Michelle Tea: Happy Birthday, Quentin!

Quentin comes over carrying an unwieldy, hand-written protest sign. Occupy SF has been shutting down the financial district since the early morning, and Quentin has been down there all day, celebrating his birthday with some free speech and outrage.
Publish date:
March 28, 2012
pregnancy, childbirth, birthdays, insemination

It’s my SuperDonor’s 28th birthday. According to astrology, Quentin is starting his Saturn Return, wherein he learns his limitation. According to science, the area of the brain that comprehends risk is now fully formed. I feel like I got in just under the wire with Quentin, while the thought of giving a lady his genetic material is fun and whimsical in a "Sex In the City" meets "Tales of the City" sort of way, before his mind and spirit become altered by these evil, responsible influences. Like when I booked a European performance tour that wound up being really punk and unprofitable and had us sleeping in questionable squats -- everyone in their 30s dropped out, but the 20-somethings had a blast. Aging does change you. But queers age different from the rest of the world, and I’d be willing to bet drag queens age even more differently, and that Quentin will be a youthful, magical creature deep into his golden years. Plus, as he is smack on the Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, his notions of logic and responsibility will always be eccentric. Didn’t he once tell me that donating sperm seemed really rational? Quentin is my perfect donor!

So perfect he comes over for insemination on the actual day of his birth! I treat him to a tarot reading and a big pot of tea and some fruit while I lay out the cards, divining information about where he should go to grad school -- New York City? Santa Cruz? -- and what to make of romantic intrigues. I give him a ceramic soft serve ice cream cone. “Do you know how much I LOVE ice cream?” he gasps, delighted. I didn’t! But when I saw the bright yellow tchotchke in the store, I thought of Quentin immediately.

Oh yeah -- Quentin doesn’t just come over, he comes over in a rain poncho, carrying an unwieldy, hand-written protest sign. Occupy SF has been shutting down the financial district since the early morning, and Quentin has been down there all day, celebrating his birthday with some free speech and outrage. His sign reads, I TURNED 28 TODAY AND ALL I GOT WAS AN ECONOMY DESTROYED BY BANKERS, CEOS + POLITICIANS, with a little #occupybirthday tag at the bottom.

This is a self-insemination date as Rhonda and Dashiell are both at work. I lay around for a half hour, doing such intense shoulder stands to GET THE SPERM UP THERE that I kick the giant floral painting hung above my bed straight off wall, just like Dashiell was afraid I would. It slides behind my headboard without harming me, but it sure makes me jump. My half hour up, I pop in a tampon and binge madly on rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly while catching up with "Project Runway All Stars" on my computer. I feel snug in my house on this rainy day, and the glitz of Quentin’s birthday has rubbed off on me. It feels like a holiday.

And it continues to feel like a holiday, because my sister brings her whole family to visit me from Los Angeles! Let’s give my sister an identity beyond being my sister -- let’s call her Madeline. That would be pronounced Mad-e-LINE, not Mad-e-LIN. The French way, because my sister is classy and elegant like that.She is accompanied by her equally classy husband Walden, and their three year-old-daughter, Olive. And also the tiny fetus growing in her belly. My sister is PREGNANT!

When she first found out she was preggers, Madeline was afraid the news would make me sad, or somehow upset. Our mom worried about this, too -- it was sort of like the, "Oh ... you got your period. Are you OK?" check-in, but more so. I know that a lot of women trying to conceive get really hurt and stressed out at the sight of women around them getting all pregs, maybe especially the women closest to them. But I am only excited for my sister, the source of all fertility information, tracker of my period. It seems only right that she would get pregnant sooner, as she is the master. And now I get to have another niece-nephew-person!

"Are you sure?" everyone checks in. I am sure! Perhaps this is one of the benefits of going to a 12-Step-Program for 9 years, but I don’t see how Madeline’s pregnancy has anything to do with me getting knocked up. If anything, it is proof that it happens -- women get pregnant! I am a woman, therefore, I may get pregnant, too!

The weekend revolves around Olive, who at the age of three is already an art connoisseur. We visit a show of contemporary art from India at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where she is charmed by a giant pink dinosaur built from plastic bottles. At the Asian Art Museum she digs some shiny Buddhas and gets really into an ancient statue of a canine Tibetan Dakini, calling her "doggy girl." We all eat pancakes together -- Dashiell, too -- and go on a carousel. I tell Olive that Dashiell once flew an airplane -- just to make her even MORE like some debonair gentlemen from a finer era, Dashiell took a flying lesson and manned a small plane -- and now my niece thinks Dashiell is a pilot. It is so sweet to see Dashiell and Olive interact, and my heart gets all fat and gooey at the sight and of course all I can think of is how wonderful, how exciting and sweet she will be to raise a child with.

