Michelle Tea: “You know why a man becomes a gynecologist?”

“He’s going to take this -- wand,” I warn her, “And put it up your hooch.” Dashiell makes a terrible face. “It’s like he’s playing a video game. He’s going to get it up there and clear a screen of Ms. Pac-Man.”

Sep 27, 2012 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

Before I call Nancy at the fertility clinic to make an appointment for Dashiell to see Dr. Waller, I ping Dashiell at work.  

"If I were going to make a doctor’s appointment for you, would you rather it be in the morning or at night? Not that I would make a doctor’s appointment for you. That would be WEIRD."

She pings back that mornings would be preferable, and I ring up Nancy and make a date for Dashiell and the doctor to rendezvous. I explain to our case manager our new plan –- I will carry Dashiell’s fine, young egg. Nancy begins routing our path into this scenario, and mentions that we’ll have to have a psych consult. A psych consult! I bristle against Nancy, who I sort of love in the way you can love someone with a pleasant voice who you’ve never seen, someone who is guiding you towards something you want very badly. In that way I love Nancy, and imagine her having a sort of dated, curly short hairdo, and glasses that hang on a chain. But the phrase psych consult transforms her into my enemy. 

Do all couples have to undergo pysch consults, or just queer ones? I’m so ready to be gaybashed in this process! I can’t tell if my vigilance is warranted or if I’m totally damaged and easily triggered or what. Nancy assures me that psych consults are required for all fertilized embryo transfers, which is what we’re doing. In their computer, I am the Patient and Dashiell is the Donor.

When I first started investigating the fertility clinic option, I had presumed that most of the people seeking out these services would be queer; lesbian couples, primarily. It’s been a shock to see how really heterosexual the system is –- so much so that the clinic’s computer system isn’t really set up to list me and Dashiell as a couple. It’s more like Dashiell is a young surrogate I’m buying an egg off so that me and my husband can have a kid. It’s creepy and annoying. Even though I’m seeing that lesbos aren’t the majority clients here, there still has had to be enough of them to make it worthwhile to accommodate them better. Right? Or enough of them getting annoyed that there’d be some complaining? But here I am, seething in silence. Because the whole thing is intimidating and a little emotionally exhausting, and it’s hard to get it up to start freedom fighting in the midst of it.

All week I’m staying at Dashiell’s while my friend from France stays at my apartment with her moody butch girlfriend and their baby. I end my workday at five, when Dashiell’s ends at the office, and I start cooking us dinner. I love cooking, but I only cook meals when I have another mouth to feed; left on my own I gnaw on a block of cheese all day like a rat. Today I make a giant salad with strawberries and fried prosciutto and make a giant show of presenting it to Dashiell when she walks in the door in her monkey suit, her buttoned-up shirt and crisp pants, her hair perfectly parted and her giant Tom Ford eyeglasses looking smart on her sharp face. We eat our dinner and then go sit in her beautiful backyard while the sun is still out.

Dashiell’s backyard has an orange tree that smells up the air, and vines of jasmine scrambling up the side of the wall, and a million succulents nested in chopped milk cartons, and a fenced-in garden growing tomatoes, and a freaky bottle-brush tree hung with bird feeders, and wild lilies and irises, and in the way back a chicken coop housing five fussy, fancy, feathered ladies. We sit on a wooden bench and take it all in. 

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Freaky Bottle Brush Tree

It’s almost July. In August, Dashiell and Rodney will move in with me. The cats will go to a brilliant seventeen-year-old queer writer I’m mentoring. I’m really taking in our final month in Dashiell’s miniature one bedroom, where we first had sex and first said I love you and first fell in love. A little basement apartment with glass doors that open up to this sprawling, unkempt nature.

I tell Dashiell I made an appointment for her to see Dr. Waller, and she is both excited and nervous. We make out there in the waning sunlight and, in between kisses, I try to prep her on what to expect.

“He’s going to take this -- wand,” I warn her, “And put it up your hooch.” Dashiell makes a terrible face. “He’s going to go like this with it,” I say, and mime like I am ransacking her inner space with a light saber. “It’s like he’s playing a video game. He’s going to get it up there and clear a screen of Ms. Pac-Man.” 

And so begins one of my favorite of Dashiell’s rants: the rant against the male gynecologist.

I say this as if Dashiell has many rants to choose a favorite from, and nothing could be further from the truth. Dashiell is by no means a ranter. He’ll express an opinion, often passionately, but there is always a calm, and the expression does not linger. 

However, get him started on the innate perversity of the male gynecologist and he starts thumping his fist and gets all red-faced like a Fox News Commentator.

