You Probably Need a Will, So Here's How to Have That Potentially Awkward Conversation with Your Family
Remember, if you die without a will, the state will determine who inherits
We’re back to wining and dining Quentin, not that he requires it. He’s so humble! But, he deserves it.
I’ve come to understand that the ultimate dream donor –- which Quentin is -– must possess two slightly paradoxical things: they have to be invested enough in the process to show up for it, yet totally not at all interested in having anything to do with the offspring. It’s hard to find someone game enough to come over your place and jerk off five days each month, who then doesn’t want to weigh in on what school you’re sending the kid to once it’s walking and talking.
Maybe it takes an individual with Quentin’s particular astrological makeup: Capricorn/Aquarius cusp. Responsible and whimsical. Business-like with a radical vision. Also, not yet at the age when the part of your brain that comprehends risk has been fully formed –- never mind the boundary-illuminating entry into one’s Saturn Return, a few years later.
Quentin is the perfect age, astrological profile, perfectly queer, perfectly adorable, perfect perfect perfect.
We take him to brunch at a fancy place out in Dogpatch, a slowly gentrifying, once-industrial part of San Francisco.
“Of course!” he smiles. He tells us he had been reading about my anonymous donor woes in the blog and was on the verge of texting me a ‘Hellooooo?’ text message. Dashiell asks him if he minds if she asks him some questions. And of course Quentin doesn’t. Quentin totally gets it.
Quentin reiterates his deep lack of interest in having anything to do with raising our kid, and his openness to the kid knowing that they’re spawned of his glittering seed. Dashiell has some additional concerns, mainly grandparents –- Is Quentin planning on telling his parents he’s donating sperm to a couple of lezzes? That they will technically be grandparents?
The thought really disturbs Dashiell, even though she knows that Quentin’s parents are certainly great, sweet people. We’ve seen Intagrams of their Jewish Christmas decorations. Quentin visits a lot and seems to have a not-traumatic relationship with them. Still, so much of our family-creating contains these elements that are out of our control. Most parents don’t have to worry about their kid having grandparents they themselves don’t know. It’s a little weird.
I myself like weird. In my gut I know that if these people ever do learn of our kid, after they get over whatever shock or complicated feelings they themselves might have, they’ll probably just want to love our kid and spoil it rotten. Which I am down for! Me and Dashiell both have very small families –- on my end it’s my sister and her family, and our mom. I just started reconnecting with some long-lost cousins, so who knows where that will go, but in general my family of origin is scant.
Same for Dashiell –- she’s got her mom and her sister and her sister’s wife. So, if there is another thread of love out there that our kid can connect to, I think that’s cool. I always wanted to discover some sort of mystery family. I’m sort of jealous of the potential of our kid’s family circle.
Quentin is not telling his parents about this. Not now, maybe someday. We make it clear that we’re not asking him not to tell them. We can’t really ask such things of Quentin. But it sounds like he’s not available for the feelings avalanche such news would surely bring down, either.
We drop Quentin back at the house he’s staying at. He’s no longer living in San Francisco, not technically. He movd to Santa Cruz to go to grad school, and is keeping a large drag closet in the city for his weekend performances. The drag closet has a mattress, so he crashes there and then returns to the coast where he buzzes around town on a cute green Vespa. Quentin makes me want to die. Or give birth.
It’s New Year’s Eve. I am so glad that we are ringing in the year with all of our plans in order, our ducks in a row, our dreams all lined up and ready to come true. Next week I’ll have another sonogram attempt to get the all-clear on my womb, and then it’s just about getting Quentin set up at the clinic. I don’t know what that entails, but it can’t be worse than him coming to my house five days each month for the last year. I’m super ready to celebrate our awesome life!
We decide to go karaoke at a private room to ring in 2013, joined by my ex Vito who is in town with his girlfriend Liza. Mallory joins us, as does Vito’s cousin Floridana, who Mallory has been making out with.
We get to the karaoke room first, which is great, because that means I can try out a couple of really iffy numbers before a real audience arrives. BTWs, I love private room karaoke. I know a lot of the joints have the seedy feeling of a low-rent brothel, but we’ve found one underneath a Japanese restaurant that is cheery and fun, with tambourines and disco lighting and cityscapes lining the wall in a tacky-but-good way.
And there’s a phone that goes right to the kitchen and you can pick it up and order sushi and drinks. Dashiell immediately orders a pitcher of beer and a giant bottle of Sake. When it all shows up I’m like, Whoa. Who’s going to drink all that? I’m sober, and so is Vito. Liza doesn’t seem to drink much, if at all. Mallory isn’t much of a drinker, and Floridana is often going off and on the sauce, so who knows where she’s at tonight.
