Dude. No Dude.

Whistler, February 2009

We’re sitting in the corner of a steamy restaurant, the smell of oily yam fries and sticky beer rings swirling around us and we’re still pretty new into this.  Our legs are touching under the table, my wine glass is a quarter full and my mind is overdosing on benign observations of the tapestry around us: everything is present in increased dimension at the budding stage of new love.  I notice the small butterfly tattoo of the waitress at the table beside us, the unfamiliarity of the German words from behind us.  I see a man at the doorway, waiting for a table, green ski pants two sizes too short.

I don’t remember the conversation that’s led up to this point, but I remember that he wore a striped black shirt and looked at the middle of my eyeballs when he talked to me.

“I thought you didn’t want kids,” I said, and I am surprised, because I thought I didn’t want any more kids either, because of the rawness and the risk to your heart and all the holy christ this is hard moments.  The possibility that you will be doing it all alone, flailing.

“I didn’t think I did,” he said,”But I think I do.  I would with you.”

And then I remember that my eyes filled, and I knew that another risk would be worth it.

North Vancouver, February 2014

The technician appears suddenly in the corridor at 4:27 pm.

“Kristine.” she says and I look up from my illegal phone.

“Yes!  Oh.  You’re early.  Which is great.  But my husband isn’t here yet.”

“He can come in when he gets here.” She is gruff. “I need to take measurements first.  Room 6.”

I follow her down a long hallway, sloshing with all the water I’ve been guzzling.

“Take off your clothes and you can get on that table.”

She tells me to wedge closer, to straighten my knees, and she presses hard on my bladder with a circular wand that will tell her whether we should worry more than we already do.  I think about dry deserts and salt and anything but how amazing it would feel to pee. Nolan and Corey enter ten minutes in and I press my finger over my lips to Nolan.

“You have to be totally silent so she can concentrate, OK?  Then she will show you.”

She clicks and whirs and turns the screen carefully away and when I glance at Corey to start to tell him that the baby has just kicked me hard, she shushes me sternly.  No talking.

She is concentrating and I smother a smile as the guy in the speakers behind us sings horribly about the baddest girl in the club, which apparently is more non-destructive to concentration than whispering.

20 minutes later, Moderately Angry Ultrasound Technician uses a kleenex to wipe jelly off my belly and suddenly becomes Motherly.

“Here is the heart,” she tells Nolan, beckoning him closer,”And the legs, and the feet right here.  And it is drinking.  Pee.”

Nolan makes a face.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

It’s the question we’ve all been wondering: 88% sure that we were a house destined to be full of noxious gas and toy trucks and pee on the toilet seat.

She shakes her head sadly.

“New law.  I cannot tell you that. I am not allowed.”

“New law? Since 2012?” I ask, thinking of the technician at my 20 week ultrasound for Jude, when she circled his boy bits on her screen and blew them up in a picture for us.

“Yes. New law.”

It’s hormones.  And it’s the fact that I worked through lunch today, and I’m exhausted and these goddamned hormones and my feet stink, I think, and my feet shouldn’t stink, eff you pregnancy smells, and goddamned headaches and I told my family we’d know today, either way.  The tears make me angry at myself, but I let them silently fall anyway.

Corey twitches and Nolan’s eyes widen and I can tell he’s going to start crying too and the technician looks at me with pity and turns the screen to Corey.

“I can’t tell you, but I can show you and you can take a guess for yourself.”

The screen is white and fuzzy and I can’t tell if I’m looking at a paper cut out of a raggedy ann or someone’s unfortunate toe.

She points to something that might be a bum, might be an electric apple.

“Well, I have no idea,”I say,”I can’t see anything there.”

“In here,”she points to an area in the middle of the apple.

“Do you see anything there?”

I look at Corey.

“I don’t see a penis.”

“Right.  No penis.”

I am slow and mute and I’m not really grasping.

“It’s a girl.” Corey says and his face is twitching upward.

“I did not tell you that.” says the technician.

“It’s a girl?”  I’m crying again, but this time it’s with a crazy hope.

“When your doctor tells you that, you act surprised.”

She shuts the door behind her and we are all a bit glassy eyed and the sensory overload is on again: the congealed jelly on the tube, the numbers on the scale, the flecks of green in Nolan’s eyes and Corey’s familiar eyeballs in mine, and I’ll never forget this moment either.

We are having a girl.

My name for the cup is Gerald

I worked as a waitress and a bartender for over a decade and so I know it instinctively: the precise giveaway glint in the eye of the person on the other side of counter that indicates that he hates you with a searing hot fury.  It’s there even as he pleasantly murmurs hello and inquires about your breakfast sandwich preferences, meanders behind the doors to look for vanilla syrup replacement.  He’ll be nice to you, totally acceptably nice. His voice is almost chirpy above the indiscernible menace.  He takes delight in the indiscernability, in fact, but he also knows when you’re on to him.  And that makes the game even more pleasurable.

***

Mornings have been the biggest adjustment.  Without question, the best part of working from home is the ability to roll out of bed and straight to the computer with fuzzy teeth and an unseen cowlick.  These last few months I’ve been fumbling in the dim light of the bathroom, de-puffing my eyes and curling errant frizzles of hair, tiptoeing in the 5:30 deep freeze as to not wake up my snoring household.  Starbucks, a two and a half minute drive from our house,  is on the way to the office and a salve for the jarring frigidity of the mornings.

The same man is always visible in the eye of my headlights as I pull into the empty parking lot right as the store opens.  He has curly hair, thick calves, and he’s always wearing shorts.

“Hello!” he says and I see the glint.  I eye him sideways and I chirp back.

“Good morning!”

“What can I get for you this morning?”

“I’ll have a grande vanilla latte please, non fat milk.”

“And something for breakfast?”

I do, and I change it up every morning because I am pregnant and sometimes the baby needs an oat fudge bar.

“I think a spinach feta wrap today.”

“Excellent.” He busies himself with the nuclear microwave and then returns swiftly.  He wonders what it would be like to push me outside on to the patio, just a little bit, not to maim me really but maybe just a bruise.

“Can I get your name for the cup please?”

“Kristin.”  I respond just as brightly, just as falsely.

Every day for the last 35 work days, at 6:17 am, he has asked me for my name for the cup.  I am the only one in the Starbucks, besides the silent grey-haired man on his laptop in the comfy chairs, the one who nods to me knowingly when I open the door.

Large Short Wearing Secretly Angry barista guy writes it down grimly, K-R-I-S-T-E-N and the espresso dude puts it on the bar when it’s full, and smiles at me wordlessly.  I take my cup, wondering if tomorrow Tall Short Guy will ask me for my name again, or if he’ll remember.

He never remembers.  On the 37th day, I tell him my name is Sarah.  Unfazed, he writes dutifully on my cup and I see the shadow of a satisfied smirk.  He knows he’s getting to me.

On the 38th day, I look him dead on and respond to his question.

“Gerald,” I say,” Gerald.”

Totally, blissfully nonplussed, he writes “Gerri” on my cup in large black Sharpie scrawl.  I tell him I don’t want any breakfast.

***

This morning, I drove to Tim Horton’s for a super shiteous drip coffee.

“I’ll have a large double double please.”

The drive through lady did not ask my name.

***