“You know why a man becomes a gynecologist?” Dashiell demanded there in the garden. “Pussy. That’s it. That’s the only reason. He wants to peep at pussy all day.”

Not only does Dashiell not rant, he rarely uses such obscene language, which is why getting him going about male gynecologists is such a delight. It’s very unlike him, a whole new side I get to sample. I crack up laughing. 

“Dashiell!” I say. “You can’t say that!

“You’re crazy,” She dismisses me. “Why else? You don’t think a male gynecologist likes to look at pussy? He’s a man. Maybe -– “ She relents, “Maybe if they deliver babies too, okay, they like delivering babies. But just a gynecologist? They’re in it for the pussy.”

“Do you want to see a female doctor?” I ask her. “I don’t mind making a new appointment.”

“But you already have seen Dr. Waller,” Dashiell says.

“Yeah. And I like him. He’s sort of dry and there is something quirky about him. I think he has a good sense of humor. And,” I add, “Dr. Wendy told me he’s the best.”

“We want the best,” Dashiell nods. 

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Nothing But The Best

“Of course we do.”

“All right, all right,” She relents, smiling. We make out again. She pulls back and looks at me with her otherworldly eyes, all gray-blue and tilted like en elf’s. “Do you want to have my baby?” She asks me softly and a rush jolts through my whole body. I love when all this fertility stress gets suddenly hot! We go back into the house and get it on. 

At Tali’s office getting some work done together I get a phone call from Juanita, who is supposed to lead me through the terrifying financial terrain. Dashiell’s first visit will be $300, just like mine was. She throws some other numbers at me, but there are a lot of unknowns. Money for meds, for egg retrieval, for fertilization, implantation, for the sperm, for the tests and the lab work. Money if we need to try again.

“Why don’t you and Dashiell give me $20,000,” Tali quips, “And I’ll have your baby for you.” It’s not even funny, because about a year and a half ago, after falling in love with a baby we all briefly held at a Christmas party, me, Tali and her girlfriend Bernadine all got revved up about having a group baby.

At the time we were a pretty tight and co-dependent trio. Not dating anyone, I spent most nights at Tali and Bernadine’s, gossiping and eating popcorn. It seemed I’d never really find anyone worthwhile to partner up with, no one I’d be closer than my two best friends. Me and Bernadine were a bit more into it than Tali, who is a bit of a naysayer, but when we picked tarot cards to see who would carry the baby it said Tali, loud and clear.

Tali was horrified, then intrigued. She started asking around the punk rock food co-op where she worked to see if any of the dudes would be interested in donating sperm. A band of guys rushed forward and all began competing for the honor of impregnating Tali, their butch bro who they went on long-distance motorcycle rides with. Tali, a Leo, was delighted. Suddenly she was so into having a baby! For about five minutes. Then she got mad at me and Bernadine for being too lighthearted about it. 

“You guys are acting like it’s a joke!” She accused us. “It’s a baby -– it’s not a joke!”

“I don’t think it’s a joke, “ I defended myself. “I’m just a lighthearted person. I’m excited. If I thought it was a big, intense, scary thing I wouldn’t be doing it.”

I generally approach things like it’s a party, and Tali can sometimes approach things like it’s a funeral. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Tali refused to have me and Bernadine’s baby, but said we could continue if we wanted.

“Right,” I said. “Like, we’re just going to have a baby right here under your nose, and it’s going to live in your apartment, and you’re going to have nothing to do with it.”

“I can’t control your choices, and can only control my own,” Said Tali, playing the Al-Anon card. 

So we didn’t have a baby, even though at the time it seemed like three people having a baby would really be the BEST way to raise a kid ever.

“You lost your chance,” I tell Tali, who is still trying to wrangle our test tube baby money out of us. Money we don’t even know if we have.

“How come Dashiell won’t have it?” Tali asks. 

“It’s just not right. She can’t. She can’t do it.” Tali nods. A genderqueer person herself, she gets it. 

“Plus,” I say, “I want to have the baby.” My desire to do all these domestic, traditional woman-y things is so powerful, and so weird, that owning it gives me a terrific rush. I want to make dinner for Dashiell when she comes home looking hot in her button-up office clothes, I want to blow her away with my amazing cooking and have the house all nice and straightened up for her and I want to have her BABY! Yes! Feminism, for me, has always been the right as a female to do whatever the fuck I want in this world, so these new and tremendous desires don’t actually trouble me very much. Rather, I feel super inspired to be some sort of strange queer housewife. And mother!