I’m despondent. Out of options. I’m channel hopping but there’s nothing on. I try internet dating and spill the ingredients that make me up and specify the shopping list I’m after. But it can’t bring any decent result: all available options are either loons or prostitutes. And anyone remotely credible is house-bound with kids and I don’t want to have some kid’s karate lessons on my mind.
It’s Maria who sets me straight. She’s on the line, frantically wanting me to meet her at the hospital. The time has come. I look around the room. What to pack? I’m a bundle of nerves.
Maria is already in stirrups. I’m sterilised up and feel like a boner in an abattoir. There’s blood. I apologise to the doctors for my tardiness and mention something about lots of traffic. They ignore me. There’s total devotion to Maria’s pussy; a doctor is down there, poking away, as I hold Maria’s hand. We take turns squeezing. She sweats buckets and keeps looking down at her fanny hoping to see some magic. But her fanny is covered by a sheet beneath which is a doctor who is a plumbing expert.
Remembering my own tooth trauma I urge Maria to be strong. The fanny doctor looks up and frowns at me. What?
‘Hey, it’s not my fault – I didn’t knock her up!’ I say.
‘Breathe’ the doctor tells me.
I’m embarrassed. I’m forgetting what I learned at yoga. Maria and I, we get it together, and start breathing in unison. Much else I don’t remember. I must have fallen into a trance. Or unconscious. Whatever. But suddenly I’m sitting on a chair outside the Maria-is-having-a-baby room. Maybe I fainted. I hear Maria howl. Ooow. She has gone into overdrive. Ooow. It’s pandemonium as everyone shouts at her to push. I whisper it to myself from the corridor.
Push. Push. Push.
The next day I collect an under-inflated Maria and bring her home with her newborn. It’s all I can do to make amends for leaving the delivery room. The baby is called Mario. His middle name is Louis. I don’t know how I feel about this but convince Maria I’m thrilled.
Things are back to normal. Then Maria returns the favour. She puts things in perspective.
‘Why haven’t you got up to this yet?’ she asks as she lumps Mario in my arms.
‘I’m my own biggest enemy! But it’s not all dumb. I mean, at least I can read my enemies mind and then outfox myself!’
She gets that I’m joking but gets back on track.
‘Louis really. Come on. Start it!’
‘Start making life? Start breeding? I’m concerned about methane levels and doing my bit for the environment.’
‘You always avoid getting serious.’
‘Maria, I don’t know. Really. Sometimes I think my greatest fear is to make sense. It’s the child in me wanting to protect me from adulthood.’
In a way it’s true, there’s a total couldn’t-give-a-shit quality about my life. I keep reality at a distance. I live both carefree and carefully at the same time and fearful of getting caught out with a pram in the hall. It’s also a bit of this: my fathering instinct aside, deep down there’s a lack of self-worth, a sense of inadequacy. After all, what kind of woman would want a child by me? As regards bonding with someone else, it’s looking increasingly unlikely I’ll ever take the plunge and be squared off. So I’ve come to accept that I’m a stray.
‘I don’t understand you. It’s natural!’ Maria says.
‘But I haven’t met the right person.’
‘You better get looking, lots of sexy girls out there.’
‘It’s not that easy. Rejection hurts. The chase is tiring.’
‘Yes, it must be’ she sympathises.
‘Anyway, I seem to be changing in a way I can’t explain.’
‘Well, I question the connection between things. Like, does sex have anything to do with love. Maybe I’m looking for a deeper meaning.’
‘That sounds a hell of a change to the life you’ve been leading. The ladies will love that.’
‘But maybe my dawning has come too late. Maybe I’ve left it too late.’
‘Left it too late for what, Louis?’
‘For settling down with a 25 year old. I’m looking for a 1980s music girl but one who wasn’t actually there!’
Jokes aside, I realise something else. That there’s a vacancy. That I’m a key sign of bachelorhood as I always ask for more than I’m willing to give.
‘I bet during sex you like to be in control’ Maria muses.
‘Actually no. In bed, I’m more of a lie back and dream of Ireland kind of guy.’
It’s true, during sex I like to be dominated. So my problem – if there is one – isn’t in surrendering myself physically but in giving up my mind. Of sharing it; of sharing my thinking. Of letting someone into Alcatraz, past all the fences and trip switches. Past all the petty tests and mind games and in to the inner sanctuary. To the soul. In to hell.
‘Maria, I look at people with kids and don’t know how they do it. The bravery in bringing others into this world.’
‘It’s not so bad a place.’
‘Around the right people, maybe not. But around the wrong kind and I’d rather a bullet than a baby!’
‘You ever consider that you might like to marry?’
‘That’s a big leap from having no girl to suddenly marrying!’
‘Not really given it much thought.’
‘You should. Louis, you can’t go through life having no interest in it!’
‘So the answer is to spawn? Look, the truth is that I fear leaving a footprint, of being a reproductive animal.’
‘Don’t be silly – you’re a jewel of a man, a one-off.’
‘Based on what you know of me!’
‘Stop selling yourself short. If you don’t reach out now what will you do when you’re old?’
‘You’re looking at him now baby!’
‘Still, you’d make a wonderful husband – never boring and great with kids. You’re not a bad boy. Like any good boy, you’re only bad sometimes.’
I agree ‘yes’ and then ‘no’ and hide a little smile. The thought of obeying Maria, or anybody, amuses. We’re both amused. She makes it all sound so simple.
‘As plain as bread’ Maria confirms. ‘Breeding is. But you take it all so seriously.’
‘Maria, you really believe there’s someone for everyone? Even the fat ugly ones?’
‘Yes, Louis, even for the fat ugly ones. And unless you have kids you’ll go through your whole life only lukewarm about life.’