Neelakantan‘s egged me on a bit, not that I needed the ‘arm twisting’, to continue pondering 40 – rapidly rushing up to me as I countdown the days to my birthday on Friday. Woo hoo! Regardless of age, I have always liked birthdays, especially mine, and I love looking forward to them, savoring the day itself and then looking back at it. It’s like an annual day just for me.
Continuing the irony of not having enjoyed the onrush of my 38th and 39th birthday, I’m pleased to note the guilty pleasure of counting the days and singing inside "It’s my birthday, it’s my birthday" is back in full force. Of course, contemplating Paris, doesn’t hurt, does it? 🙂 Full confession: I’m only going to Paris so that I can answer the question "So, what did you do for your birthday?" with "Oh, I went to Paris for the week" HEE!
Steve Portigal put up this cover of the New York Times magazine today, and it provides me with a topical yet appropriate rant – one I probably would not have blogged, were I not ‘contemplating 40’. Intrigued, I went looking for the source. The title of the story is "Looking for Mr. GoodSperm" and yes, Steve, that has to be NYT’s worst cover story evah. I quote, from the original article, (while I choke back my disbelief) this particularly entertaining sentence,
Buying sperm over the Internet, on the other hand, is not much different from buying shoes.
Every decent and rational feeling in me (am I getting old? *smirk*) wanted to respond on reading these words with a chilling "Quite." accompanied by the look Queen Victoria must have used when she was not amused.
The lovely thing about 40 is that you don’t care anymore what people think of you when you spout your opinions. And my opinion, no disclaimers even!, is that this entire concept is silly. I believe it’s perpetuated and generated by the media and the media alone. Yes, there are single mothers – through divorce, relationships breaking up, widowhood, or choosing to keep an unexpected pregnancy. And perhaps this is the Asian side of me, who knows, but this push towards "have a baby quickly before your eggs die out" is to me, an artificial construct. As artificial as the infamous "a woman over 35 has greater chances of being killed by a terrorist than finding a husband" scare of the late eighties. Har! had they been born Indian, every family member would have had a "Suitable Boy" to suggest. To wit,
Newsweek Magazine’s cover story for June 2, 1986 demoralized single women throughout the nation. The article claimed that if you are 30 years old, college-educated, and never been married, that you only have a 20% chance of ever finding a husband. If you reach age 35 without a spouse, your chances drop to 5%. And if you have the misfortune of being single at 40, according to Newsweek you have a greater chance of "being killed by terrorists" than finding a husband.
As I struggle with the temptation to end this post with a smart ass response, I shall endeavour to continue with some semblance of grave sobriety – all of these things are media generated hype. I speak with conviction – my best friend in Chicago works for Hearst Magazines, publishers of Cosmopolitan. I would get her sample copies regularly, particularly when I first arrived in Chicago, when I was 35 going on 36 – the ‘peak’ years for such promotions. Luckily for me, I have a skeptical nature and a sense of my own judgement – else reading these magazines and others during this time would have dissolved me into a quivering puddle, trembling with fear for my rapidly decaying eggs and racked with longing to fulfill my ‘maternal destiny’ – do keep in mind, my tongue is firmly in my cheek right now and these are the few words you’ll meet on my blog that I will not stand behind 😛 Besides, when overcome by any hint of a maternal urge, I usually go lie down in a darkened room until the feeling passes.
My point is that all of this is a business – call it the medico-fertile industry – for millenia, women have either had children or they have had not. But never like this, when <insert snotty voice here> "buying sperm over the internet is as easy as buying shoes".
When that child grows up, and goes "Mommy, who was my daddy?" what is she going to say… "Oh honey, I was browsing for just the right pair of Jimmy Choo’s when I got distracted by the flashing ad at the corner of Cosmo pointing me to a sperm bank."