Dashiell only slightly realizes what a ridiculous amount of booze she has bought. She’s used to hitting these rooms with a gang of 20 co-workers and just ordered her usual. Soon our friends arrive, right in the middle of me attempting the falsetto heights of Def Leppard’s "Bringing on the Heartache." Vito and Liza laugh at all the liquor and order Cokes. Dashiell forces a beer on Mallory. Floridana shows up and it seems that she is indeed drinking. Vito starts programming a barrage of songs into the que, and we’re off!
We had the room reserved for two hours. Two hours is not enough time ina karaoke room. Your heart breaks. You’re just getting brave enough to try some new jams. We beg the lady upstairs for another hour, and it’s granted. Dashiell is getting drunk. Mallory is getting drunk. Floridana is getting drunk. At the end of the hour, we beg the hostess for a fourth hour, and she moves us into a room down the hall.
Two hours is not long enough in a karaoke room. Three hours is perfect. Four hours is too much. Dashiell is so drunk she is programming songs into the que and when they come up she’s all, "Who’s song is this?" She forgets the words to Pulp songs that she could sing in her sleep.
Mallory’s greeting was too warm for hot/cold Floridana, so the two of them are sitting across the room from one another. Floridana is drunk and wild, singing brassy show tunes. Mallory is drunk and morose, climbing on the benches and singing Echo and the Bunnymen songs at the wall, or laying down on the floor like she has given up on life. Vito, who takes karaoke way to seriously, is becoming agro. It’s a lesson in leaving the party when you’re having fun. By the time we leave the party, the fun has sort of leaked away, and it’s not even midnight.
Vito has decided to lead us all to a church on a hill to see the fireworks at midnight. As we walk along I realize how wasted Dashiell is. Dashiell never gets wasted, She’ll get a little tipsy if we sing or go dancing, the kind of tipsy I can tease her about, saying things like, “You’re so wasted!” and “You’re in a black out!”, because she so isn’t. I would not make those jokes right now.
She wants to go to a party at Tali and Bernadine’s house, but I keep explaining it’s not a party, it’s just Tali and Bernadine and another couple, all filling out these 12-steppy workbooks Tali made to prepare for your coming year. There is no way I can bring wasted Dashiell into their quiet observation of 2013.
Dashiell gets offended at this, the way people who are very drunk get offended when someone points out that they are very drunk. It’s always baffling to me –- didn’t you drink a million quarts of booze so that you could specifically get blotto? Then why so defensive when you’ve made your dream come true. Dashiell insists she’s not drunk.
"Well, you’re too drunk to go over Tali’s," I say. Tali is sensitive to drunks. She really doesn’t like them.
“Listen,” Dashiell tries to reason with me. “Pretend you just met me. OK?”
“OK,” I say, knowing this is only something a drunk person would propose to prove they’re not drunk.
“Hi,” she says.
“Hello,” I say back.
“See?” she says.
The obsession with crashing Tali’s sober domesticity is forgotten as a cab cruises by and Dashiell jumps into it without saying goodbye to anyone.
“Come on,” she says, “I got us a cab!”
I’m actually totally sick of walking and want to go home so I’m grateful for the cab and leap in next to Dashiell, shouting a goodbye to everyone else. It appears that Mallory might be fighting with Floridana, and Floridana might be fighting with Vito. As it happens, we were all walking in the wrong direction and they never make it to the church and miss the fireworks.
It is fun being with drunk Dashiell because she is so silly and adorable. But then there are moments when she doesn’t understand what I’m saying, and goes, “What did you say?” in this sort of defensive way that reminds me she’s drunk, and that drunk people are irrational. We make it home and decide to go up to the roof to see the fireworks. She wants to take off the magic bra that makes her breasts vanish, and get comfortable.
“OK,” I say, and watch as she attempts to pull off her Polo-style shirt with all three buttons buttoned up to her neck. Her bra is also tugged up around her neck. She looks trapped and insane and slighty disturbing.
“Help me.” Her voice is muffled by all the clothing covering her head. I unbutton the buttons stuck under her chin and she pulls it all off and wraps a hoodies around her naked torso. “OK let’s go to the roof.” She is totally cracking me up.
“You have to be very, very careful,” I tell her as we pick our way up four flights of stairs to our roof.
“I’m fine,” she says, banging into an aluminum ladder hanging on a hook outside a neighbor’s door.
On the roof the fireworks are awesome explosions in the foggy darkness. He hug and watch them twinkle and fade, and then get a little bored and go downstairs.
“I’ll make us a frozen pizza,” I tell her. “And why don’t you take some Ibuprofen?”
“I don’t want to take any Ibuprofen,” she snaps like I’ve offended her.
I’ve seen Dashiell suffer a hangover from a couple of beers; I know she is going to be clobbered tomorrow. “Just take a couple and have some water,” I urge her. “You’ll be really glad you did in the morning.”
