"Hey Billy, do you wanna get laid?"
Do I ever! Only, in this case, the voice ringing to the back of my dental work is not one of muscular man-fever, but rather that of Lesa Kramer, Director of Development for Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando. Nor is it the kind of lay my loins typically long for after six glasses of inspiration, but that of the plastic, Hawaiian, obvious theme-party variety: a lei. Humph. "I guess so."
I've arrived just in time at Room 3-Nine for what promises to be an exciting evening of activism, even if there is no such thing as an exciting evening of activism. I'll make it exciting, I reason to myself, even if I have to fall down and die. Sometimes that's exciting.
Welcome to Kramer's monthly "Power-up Pro-choice" happy hour, where anything can happen
except, maybe, getting pregnant.
Now, admittedly, I've just spent the past hour at another bar (guess which one) making jokes about an abortion happy hour, drooling tasteless spit all over such wondrous epithets as "Will they be serving Bloody Marys?" and "I'll have an RU-486 with vodka, please!" These are the things we do to make things funny, and these are the things we do that don't work.
Regardless, I'm pretty sure my husband's dog, Francesca at home lying on her dirty pillows has just been knocked up by a rowdy Chihuahua, so we're both ready for a little bit of intervention information, and a little bit of liquor.
The irony is cheaper than the liquor, naturally, when one starts to quiz oneself about what two gay men are doing at a Planned Parenthood event, until one gets a phone call recommending that one could always donate one's "seed." Then one throws up. One hates gardening.
But I love Lesa, and she's assured me that this whole thing is "supposed to be fun!" Get me a Bloody Mary.
The pièce de résistance this evening is to involve something that Lesa refers to as a "robot baby," some mechanical baby impersonator that is the main force behind a middle- and high-school program called "Baby, Think It Over." So, it's kind of like the Brady Bunch take-home-an-egg, only updated with a millennial twist.
"Is it like Teddy Ruxpin, then?" I deadpan. "Except with a DVD player in its ass?"
Nobody laughs. Mostly because it isn't funny. The screaming monsters are designed to make students rue the idea of having children young (or at all), and are basically creepy monsters with microchips, weighing in at 6 pounds. They come in five different ethnicities. They keep a tally of all the parenting faults each poor Life Management victim commits, and make life hard. Which is all really creepy. Like first-sleepover creepy.
"They bring them back and say I don't want a baby anymore,'" offers Kesha, one of the volunteers.
And here's where I sidebar. There's a certain Mary Frances Emmons who occupies a lofty position at the Orlando Sentinel. Last weekend, in a fit of drunken Back Booth revelry, we may or may not have made out. Some odd local mediagate ensued; people were talking (mostly me) about two worlds colliding, and I had a four-day fight with my husband.
Mary Frances is here. As is my husband. And I'm like the sexually ambiguous character in one of those early-'90s threesome movies, making casual introductions and having Mary Frances whisper to me how cute he is. Fortunately, it's all gone funny now, with only a few stitches as a consequence, and we can make jokes. But should we?
"I didn't know you could get pregnant from kissing!" I hazard. "Gross!"
I say this because Emmons and I have been chosen as demonstration mom and dad to one of the terrifying tykes, and are about to undergo some kind of training; training that starts, appropriately, with yanking the baby's head back.
And we're off. Mary Frances grabs the baby first, naturally, as she used to be a nanny. She has a wineglass in one hand and a fake baby in the other. "I can even make a fake baby stop crying," she brags, although then she'll show me that she can pull the baby's thumb all the way back without it crying.
When the baby, or hot potato, comes to me cooing and gurgling, I accidentally forget to support its head (I have a hard enough time with my own), and it once again, rather selfishly, screams bloody hell.
Which would all be fine if we weren't being called up to the stage just then to show off, like we apparently like to. Mary Frances, again (but this time into a microphone), smugs that she used be a nanny, and that they used to call her the "baby whisperer."
Whatever. "I've never touched a child. I never wanted children," I gurgle and coo, all postpartum.
Slight laughter. Nothing to write home to your parents about.
A rowdy liberal rally follows, with some fairly informative speeches about in-school programs and the predictable problems with sex education, and I'm thinking, despite the fact that this is not my usual beat, it does involve both sex and liquor in the evening hours. It kind of passes.
Me, I fail, and cannot wait to have the baby's head unwound and turned back to its cabbage patch. I throw back a couple more splashes to wash my paternal side away, and wish I was back in high school faking all of this. All of this.
"Here are the divorce papers," I walk over to Mary Frances. "I never loved you."
We laugh, but don't make out, and I start to realize that this really was an exciting evening of activism, and I didn't even have to fall over and die. Although maybe I should have.