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|My wife has gone from
being the consumer
to the consumed.
|by David Holzel
going to have a baby, Sheri and
I. When she told me the news, my first reaction was pure
excitement -- A baby! Our legacy. Our bridge to the 21st
century. Another soldier in the war for Jewish
continuity, the ultimate fruit of our creativity,
touchstone of our reality, great ego leveler, perspective
provider of life's ultimate priorities.
My next thought was that this is a dreadful way of going about things. The worst possible way.
Today, when our metaphors are electronic, when reality is mostly virtual, when vegetables come pre-cut, beef is irradiated, chickens go down the assembly line like Chevys and everything we touch comes to us shrink-wrapped, pregnancy is practically incomprehensible. Like runes or Pat Boone's career.
|To gestate seems so animal, so... unnatural.
Think how savage and archaic it is. They did it
way back in Torah times, like animal sacrifice. It's the
kind of thing you'd expect to see it in a colonial
village reconstruction -- all that mortality and
suffering -- or in earthy countries like Italy. You
associate it with hippies, with teenagers, and the
They say babies should come with an instruction book.
I say, get real. We've discovered there's no tech support
whatsoever. No 800 number. No chipper young voice at the
other end of the line ready to walk you through this
simple but completely mystifying glitch. The whole
concept is goofy. Can you imagine one of our fine
multinational corporations running a nine-month project
this way? No team leader. No needs study. No mission
statement. No budget. No meetings, lunches,
teleconferences. No incentives to bring the thing in
early. It's a recipe for disaster. If this method were
adopted globally, interest rates would skyrocket, Dow
Jones would plummet and the rest of us would be on street
corners by next Tuesday selling apples.
All this is fairly obvious. But I've learned there are
some covert things happening that the ordinary citizen
can't affect, even if he finds about them early enough.
Like placenta. Sheri's manufacturing that versatile
combination of bubble wrap and Burger King right now. As
I'm writing this. And when we're driving to the mall.
Even when we're solicited by the Jewish Theological
Seminary for the third time in a month. She's doing it all
the time. With no hope of outsourcing. She isn't the
consumer anymore. She's the consumed.
If I haven't convinced you that pregnancy is a feral
threat to our way of life, consider this: Sheri and I,
through no fault of our own, are violating the biggest of
all our cultural taboos. We are seriously out of control.
I mean, I've spent most of my life trying not to
get some woman pregnant. Making sure at least one of us
is using birth control. For years, birth control has been
my mantra, my hedge around the Torah. The failure of such
control can be ruinous.
And as we've learned, the loss of control is
ruinous. Think of that poor shmuck who lost control and
propped a photo of his wife on his desk at work. His wife
was in a bikini and that caused discomfort to a female
colleague. Imagine if he hadn't been stopped from going
down the slippery slope. He might have let it slip that
he and his wife were exchanging bodily fluids. Perhaps
without birth control.
We've reached a point where we can alter the
temperaments of those we consider out of control. With a
pill, we can bring people whose personalities make us
uncomfortable -- too quiet, too nervous, too loquacious,
too cantankerous, too impetuous -- into our comfort zone.
Our technology allows us to rest assured that we will all
be able to control ourselves.
But with this pregnancy, I'm embarrassed to admit, everything
is out of control. Sperm shooting off like starships.
Eggs transforming. Chemicals metamorphosing into life.
Before you know it there's a heart beat. Ears, nose,
gender (be careful who you show those sonograms). You
keep fiddling with your remote control, but the show
won't turn off.
We've kinda become Bonnie and Clyde with this thing.
So what I'm wondering now is this: When they come for us,
do we go quietly or shoot it out? And why is everyone so
happy for us?
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