Þlightly amuþing Þursday
Three things you might find funny, or maybe it's just me:
A couple of weeks ago I got a pitch in my e-mail for Ina May Gaskin's new book, Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta. (I am not exactly sure what earns that word its terminal A, except perhaps that the book pertains to the vagina, noun, f., and not the testiclos.)
Gaskin, if you don't already know, is kiiiind of a big deal all up in your straining cervix; she's regarded as "the mother of modern midwifery" who has, it is fair to say, revolutionized non-hospital birth in the U.S. And however you feel about birth, whatever you believe about how it is best accomplished, no matter how hard you search for the missing F that makes us say midwifffffery, if you're interested in reproductive topics you don't immediately chuck that e-mail without reading it, the way you would the fourth — seriously, four — message reminding you that May is Pregnancy Awareness Month, Exclamation Point! Thank you, yes: I am aware that pregnancy exists.
So I read the mail, or started to, but I got hung up on the second line, which referred to "the magic key to safe birth: respect for the natural process."
And then sent a nice note back: "My blog is not, perhaps, the best advertisement for that natural process." And did not add any helpful advice about where to shove that magic key.
Speaking of respecting that ol' natural process all like I do, HA HA HA HA 15 EGGS ohhhhh. I love to laugh.
Wait, I'll let you in on the joke. Seems researchers have found that the optimal number of eggs to retrieve in a single IVF cycle in order to achieve a live birth is...15.
We didn't have that many mature eggs total over the course of many cycles, including our donor cycle. I'm glad we didn't know at the time that 15 was some sort of magic number. Otherwise we might have started thinking fertility treatment sucked or something.
And now for something completely different: A million years ago I used to be slightly famous on the Internet. This was back when I was in college, before Mark Zuckerberg founded Apple, when we were all still watching YouTube on 8-track in our Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes. Men outnumbered women on the net then by about 17,000,000,000 to one, and I was one of those ones. And I was kind of cute, which I guess you could tell in those prehistoric ASCII times by the perky way I typed my @s, so I achieved some popularity.
I also got some dates. When a local gentleman ventured to chat me up online, I was generally willing to meet him, at least, and that is how I met Bloodaxe.
Face to face, he introduced himself by his Christian name, and he was exactly what you imagine when you think of someone who went by Bloodaxe online circa 1990: the sun-kissed outdoorsy type, gifted with an innate social ease, owning absolutely no clothing with wolves on it. Or, you know, exactly the opposite. I want to tread carefully, because he was a really nice guy and I don't want to make fun of him here. (That comes later in the story.) So just conjure a picture for yourself and I promise you won't be far wrong.
And he was perfectly pleasant, if you could get past White Fang there, so when upon our first meeting he invited me to the Founder's Ball, an event my school put on every three years, I accepted with pleasure. I duly poured myself into a beaded cocktail dress and tottered off to meet my destiny, who stood that night a full foot shorter than I in my ill-advised 4" stilettos. Which was only a problem, really, when we began...to waltz.
Waltz. It was that kind of ball.
But he was a sport and I was a sport, so we waltzed as best we were able. That is to say my heel only nearly tore through his Achilles' tendon every time we attempted a turn, and I only mostly died of embarrassment every time my chin brushed the top of his head. I will not speak of the single attempt he made, defying physics, to dip me.
We left shortly thereafter, before the ambulance could get there.
But the evening wasn't over yet. With exquisite delicacy and a becoming diffidence he asked me back to his room to continue this pleasurable congress; he was enough of a gentleman that I agreed, not fearing his advances.
Free advice, my Internet friends: Fear his advances. Fear them.
An unexpected snow had started to fall, disrupting his plans for us to sit outside. Instead he shooed out his roommate, who'd been studying at his desk. Topology mid-term be damned: this night was made...for love.
He dimmed the lights. He lit some candles. He spread a fake fur throw on the three feet of floor separating the room's twin beds and invited me to sit. My spike heels, my sheath dress, and I prudently chose a chair.
He offered me a glass of champagne from his cube of a dorm room fridge. And if I was the woman and this was the wine, could the song part be far off? Alas, it seemed it could not, because Bloodaxe took out a lute and then began to sing.
I don't remember what he sang; I'm not sure I noticed then, so intense was my horror, so loud was the shrieking in my head. Let's say it was olde and mystickal, though, as it would have been in character.
Plinka plinka oh cryngeing lady fairest of alle thinge plinka plinka longinge steales upon me lyk a hœngrye grue plinka plinka strummity strum treue of love, her knyght so bold plinka plinka more comely stille than Deanna Trói plinka plink ye Ren Faire soone attending...
The only saving grace was that he did not crouch on the fake fur at my feet to sing. He sat on the bed instead. The throw lay dead there between us, a lustrous gulf of Oh Hell No that he mercifully did not cross.
It was awful. Somehow I kept my composure, not so much out of kindness — because he was a nice guy, and surely kindness was called for — but because I was frozen by the awkwardness of the entire scene. I don't care how nice you are; you just don't serenade on the first date. Busting out a lute is like third base, dude.
But my composure would not last. He had hardly finished his song, its plangent nøtes still echœing in the ær, and I had barely begun to untwist out of my involuntary convulsion of embarrassment, when he produced a little book. It was a plain black notebook, its pages much thumbed, and he held it up to show me, before uttering the seven little words that freed me from my chair:
"Would you like to hear my haiku?"
Reader, I married him.
Hahahaha, no. I just slandered him on the Internet 20 years later.
Hahahaha, yes. Well. Because he was a nice person, I left decently, suddenly noticing, my, how late it had gotten! I thanked him nicely for a lovely evening and assured him that he need not escort me home. NO, REALLY. If I am menaced by a bear I will simply gouge its eyes out with the fearsome point of my shoe, which incidentally provides excellent traction in the inch of snow that has fallen, and you probably wouldn't think so but these tiny cap sleeves are actually quite warm, so, thanks, but I wouldn't care to borrow a coat, and NO, REALLY. I WANT TO WALK HOME ALONE. The snow has stopped! Probably! Almost, anyway! It's fyn! Marry, I lyk it welle! The ære out here is só criðp!
And none of this story has a point at all, except as an illustration, I guess, of what a tool I was and still am, that I find this whole thing hilarious. Recently an old boyfriend found me on Facebook, and it got me thinking about those college years. Out of idle curiosity I Googled Bloodaxe and a few other relevant terms last night, to see if he'd left any online traces from that time — a post in the school's Usenet gaming groups was honestly all I'd expected.
I didn't know his last name — hadn't known it even on our date — so I didn't expect to find much. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found him in one of the school's publications, an official document that indicated that Bloodaxe...was his last name. His legal name. The name he actually goes by. Like, when telemarketers call his house, they ask for Mr. Bloodaxe.
I waltzed with a man named Bloodaxe. With Bloodaxe did I quaff the elixir of the grape. I fled the haiku of Bloodaxe, and I lived to tell the tale.
And when I found out that was his real, for-true name — assumed, I am sure, and not inherited, although now probably one of you will tell me that, actually, when your ancestors arrived at Ellis Island in 790 they were known as the Bloodaxekovskeviches — I had qualms about telling this whole story. I mean, who wants to Google themselves and find some asshole laughing at your earnest 20-years-ago self, when your only crime was that you worked very, very hard to show a girl a harmless good time?
But then I realized that when you Google Bloodaxe, really, all you get is results like these:
...not one of which is wearing a wolf T-shirt. And I decided it was probably okay. I think he or his kids or employers are frankly unlikely to find this. After all, I'll never be Ynternet-fæmous ynough to outrank Wikipedia.