table turned around and gave me the evil eye.
“No, never. I never had an orgasm from a man touching me. Even when I do it myself, I sometimes can’t manage it and get carpal tunnel syndrome.” I choked on my soup. “I think maybe it has something to do with all the horse riding I did as a kid, I think I might have damaged some nerves or something.”
“Oh. By the way, why shouldn’t I lick your spoon?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve got pinworms. That’s what I’m seeing the doctor about.”
If you think I lost my appetite after finding out that I’d licked her worm infested spoon, then you don’t know me very well. I finished the soup and, despite myself, couldn’t help feeling rather smug that I had a good sex life and that Lacey did not, even though she didn’t seem to care.
That first lunch date happened a few weeks ago, and I’ve seen her a few times since. Then out of the blue, she tells me yesterday, that she’s just found out from a movie producer friend of hers that they’re going to put up $3 million to make an indie movie of a script that Lacey wrote.
At first I felt a bit jealous because, well, you’re meant to feel jealous about that sort of thing, aren’t you? You know, so she’s frigid, her sex life sucks and she’s got pinworms, but some script she rustled up in her spare time is now going to be made into a movie. Maybe if it were someone less vulnerable, I’d be thinking: BITCH. But I’m not, because she also has a bunch of other problems too, such as the fact that she’s losing her memory and sometimes can’t recognize people’s faces, although the medics can’t find anything wrong with her. And also, that she seems to suffer from an illness that I can only describe as Sexual Tourettes, in that, the other night when I was at a club with her, she met this very cute twenty-five year old, and within minutes had told him, “If I were ten years younger, I would so have fucked you. You have such a nice tight arse.” This, after she’d had only one drink! Then she was surprised to find him all over her like a cheap suit for the next hour, until the penny finally dropped that although Lacey had said something that sometimes transmutes into a green light after the lady has imbued a few more beverages, in this case the lady was simply a Sexual Tourette’s sufferer, and not someone he would be penetrating anytime soon.
So after Lacey tells me about her movie deal, my old brain starts whirring. Like, now I have her as a contact, as a friend of a friend who makes movies, shouldn’t I start scribbling out a script? Well, I don’t know yet. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. Maybe, right now, I’m just happy with my lot. Just glad my arse is free of pinworms and that I don’t have Sexual Tourette’s.
On Saturday, our friend Daisy called us, informing us that her dad was having a huge party out at his cabin in Virginia, and did we want to drop our two kids off for the night? We didn’t have to ponder this offer for long. A back pack full of kids’ pajamas was flung into the car and my husband screeched out of the drive. It was only once we were half way to Virginia that we realized we’d actually left the kids on the front porch*. After much swearing, we drove back to pick them up, and were soon once again peeling up the freeway, a mere dozen miles over the speed limit. I was very excited. While the kids were in Virginia, John and I were going to have something we hadn’t had in many, many years. No, of course I’m not talking about mind blowing sex. I’m talking about a lie-in.
I wondered why Daisy had offered to have the kids overnight. Maybe she was still trying to woo me as a potential surrogate to have her kid. I thought I’d told her I definitely wasn’t going to do that, but maybe I hadn’t. And it had been a bit odd when, the other day, Darren (her husband), had given me an iPod out of the blue, saying, “Here, have this, we have two, we don’t need this one.”
Maybe the reason I hadn’t given them a definitive ‘no’ was simply that I appreciated the attention, the feeling that I was a young virgin being courted to be someone’s bride, in a manner of speaking. Or rather that my womb was being courted to be a vessel for his sperm. In any case, we were certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
When we got to the cabin, the party was in full swing, and I clicked with a Russian girl called Tatyana, who was a sex researcher. I said, “What are you researching?”
She said: “Sperm.”
“Can you elaborate?”
“What particular chemicals cause the sperm to find the egg.”
“Isn’t that answer rather simple?” chipped in John. “Isn’t it usually vodka or tequila that facilitates the miracle of conception?”
