Volume 91, Issue 84

Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Summer lovin'


Baby Blue

By Lee Zanello

It seemed to take forever; a watched pot never boils after all. A watched pregnancy test never turns colour as well, it seemed. I'll spoil all forms of suspense right now and tell you it turned out blue, which, if you are virgin to the ways of the pregnancy test, means she wasn't pregnant – as far as this brand was concerned anyway. I think of the box now and how many times I read it before she was ready to try it. Quick-Test was the brand name, and when I think of the minutes I spent waiting for the results I find the name somewhat ironic. A happy couple graced the front of the box, the results of their test hidden by the box sitting on the table next to them, giving the impression that happiness should come from whatever result is obtained. That was not so much the case with us.

A baby now? I mean, we had been seeing each other for four months. I had told her I loved her, and she me, but we were by no means ready to commit to the raising and caring of a child. She had yet to fart in front of me for crying out loud, how would we manage the communication necessary for raising a child? I think, even though we had promised not to talk about it, not to deal with it unless we were sure she was pregnant, I think neither of us wanted it, the responsibility.

She had been late and she had never been late before, and we had used protection. I have never had sex without a condom and, though curious as to what it might feel like, it wasn't worth the risk to me. Neither of us were the other's first partners, so we made sure to be careful each time. The statistics tell you that condoms are only between 95 and 99 per cent effective, depending on which book you read, and you have no idea how lonely you feel when you think you're in that one per cent.

She had gone into the bathroom at 8:40 p.m., it was just starting to get dark outside, and at first I didn't know what to do. I stood by the door and talked through it, asking her if she was okay every 10 seconds or so. Finally she started sobbing and told me to leave her alone. That was the last thing I wanted to do, I wanted to be there for her, but if that was what she wanted then I had to comply. I went into the living room and sat down on the sofa I had found for $15 at a garage sale the summer before. I laughed for a minute at bargaining with the old lady who wanted to sell it for $30, but if I had paid that price I wouldn't have been able to afford the 12 for my friend and I to drink after moving me in. I don't know why I was thinking about the couch, probably my drowning mind looking for anything to grasp on to, trying to deal with the situation that it currently faced. I thought once again about the happy couple on the box and wondered if their tube was blue or not.

I turned on the television and flipped through a dozen or so channels before coming to rest on Rogers Cable 10. I never usually watch the channel, but the ads that flashed on and off the screen were enticing enough to pause my flipper thumb for a second. It was community announcements hour on Rogers, I'm sure you've all seen it, where they tell you what's happening at your local library at what time and for how much, or who was marrying who in the neighbourhood. I watched it until she came out of the bathroom about 10 minutes later, the whole idea of focusing on other people's lives instead of my own too powerful to give up. When she walked into the room I switched it off and held her as she came and sat next to me. She put the box down on the table and set up the apparatus. Then she looked at me.

She had been crying, her eyes were droopy at the sides and red where she had rubbed them with the towel in the bathroom, the one that had missed the load of laundry with the last bit of Downy and was rough to the touch. I had nothing to say and she knew it. We hugged – you know when you're about to leave a hug and it gets a little tighter right at the end? That's what our whole hug was like. I asked her if she wanted me to pour it and to my surprise she said yes. She said she was glad I was here and that she loved me. I told her I loved her too and that I would still be right there no matter what the outcome was. I reached over and picked up one tube and she grabbed my arm, took a deep breath, then let go. She was ready, she told me, and I poured.

It hurt when her nails dug into my hand but I didn't tell her that. It hurt a lot, it was making me wince in pain. She hadn't cut her nails in a long time and, beautiful though they were, they were like knives piercing into my skin. A whole hand of Ginsu 2000's trying desperately to find the bone – that was my Freddy Krueger girlfriend. And just when I couldn't take it any more she let go and I looked away from my bleeding hand and at the tube and saw a little swirl of blue. I looked at her and saw her reach for the box. We both knew what the blue meant, but she had to be sure. She read the box and put it back down, in front of the test so we didn't have to see it anymore. She looked at me and smiled, a big smile and I smiled back and for a second I pictured us as the couple on the front of the box.

I didn't say anything as she threw the test away, and I drove her home with just as much conversation. We kissed good night and she thanked me and told me I was wonderful, and I told her that we had just been through something major together and I felt it had only brought us closer. I watched as she went up the stairs, fumbled with her keys and stepped through the door. She waved to me and I backed out of her driveway, faster than I normally do.

On the drive home I listened to the radio and Tom Petty came on singing 'You Got Lucky" and I sang so loud that my throat hurt the next day.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998