I promised Olive a tea party and promised that we would both wear very fancy dresses, so we get to my house a bit early to change and set up before our guest Rhonda comes over. Per usual, there are sperm dishes in the sink. Madeline bravely washes them. She inspects them from all sides and shakes her head.

"I don’t know about these bowls," she says.

"What about them?" I ask.

"Well, they’re old. Who knows what they’re made of. There could be something that harms sperm, there could be lead, who knows."

Lead! It’s one thing to have been serving my party guests lead-tainted olives and chocolates out of these bowls, quite another to be cooking up sperm in them! And, speaking of cooking, I voice a lingering concern that has been building -- could the bowl be too hot? I try to "warm" it in my oven, but my oven runs high, and the bowl is always so hot I have to pull it out with a dish towel and let it cool down while Quentin works his magic. To think that it could contain toxic contaminants that I’m COOKING in the oven seems doubly bad.

"Ask Walden to Google ‘best conditions for sperm’ on his phone," she tells me. Madeline is so no-nonsense about everything, she’s amazing. But regardless of how comfortable they are, how cool Walden is and how uninihibited I am, I feel a tad shy about asking my brother-in-law to do some sperm research for me. And me feeling shyer than Madeline is hilarious, considering every disgusting, strange perverted thing she has witnessed on this earth has been via me, whether it be the dykes giving each other bare-assed spanking in the entry to the lez bar I brought her to, oodles of terrible, graphic erotica at literary events, or the time we both gaped in horror as a porn star played guitar and sang beneath a video of her fucking herself with the heel of a stilleto shoe. “I just hope they’ve never been worn," Madeline said.

Walden hear us in my bedroom, where he and Olive are playing with a bowl full of seashellYou want me to Google what?" he yells.

"Sperm!" I walk in and ask. "Could you Google ‘best conditions for sperm’"?

Walton is nonplussed. He begins his Google. We piece together a lot of vague hints, and decide that from now on I’ll be using a glass Pyrex container made in this century, and it will not be cooked in my blazing oven first. We’ll figure something else out. Also, Madeline thinks wearing a tampon after insemination is a bad idea.

"I lay around for a half hour first," I explain. ‘I just figured it would be better than wearing a pad, that way the all the sperm doesn’t just fall out of my body. Maybe this way some hardier sperm can swim off the tampon and up to Cervixville!’

But Madeline is against putting anything foreign in the Vagine when the somehow both fragile and hardy sperms are cavorting. And I always do what my sister says.

After the tea party Madeline and company retire to their hotel, Dashiell dashes home to walk Rodney and me and Rhonda run to the corner store to buy some pads before Quetin shows up. I select a box of Kotex panty-liners called "Chamomile Dreams" that is packaged to look EXACTLY like a box of herbal tea. The pads inside look like little tea bags, all lined up gently and wrapped in a piece of tissue. First tampons that look like party favors, now this! I like to know that people are really THINKING about how to best package feminine products, and I look forward to the industry’s next offering.

When Quetin arrives I explain that my sister has totally Tabitha-Takes-Over’d my insemination process. No more cute cherry-red and mustard yellow vintage bows; a good, square Pyrex container will be our vessel. And no more heating it in the oven. I flip over my laptop and place the Pyrex right where the computer battery radiates hotly. ‘This will keep it warm!" Am I a genius OR WHAT! Quentin looks concerned. While on my genius roll I realize that my kitchen door locks from the outside, so Quentin can stop barricading the door against cats with my kitchen chairs. We will simply lock him in the kitchen and promise to free him once he produces his sperm.

When Rhonda brings me the bowl we both marvel at the contents. Those vintage bowls had been white on the inside, and we went half blind trying to locate the sperm upon it. With the clear glass the sperm is all right there -- and so much of it!

After Rhonda injects me I have some private time and give myself an orgasm. I call for Quentin and Rhonda, but they don’t come. Laughter peals from my kitchen. I lie around and -- why not -- give myself another orgasm. A half hour later I stumble out into the kitchen, where my team sits, huddled around my computer, squealing.

"What are you guys watching?" I ask.

"It’s a video of Cyndi Lauper and Lil’ Kim singing Time After Time together, for Nelson Mandela’s birthday," Quentin explain. Laughter erupts. They’ve gone punchy.

"We were talking about Sandra Bernhard," Rhonda says, wiping tears from her eyes, "and Quentin called her ‘Sandy,’ how great is that?" They collapse into hysterics again.

I walk them to my door, and Rhonda tells Quentin she’ll drive him home. I hug them goodbye. ‘This whole insemination process is really bringing us all together," Rhonda beams happily. I close my door behind them and can hear them giggling madly as they exit my building.

NEXT WEEK: Dr. Evangelista Speaks!