“Ha ha, very funny,” said Tatyana. She also went on to tell us some research she’d done on how many sexual partners people had had. Unsurprisingly, she had discovered that men multiply the amount of people they’ve slept with by three, while women divide by three. I was curious as to how there could be any way of proving how many anyone had really slept with. If you are really interested in how these things are calculated, go here.
At a certain point I realized that maybe my drinking days were over, because I was pretty drunk and had already put my foot in my mouth more often than is common, even for me.
I was simply having a laugh when I confessed to everyone at the party that Daisy had once had a Russian boyfriend called Dimitri who she had ultimately not married because he was very hairy and she is very hairy and she didn’t want the babies coming out like little apes (true).
Evidently it didn't tickle Daisy's funny bone, judging by the fact that she was squirming in her seat, hissing, “Shut up! Don’t talk about my sex life,” in my ear.
I laughed at that, because that detail wasn’t even about her sex life! But I got the message and instead, turned on Darren.
“So according to Tatyana’s research, you say you’ve slept with fifteen people. So you’ve actually slept with five.”
It was probably also a big secret that he’d told Daisy that he’d slept with fifteen people, since he looked a little disconcerted that I had this information.
Then Tatyana and I laughed about how inept English men are at seduction. I said, “You know how it goes. You’ve just met someone you quite fancy at a party, and you’re getting to know each other, just casually sitting side by side on the sofa, when suddenly he just lunges at you.”
“Ha ha!” said Tatyana. “Yes! I know what you mean. Suddenly their mouth is all hanging open and they are trying to slobber all over you. Not very attractive.”
“Just awful. They don’t give you any warning. All of a sudden their mouth is clamped onto yours and you’re drowning in saliva.”
Tatyana cracked up.
"Admittedly, I have not dabbled in the waters of many foreign men," I said. "But I would hazard a guess that The Lunge is definitely a move practiced mainly by the British male."
Darren was looking flustered. Oh shit, I remembered that Darren (a Brit) had lunged at Daisy at the end of their first date.
After six or seven more huge faux pas, John dragged me away, caveman style, by the hair and got me in the car and drove me home where we had some fairly unsuccessful drunken sex. Then on Sunday morning we both managed to have a blissful lie in.
By the way, do you think it's true that men round up and women round down about the number of people they’ve slept with? I think that anyone who is smart does not answer that question, because the numbers either make you look like a slut (if too high) or a loser (too low). Tatyana said the easiest way to get round this problem was to assess each potential shag individually, and then modify your numbers to fit with what you think they want to hear. Too complicated for me. I always say, when asked, “I can’t remember.” Which sounds bad, like there were dozens. But the reason I say it is because I really can’t remember. I mean who keeps a chart on their wall with a list of names on it? Okay maybe you do, but I definitely don’t.
“We want to give you $10,000 to write the best blog in the world,” Daisy said, leaning forward from the back seat of the car and patting my shoulder. “We’ve got a red hot topic for a blog. We want you to have our baby and write about it.”
Ah, that Daisy's a clever one, appealing to my vanity like that. It was an exciting concept to contemplate. But wait, they know I’m easy to wind up. This was a wind up. Right? RIGHT? I started to laugh hysterically. But since Daisy (40) and her husband, Darren (43) were not laughing, I decided to stop.
“Let me get this straight,” I said, “You want my genetic material?”
Despite having a seven year old, Lola, they’ve been trying to get pregnant for several years, doing IVF etc, with no success, and maybe desperate situations call for desperate measures.
“We want your eggs and your womb," Daisy replied. "You know my eggs are duds, but Darren’s sperm isn’t too shabby. We can use that.”
God, it was flattering, that they wanted my genes, warts and all. I didn’t want to ask if they’d put the proposition to all their friends and after being turned down had decided to try me, a person who will do anything, (within reason), for money. Sure, I figured, I could go to jail for being a surrogate for cash, (I believe any payment beyond the cost of medical expenses is illegal), but let’s face it, it was money for nothing. What were a few more stretch marks in the grand scale of things? And Daisy was right, just think of the blog I could write: Confessions of a Surrogate. It would be the most popular blog ever! And pretty soon there’d be a book deal, a Hollywood movie and Julia Roberts banging on my door, clamoring to play me.
