Chapter Seven, Part One: Door of the Unknown
[NOTE: This piece, though not vulgar, includes mature content and may not be suitable for some audiences. You have been warned.]
This is going to be awkward. After a couple of medically-assisted attempts without a pregnancy, it is now my turn to get tested and make sure the problem isn’t with my “swim team.” There isn’t any particular reason to think it is – I have no genetic or physical history to suggest it would be – but after what Lyena has had to go through, it seems only fair that I should go through the one big test us guys can do to make sure. What can I say? I’m a giver.
Lyena is out of town, so I’m on my own for this visit, and I arrive at the clinic with a feeling I haven’t had since my parents sat me down for “the talk.” I walk up to the desk and the lady in the green scrubs looks at me quizzically. It hasn’t dawned on me until this moment that coming to a fertility clinic sans woman was going to make this endeavor even more awkward. Great.
“Are you a patient,” she asks. “No. Well, yes. I mean, not really. My wife,” I stammer. She smiles and asks my wife’s name. When I tell her she looks up and mentions that it’s a different last name than mine – as if I might not have known this, or if I did, I should have done more to stop it when we got married. Then the smile returns and she asks, “And how can we help you Mr…,” she looks at the pad, “Purvis.”
I feel like a child forced to tell a complete stranger he just wet himself. “I’m here to give a sample,” I whisper. She smiles brightly and says, “A blood sample?” Pause. "No,” I say. “The other one.” “Oh, okay,” she says, her smile becoming even more resolutely fixed upon her face. “Head down to the end of the hall and let the lab know you’re here.” Somehow, her sunny disposition makes me feel better and worse at the same time – like “This isn’t that big a deal,” and “DOESN’T SHE GET HOW BIG A DEAL THIS IS?!”
I head down the hall to the lab, find the tech and let him know I’m here. I’m a little late and this seems to bother him, but he’s a professional, so he only lets his annoyance show just enough that I can tell, but not enough to be rude. He walks down the hall and checks a couple of doors, one of which I know is a bathroom, the other of which could very well be the mythical “Boom-Boom Room.” Both are closed, so he asks me to wait in the waiting area and he’ll come and get me when one of them is available. Please, oh, please let it be the Boom-Boom Room!
I sit down on one of the comfy sofas and am surprised to find a gender-neutral magazine on top of the stack. On my previous visits, this waiting area has been a distinct testosterone-free zone. But now there’s a magazine I’m not embarrassed to read, and on the TV is CNN's Wolf Blitzer with a picture of Madoff behind him. The sound is low, so I can’t hear it, but I assume The Blitz is confirming what an a-hole Madoff is – only in more CNN friendly terms.
As I wait, a few couples wander in and out and I again feel awkward being here alone. What must they think of me, I wonder. “That creepy tall guy doesn’t have a woman. What’s he doing here? Crazy-psycho-stalker! Don’t look, Martha, or he’ll make you sterile!” I’m sure it’s something like that.
THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT
After a while the tech calls my name and I follow him down the hall, past the room I know to be a bathroom and to the Door of the Unknown.He opens it decidedly unceremoniously and ushers me into a small, closet-sized room with a sink, TV/DVD player, magazine rack and office chair. No bed. No candles. No Barry White. No 52-inch flat-screen plasma TV with surround sound. There is no “Boom-Boom” in this room. In fact, the only comfort I can see is that the chair’s seat has been neatly covered with a disposable bed pad so my naked butt doesn’t have to sit where some other man’s naked butt sat probably not that long ago.
No, this isn’t going to be awkward at all.
I notice there are a number of signs distributed around the room. On the outside of the door is a sign that reads “Do Not Disturb” and I think, YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT! On the TV/DVD player, there is a sign that reads “Do Not Turn Off The TV” and I imagine that’s there so that they don’t have to call in an Audio/Visual Technician, which would just make things even weirder. On the wall, another sign reads, “Please do not take the DVDs” and I don’t have to guess why that’s there.
The lab tech points to a specimen cup on the counter and says “Use that for collection and bring it to me when you’re done.” I look at the cup. It’s got to be 10-ounces. It’s like the Big Gulp of specimen cups. I can’t help but feel a little inadequate staring at it, and find myself hoping I don’t have to actually fill it or I’ll be here for days.
The tech closes the door and leaves me alone. Silence. The awkwardness presses in from all directions, as if every girl I ever had a crush on is in the room with me, ready to critique my form. I give the room a quick sweep for hidden cameras, but don’t find any. Though it doesn’t keep me from wondering if Allan Funt is going to jump out from under the sink at some point.
I know I’m going to write about this, so I pull out my iPhone and fire up the recording application I recently got for purposes just like this (well, maybe not just like this). I press record and start noting the specifics of the room and how I’m feeling. After a minute or so, I look down and notice the iPhone’s screen has gone blank. It appears to have turned itself off. I guess it wanted no part of this, and I can’t really blame it. Oh, well, maybe it’s best there’s not a record anyway. I’ll take mental notes.
Up Next… On Pirates and Porn