I've known Keith for about 13 years, and through the many and varied misfortunes of my life, and indeed his own, we've managed to keep in contact with each other (at least once every few months). We've written movies and books together, had intellectual conversations worth remembering, and, for the most part, been there for each other. If nothing more, it's been as simple as still hanging on when everyone else lets go.
Keith has known Heather for about 4 years, and has been dating her for 3. For the last year and a half or so, he's been keeping me up to date on their relationship, including the oddities of going from just two kids hanging out to two people truly in love.
Several months ago, when they were doing that which all parents detest and all teenage couples find irresistable, they had a technical malfunction involving a condom. The next morning, they rushed themsleves off to the clinic to get the morning-after pill. All was well, and life went on.
A couple days ago, however, it happened again. Fortunately, Keith and Heather were planning on going to college together, moving in together, and getting married. This time around, however, Heather decided that she couldn't take the pill. It was, she said, just like abortion. It was murder. So she didn't... and any day now we'll find out just how committed they might have to be to each other.
I made one thing clear to Keith while we sat in a '50s diner in a nearby suburb, me chomping away at an oriental chicken salad, him sweating over a pizza he hadn't even touched. I told him that if there is a kid, don't leave it at home to watch TV all day while you go to work, don't hire a babysitter just to do that, and don't never touch the kid. You fear it now, what all it will bring and how much it will cost you to have a child, but once he's here (or she), accept that in the ultimate sense of the world, it's a wonderful thing. I told him that of all the young men I knew, he was probably the best suited to being a father, and that after three years, they probably knew enough about each other to make a go of raising a kid. I told him that if they didn't end up with a kid, they might consider holding back on the sex a little, more of a special-occasion thing perhaps. I told him that the most important conversation of his - or someone else's - life, would be that of what to do the next time it happens. Condoms breaking aren't that rare, and while most people just take the pill, if it's such an issue, then what are you going to do next time?
But the one thing I told him which I really hope he takes seriously was that if he ever needed someone to watch the kid, hold the kid, talk to the kid, give the kid something more than endless hours of TV, or donate money to help raise the kid - well, I don't have much, but what I have, I'll give.
I've somehow remained virgin for eighteen and a half years. At this point, literaly everyone I know has been swept up into that dilerious ecstacy, and most probably before they were ready, and for most probably not has immaturely as their parents would beleive. Maria's record is six times in one night, my sister's is four. I've heard all about and sometimes even gotten close - too close - to experiencing those delightful drunken orgy sorts of things which teenagers dive headlong into. Crystal comes into work and shows us her rug-burned back, Dana brags about how many different kinds of porn she owns. Keith is a good guy, and I would no more question his decision to have premarital sex than any adult, but it seems less and less appealing by the day. Now even those who were good and did it only in love have this major thing to worry about.
I tend to have faith, usually too much, in things working themselves out. I think Keith's kid, if there is a kid, will be a great human being. I think Keith and Heather will make great parents.
And lately, I 've become very much okay with not being part of that drunken orgy. Carrie says that when you look back at all those guys who you did it with without being completely in love, it was like giving something away. She says it hurts. Lately, I've gotten used to the prospect of being cool and virgin at the same time.
I ask myself, even so, if goodness makes good things happen, then why was such a pure love as theirs interupted by this most uneeded possibility? Well... I don't think it was. The decision was theirs, take the pill and kill the chance, or don't, and pay some minute respect to life. I guess if you decide not to, you can't regret it later. It's your choice. And I think that if you choose to let that life be, then you have the strength of character to raise it will, even if the initial decision was, in my opinion, made in very bad taste. See, I think they were wrong not to take the pill. It's worse to step on a fly in my opinion, and I step on plenty of flies. Life isn't inherently valuable, I think. It has to grow and make others grow, change the world, or itself. What little fragment of a life might come within those first few hours I cannot make myself respect for more than random cells, those of a cheek or eyebrow or any other bit of body. So while I disagree with their decision, I still am forced to admire them for having made it knowing full well what the consequences just could be, simply because it was what they beleived.
And now - for a friend - I might have to live up to that admiration. I might have to spend a lot of time caring for someone who, by process of deduction, shouldn't, in my thinking process, even have been. And with that knowledge, raise him/her well. That, I think, may prove to be an amazing challenge, and hopefully as much a process of growth for me, as for the child.