Daisy, who is pint sized, with olive skin, black hair and black eyes, said she was upset that the surrogate baby would not look like her, but that she was always telling Darren how much I am ‘the female version’ of him, because we share the same ‘nutty’ British sense of humor and look enough alike (tall, pinkish skin, light brown eyes, grumpy expression), for the kid to have a good chance of resembling him.
Plus, she figured, I was sick of looking after my kids and wouldn’t, once the child was born, get obsessed with it and refuse to hand it over. I thought, yes, I am fed up with my kids sometimes, but if there is one thing I love, it’s babies, and their adorable dimpled knees and cheeks and the way they smell etc. etc. I wondered, frankly, whether I would be able to hand the kid over.
“How were you thinking of fertilizing my eggs?” I said. “Because if I can have sex with someone as hot as Darren, I don’t mind doing the whole thing for free!”
Darren perked up.
“No hanky panky,” said Daisy, as Darren’s face fell. “You’d just go to the fertility doctor for three cycles and they’d shoot Darren’s sperm up inside you.”
That made me feel a bit creepy. I figured there was probably a reason why surrogates are not meant to know the family they’re having the baby for. It was all beginning to feel a bit …. incestuous.
“How come you two have $10,000 going spare anyway? I thought you were stony broke,” I said, referring to the fact that Darren has just started a five year dentistry degree (don’t ask), while Daisy pulls in a few cents as a part time teacher.
“I got an insurance settlement after I had that car crash last year, which messed up my back. After legal fees, we'll be left with about $10,000.”
“So let me get this straight. Darren won’t have a job when this baby’s born, so obviously Daisy, you’ll have to carry on working and I’ll probably have to be its nanny, not to mention breastfeed it.”
Darren looked aghast.
“Hey, I’m only trying to give your child the best start in life,” I said, giggling.
The whole thing was feeling weirder and weirder. My daughter Scarlett and their daughter Lola are best friends. If I had their kid, Lola would be Scarlett’s half sister. Also I would be related to Daisy and Darren for the rest of my life. It was an odd thing to envisage.
“I’ll give it some thought,” I told them. To be honest, I still at this point thought they’d suddenly say, “We were only messing with you. It was all a joke!” But they went on and on about every detail. They’d obviously talked about it for hours, so I thought I’d hear them out.
And yes, there is a lot to think about, like what I’d spend the $10,000 on and what kind of images I’d put on my Surrogate blog. A picture of Darren with a black rectangle across his eyes. Me in various stages of pregnancy. My imagination was up and running.
Ah, how they had got to the very core of me, penetrating my defenses and turning me to mush. What a wonderful thing to do for a friend, I found myself thinking, to have the baby she couldn't have. And so what if I was put in jail for having a surrogate kid….it would make for great blogging fodder.
But to be serious for a second, I do feel sorry for them, I really do, but all things considered, I don’t think I’ll be doing it, even for $30,000 and a set of Louis Vuitton luggage. I don’t think I’d even do it if they threw in a tummy tuck and a breast lift …. because I know I’d want that baby. Maybe not initially, maybe when it was a year old, maybe, who knows when, but I know I’d want it at some point. I’m too fucking emotional to be able to fully detach from a kid that's been in my womb for nine months.
And you know what the worst part of this is, don't you? Even worse than the fact that I'm never going to have the most infamous blog in history? The fact that I will never see Julia Roberts' face up on the silver screen, enacting my life story.
Hi, you caught me sitting around daydreaming about my latest crush, Gorilla Bananas, (an ape, blogger and brilliant anthropologist), who has given me some truly unique insights into the way animals really think. Sometimes his blog makes for shocking reading, like for example, did you know that you should never show your pussy to your pussy? GB tells us here that it’s a little know fact that: “A large percentage of cat road deaths are probably suicides provoked by a pussy-to-pussy encounter. Trust me, girls, however much your cat loves you, it will never get a kick out of seeing you in the buff.”