“I said I don’t want to, and I don’t like being forced to take medicine.” She is being really pissy. We’re never pissy to each other. But I’ve forgotten I am dealing with a drunk person.
“Really?” I ask, truly baffled. “You don’t want to just not have a hangover tomorrow?”
Dashiell grows more incensed, and claims that it’s dangerous for him to take Ibuprofen while drinking. He says it in a deeply offended tone, like I am trying to kill him. Now we’re arguing.
“Dashiell, you don’t want to do this,” I tell her. “Let’s just forget it, OK?”
I go into the kitchen and take the pizza out of the oven. I know she is going to feel like such a fool in the morning, but my feelings are stinging, and so are my eyes. I hate being talked to like that. Me and Dashiell really never speak to each other in shitty tones, and the shock of it has shaken me up. Plus I’m just very sensitive to being spoken to roughly. I get myself together and bring the pizza into the bed, where we eat it side by side in silence. Everything feels awful.
“Really?” I ask. “We’re just going to sit here and not talk to each other?”
Apparantly we are. We finish our pizza and go to bed. What about that superstition about how you spend New Years is how you’re going to spend your year? Fuck that stupid superstition. Stupidstition. Of course I can’t sleep. I’m sad and hurt and angry and can’t believe we are having a fight about taking Ibuprofen. We’re better than this.
“You know, it’s really easy to blame the drunk person, because they can’t defend themselves,” Dashiell says wisely.
I decide the moment is bad enough to justify me dredging my pack of Secret Cigarettes out of the junk drawer and go smoke in the yard. I hop out of bed. Dashiell responds with alarm.
“Where are you going?”
“In the yard.”
She knows what that means. I’ve been driven to smoke. It breaks her heart.
“No, no, no, you can’t!” she cries. All her Virgoan coldness burned away by her Virgoan fear of me polluting my body. “Please, please get in here with me!”
Normal Dashiell has fought her way through drunk belligerent Dashiell. And I don’t really want to smoke anyway. I’ll feel so gross when I come back upstairs, I’ll have to take a shower and scrub myself OCD-style, with every bath product in the shower, and then brush my teeth for three hours and drink mouthwash. And I’ll still smell like cigarettes. And then I’ll get a sinus infection, like that. So I get back in the bed and Dashiell wraps herself around me, crying and asks if I’m going to leave her. I laugh.
“No,” I tell her. “I’m never going to leave you.”
In the morning things are slightly delicate but not fragile. We kiss and hug and eat croissants and Dashiell calls me into the living room for a surprise. I pull myself out of the pile of Sunday New York Times I’m shrouded in and waddle onto the couch. She has a big, wrapped present for me.
“What is this?” I ask, delighted. “Christmas is over!”
“Just open it.”
I unwrap what is the greatest jewelry box. Just the greatest. It’s a maroon leather case with drawers that slide out and reveal more, secret drawers. It’s masculine, it’s not all ballerina-pink of Tiffany-blue like every jewelry box I’ve encountered on my ongoing search for a jewelry box. I’m so excited, I stop for a moment and just elaborate to Dashiell why this is the best jewelry box ever and how he is a miracle for having found it.
“Keep going, look at all the compartments,” she urges.
I pull out the last one, which has a velveteen tray divided for rings and earrings. It’s removable. I pull it out and for a minute I just don’t understand the diamond ring that is sitting there on a tawny velveteen pillow. Like, I just don’t comprehend it. And then I do, and my body flushes hot hot hot and then cold cold cold, a totally physical sensation so that I’m numb and rushing at once.
And Dashiell is talking, she’s telling me that she loves me so much and she wants to take care of me forever and will I marry her, and I am crying and touching the diamond –- which I never, ever thought I’d give a fuck about, a diamond, who cares, but guess what, it is the most beautiful sparkly twinkling piece of magic, embedded on a band that arches up, latticed like a bridge and trimmed with bunches more teeny-tiny diamonds.
I think I’m saying Oh my god oh my god, and just trying to get my head together and also not trying to get my head together because I understand this is one of those singular moments in life and I want to draw it out and sit in it, this timeless space, for as long as possible.
And we kiss and I tell her how much I love her and then she asks, “So, you’ll marry me?” in this voice like she really doesn’t know, like she’s worried, which is the most insane thing ever, even more insane then waking up to a diamond ring, and I say, “Oh my god of course I’ll marry you,” and we make out some more and I’m happy I’m crying because it means my 40mg of Citalopram aren’t killing my feelings and because crying when being proposed to I something women tend to do and I like these occasional affirmations that I am normal.
“Of course I’ll marry you,” I tell her, and then everything is a blur of crazy feelings and love and kisses and crying.