Full disclosure: I recently caught something. I thought talking to you here would be easier than having to make a bunch of phone calls, so here goes:
I have Gayby Fever. While it’s preferable to Bieber Fever, it’s unfortunately less cardio than Disco Fever and not as critically acclaimed as Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. Gayby: a baby hailing from gay parentage; a phenomenon becoming more commonplace every day. I was diagnosed when multiple people observed I couldn’t pass a pram or a playground or anywhere babies congregate without getting pangs in some phantom uterus I had suddenly developed.
“This doesn’t surprise me,” Mama Bravo said when I broke the news of my condition. “Before you were born I had baby fever in the worst way. If anything, you’re a little late – by the time I was your age I was already a mother.” Boys are usually slower to develop.
She continued, “Don’t you remember how much you loved playing baby when you were a little boy? When that misguided cousin gave you a G.I. Joe for Christmas you diapered it and pushed it around in your old stroller for a week.” Actually, it was a Cobra Commander action figure but within minutes I’d renamed him “Zachary.”
I caught the fever during the traditional gayby pandemic at Christmas. Something about the magic of childhood in the air and toy commercials saturating the airwaves makes December the most contagious month for gayby-related mania. I made the mistake of passing by the Opera House one night and was overwhelmed by the ever-growing numbers of same-sex couples bringing their immaculate children to see The Nutcracker. The little girls in velvet dresses with white lace collars, the little boys in miniature suits with bow ties – something in my heart melted, which as you know, is how the infection moves through the bloodstream.
“You have a lot to learn about children,” Mama Bravo sighed. “We took you to ONE children’s matinee and never again. The lights went down and that theater became Lord of the Flies. And good luck keeping them in those adorable suits and little velvet dresses. Your brother could be out of a bow tie in eight seconds and he could turn it into a lasso in about five.”
Point taken, but I’m not just talking about velvet dresses and bow ties. When the initial euphoric wave of the fever had passed I knew I wanted to be a parent because there are important traditions I want to pass down to my child. I want to share what Mama Bravo taught me, like how to tell period furniture from reproductions and to never accept injustice, and I also want them to know the rules about when to wear or not wear white shoes, and how to devastate the school bully with a witheringly clever remark. I will raise my gayby right.
“I think we’re the first gay generation that grew up knowing parenthood wasn’t out of our reach,” my friend Johnny pointed out. “Ellen came out when we weren’t even teenagers and after that possibilities starting opening up quickly. Remember the end of Dawson’s Creek when the gay guys adopted Michelle Williams’ baby? G.I. Joe and The Nutcracker may have been your realization moments but that was mine.” Johnny too was suffering from gayby fever; a lot of my friends have caught it recently. It’s nice to be able to use the terms “friends” and “caught it” in the same sentence without immediately following with the words “free clinic” and “antibiotics.” I guess we’re growing up.
“When you’re ready, I’ll be your surrogate,” a friend offered when she observed the temperature of my gayby fever skyrocket recently. Sitting outside a café with her I watched a couple with their three-year-old gayby holding hands between them and noticed they were all wearing matching Giants caps (but seriously, it’s NOT about the clothes). She’s not the only female friend that’s made me that offer. Is it weird to say I’m flattered by how many of my girlfriends have offered me their uteruses? What kind of a thank you note do you write for a favor like that? Would they be disappointed if, when the time comes, I decide to adopt? The foundation of a family isn’t made of DNA, sharing genetics has never been important to me. I told my friend I worried sometimes that I wouldn’t be a good father. I run the gamut from being spoiled to spectacularly disciplined. What if I couldn’t overcome those traits as a parent? “The fact that you’re worried is a good sign,” she reassured me. “I wouldn’t offer my genetic material to just anyone. When the time is right you’ll be ready.” Being more discriminating with who gets access to your genetic material – yet another sign we’re growing up.
Here’s another sign that I’m growing up: Even though I have an epic case of gayby fever I know this isn’t the time to act on it. I’m a freelance writer, my days are filled with invitations and deadlines: that’s not parenting friendly. My child deserves the best me possible and I’m working on it. I’m in no rush to get married either, and bringing up gayby is something I want to do with a partner. Even when I was diapering Cobra Commander I understood that parenting was a lot of work for one person. The more gayby fever spreads, the more options I have of finding a partner who wants to be the other father of my future children.
Recently, I stopped and gushed at a six-month-old in an antique store with his two dads. We got to talking and they let me hold their adorable gayby while they inspected a credenza. The little guy made happy, gurgling noises as I held him in the crook of my arm. My temperature began to rise.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Zach.” The dads replied in unison.
101, 102, 103, and rising. Paternal feelings surged like a rhapsody in my brain. I told the dads their little Zach was precious and handed him back to them where he belonged. I had to go.
The phantom uterus pangs were happening again.