All right, I'll admit it: I have a thing about him, love his big leathery hands, and would jump at the chance to jump him. And okay, some of you might say, "But he's a gorilla!" To which I say, so what? Love can conquer all. If anything, it's GB who's made it perfectly clear that he wouldn't make the beast with two backs with anyone but a female gorilla. He's so straight laced that he doesn't even dabble in chimp sex. He once told me that “Lady chimps are a gorilla fetish on a par with female dwarves with bucked teeth. Lady Chimpanzee's Lover is a classic tale of forbidden simian love.”
And while I was thinking about animalistic sex and all things animal, this question popped into my brain: Are there any stupid animals in the animal kingdom?
Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m going to hazard a guess that there aren’t any, because idiots would not survive in the wild. And would a tribe of gorillas, for example, carry one gorilla who was simple in the head, purely because he was a bit of a laugh and could do a brilliant impression of Humphrey Bogart, but in every other way was retarded and couldn’t so much as shell a monkey nut let alone mount another gorilla? I think not. Before long he’d be a Gorilla in the Mist, or a Gorilla left to fend for himself and die.
Now, yes, of course, there are many stupid domestic animals, like my friend Daisy’s beagle Spot, who eats cat poo out of the cat litter amongst many other aspects of regressive behavior. But those animals are cosseted and petted and can be as dumb as they like, because they always know where the next can of Whiskas is coming from.
And my next question is, that if there are no stupid creatures in the wild, why are there so many in the human kingdom?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that at least seventy per cent of the human population is stupid (stupid is defined as: the intelligence level of George W. Bush or below). And okay, in the past, maybe the function of slowpokes was simply to be an expendable body in a war, to build castles, forts and the like, and to club their enemies about the head. But what is the function of stupid people today?
I’ve really been scratching my head on this one. Now, I can sort of see the function of dumb females, especially if they are nice looking. Female bimbos will always be needed to date footballers, middle aged men with ponytails and rich men in general.
In a study I just read, (Source: Ms. magazine, December 1983) the researchers showed that mothers hold, kiss, and cuddle attractive babies more than less attractive babies, and, more importantly, tend to limit their attractive baby’s development in other areas by neglecting, for example, to offer such stimuli as challenging toys.
That study may go some way in explaining why so many good looking people are also dumb. It doesn’t however, explain Dubya.
So, what do you reckon is the function of stupid people in society?
To make the more intelligent people feel better about themselves? To keep the male and female modeling industries afloat?
Or, to put it plainly: What is the evolutionary significance of a Paris Hilton or a K-Fed?
And if society is dumbing down, will the world one day be overrun with intellectually challenged individuals?
Well, my nearly four year old daughter, who on this blog is called Sausage, has a bit of a speech impediment, she can't pronounce 'f' or 'k' and a few other letters very well. And now she's doing speech therapy, and is slowly getting better.
So, yesterday I was in the garden and my seventy year old neighbour who has these massive bazzooms crammed into a tight white sweater, is chatting to Sausage and Sausage says to her:
"I like your titties. You have nice titties!"
And the woman looks shocked and says, "What?"
"You know, she mixes up her letters," I said. "I think, er, that Sausage is referring to your er, kitties, that are staring out of the window. What are their names?"
Phew. Close one.
Of course, I know that Sausage did say 'titties', because it is always at the worst moment when they pronounce 'rude' words with crystal clarity. Because I am of that school of thought where I let it all hang out and often walk around the house nude and Sausage will tweak my nipple occasionally as if it is something fascinating and say 'you have big titties' (even though they are only average, really). After the hundredth time or so I said, 'Can you stop tweaking my titties?' but that's as repressive as it gets in our house. No 'your private parts are private' or as one crunchy granola nut I know tells her kids: don't let anyone look at your 'special vulva'. Look, I'm all for keeping your private bits hidden at school and in public, but I don't think genitals or sexual parts should be made taboo or something to be ashamed off, that's just daft.
But now I'm wondering if Sausage is going to think it's okay to tweak the neighbor's tits. Which might not go down very well, all things considered.
Later I told Sausage that she shouldn't talk about other people's titties to their face. But I don't really think that the penny dropped. Hmm, a difficult one. How to teach kids that we live in a sexually repressed society that thinks that sex is dirty while encouraging them to feel sexually empowered while shielding them from sexual predators. A bit of a tough one, this. Nevertheless, the incident made me feel sad for the state of society.
What do you think you should teach kids about their bodies and nudity?
Not a lot of people know this, but I used to be a hippy. When I switched from poncey private school to poncey comprehensive school at sixteen, I gave it a really good go.
There were quite a few hippies at the school, who preferred to go around barefoot, which was okay because the school was just by Hampstead Heath, so you could walk on dog turd covered grass rather than dog turd covered pavement. Being a hippy involved:
1. Having hairy armpits.
2. Listening to Van Morrison, Astral Weeks especially ("I love Van the Man, he's so fucking deep, do you know what I'm saying?")
3. Going to 'Smoke Outs' - where you'd spend all night with a bunch of stoners in someone's front room, getting stoned, obviously, then groping someone, passing out and waking up the next morning with carpet burn on your face and bright red eyeballs. Not a good look.
4. Talking shit while you were stoned.
5. Some of the other hippies hugged trees to feel their energy, but I never really got anything out of it.
I quite liked being a hippy, mostly because it really annoyed my mum, ("Why are all your friends so dirty? Why can't they wash their hair?"), especially when I started dating a thirty-eight year old hippy called Roger (I was eighteen). At some point that relationship was terminated, when he came round to the flat while I was out and my mum told him to "piss off and leave my daughter alone." Obviously his hair was that kind of matted dreadlocked style, even though he was white. Obviously he lived in a squat. He was a pretentious tosser who said things like, "Just because this apple is bruised does it mean we should reject it because it is less than perfect?" He was good at sex though....
Where was I? Eventually I got tired of the hippies, with all their talk of past lives ("I had a dream that I was a cat in Ancient Egypt"). And my brush with hippiedom truly ended when I got to university and realized that the acid house era had dawned. Hippies were so yesterday, man.
It was time to shave those pits, to throw out the patchouli and the tie dye skirts. It was time to don a smiley t-shirt and flap your arms like a spasticated penguin, nodding to the lyrics that defined a generation:
"You're twistin' my melon man, you know you talk so hip man You're twistin' my melon man."
The times, they were a-changin: Talking shit on weed was so OVER. If you were going to talk shit, it had to be while you were on E.
Anyway, yesterday I was at the pool I go to, listening in to these two middle aged tattooed hippies, and trying not to laugh at their conversation.
One of them was wearing a bikini, wool socks and DM boots, (even though it was 90 degrees F).
Tattooed Hippy 1: Do you want to hold my stone? It's from India, called a Lingam. It's a power stone, very calming.
TH2: (Takes a brown pebble from TH1): Wow! Not a visible power surge, but it feels good.
TH1: I belong to this drumming group, (TH2 did not crease up in laughter at this), and we have this tradition in the group called a 'giveaway.'
TH2: What's that?
TH1: Well, at the end of each gathering, one of the drummers gives something away to the rest of the group. And last week an acupuncturist in the group gave me this stone. She had some negative energies coming off her, so when I got home I cleansed the stone - I stuck it in some dirt. I've taken to carrying it around to center me. Hey, it's your birthday today, isn't it?
TH1: In that case, I'm going to send you a birthday greeting from this friendly rock.
She actually said that the rock was sending a greeting.
That's when I realized the big problem with hippies...absolutely no sense of irony.
What about you, what trend did you follow as a teen? How bad were the clothes? Do you admit to having once being a hippy?
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Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?