My Year As A Believer, Part 4: Part 3, Part 2 (Part 1)

From an early age I’d accepted that I would never have children. One of my first memories is of the kindly family doctor who explained how my chromosomes weren’t like more than 50% of people’s.

“This doesn’t make you less than the other kids,” she said. “It just makes you a boy.”

I still have the book she loaned me that day, You Can Probably Do It!, its richly-illustrated, well-thumbed pages chronicling the lives of great men who overcame their identity as a sexual minority and went on to achieve practically as much as a normal person.

The children’s classic has been a wellspring of consolation all my life, but no matter how old I grew I couldn’t seem to open it without the bitter realization that I’d never pass it on to a child from my own body. You see, for all their accomplishments, one thing conspicuously eluded all the book’s heroes, from Charles Martel to Miles Dyson: they’d never created a life, never felt it grow inside them.

Sometime in 2015, my wife half-jokingly suggested surrogacy. We dismissed the idea at first, daunted by the challenge of finding a willing and suitable vessel. But after a couple of weeks of incubation we ideated a crazy twist: what if my wife volunteered?

Cohabitation would certainly take care of the logistics of custody sharing. (I’ve always believed a child’s biological mother should play a part in its life, yet I didn’t fancy having to drop Junior off in a whole nother suburb whenever it was time for a diaper change.)

By sheer, dumb luck we were friends with a couple who’d used an intra-marital surrogacy arrangement, twice, with some success. They told us to ignore the naysayers and go for it. We’ll never be able to repay them for giving us that push.

To men who might be contemplating this reproductive strategy, I can’t recommend it too highly. The procedure itself—there are various and ancient names for it, but your doctor may have mentioned something called in tubulo fertilization—turns out to be much simpler than the Latin makes it sound, and virtually painless to boot.

To be sure, impregnating your wife probably isn’t how you’d spend your prime TV-viewing time if you could help it. The mechanics aren’t exactly dignified. On the other hand, the whole thing takes all of three minutes—less, once you know what you’re doing. Even a complete virgin like me, figuratively speaking—who’d never inseminated anyone, let alone a fellow quote-unquote ’virgin,’ in my life—managed to get in and out of there during the ads between Frasier and Maisel.

It’s not rocket science.

It’s not even cli… well, you know the joke.

Then it’s just a matter of going about your life for a year or so while you wait for your miracle ITF baby. As the delivery date approaches, you may even want to treat yourself to a holiday to avoid the more unseemly, obstetric end of proceedings. This isn’t the most fashionable thing to admit but I’ve always thought they were onto something, morally speaking, in the 19th century. They had a certain decorum, a sense of propriety that I think we’ve outgrown to our detriment. Did you know the English monarch used to get out of the capital city entirely for the parturition of a new Prince or Princess? Queen Victoria’s retreat of choice was Balmoral Castle, where she waited for a telegram bearing the blessed news from London: Your Majesty has a bouncing baby son or daughter.

Only in my case it was a text from Australia, and it didn’t dictate little Hunter’s gender (something we’d agreed to let zer or ze choose for zim- or zyself on zeir 18th birthday).

Reproduction isn’t for the financially faint of heart—it’s the definition of a long-term-long-shot investment. At the best of times, back when the sun didn’t set on the Dickensian Raj, you might have to wait ten or eleven years before your child started turning a profit. These days you’re lucky if they’ve paid for themselves by the time they’re 30.

I’ve already alluded to the money problems caused by my Klimakleptomanie, as Jung called it. But I’m afraid that was just the tip of an iceberg of impecunity. Unsurprisingly, Heartland and the George Marshall Institute wanted nothing to do with me after my Great Divorce from disbelief. The loss of those stipends devolved upon us the painful duty of moving out of Vaucluse and cutting the staff loose. I’m sure you know how a butler has a way of becoming part of the family, surname notwithstanding, so you can imagine how hard it was to let him go without so much as a mandatory severance package.

(Hunter, who’d imprinted on _______s like a gosling, was adorably heartbroken by his departure and subsequent lawsuit. On the plus side, the whole middle-name dilemma pretty much solved itself: world, meet Hunter Ryan Keyes.)

I needed to work.

The George Marshall Institution—no relation to my previous paymaster—was kind enough to toss me a few shifts a week as a psychiatric nurse, but the danger pay didn’t really do justice to a night on a ward of under-sedated Nefarious Intenters, Something Must Be Wrongers and other conspiratorial [sic] ideators.

In the pre-dawn hours of a morning like any other, the duress claxon of a colleague went off. When I eventually made it to the scene I had to peel a denialist inmate away from the remainder of a nurse he was orally brutalizing. I sometimes wish I’d responded sooner. But in my defence, a face-being-eaten alarm in an asylum is a bit like a car alarm in Redfern—one quickly learns to ignore it unless and until the 3- or 4-minute mark. Deep in shock, Sister Marisol kept lisping that she’d forgotten to double-check a handcuff while inoculating the patient. And they’re notoriously resentful of such procedures, which is understandable: having strawman arguments incanted at you in a ritualistic, pop-psych attempt to build “immunity” to denialism can be rather insulting. Still, I think we can all agree there’s such a thing as a proportionate response.

“I only took my eye off him for a second,” I assume the poor young Filipina was trying to sputter—but I urged her to save her breath because she looked like a late-’40s Francis Bacon. (It would ultimately take a year of reconstructive surgery to make her look like a late-’30s Picasso—a small triumph of technology and human indomitability, but a triumph all the same.) That’s when I noticed the most blood-freezing detail of the whole incident: according to the bleep-bloop machine, the skeptic’s pulse had never got above eighty-five, even when he was eating her teeth.

Screw this, I thought. I didn’t even lock the door behind me. Call me vain but I’m rather attached to my lower jaw, thanks.

Everyone knows jobs are for bums anyway. What I needed was a gig.

I needed to write.

To be continued when Part 1 continues in Part 2: Part 5.


  1. What would you suggest I use, Hans: adder eggs? Fishbowls? Bowling pins?

    Daggers? Oh, you’d like that, I bet.

    Hyenas, the lot of you.

    So it’s a bit confusing for you as a reader. Boo hoo. It’s not exactly a model of lucidity in my brain at the moment, let me tell you.

    You think it’s easy delivering a six-part trilogy on schedule? You non-artists wouldn’t even begin to understand the delirious acalculia that is our one constant (imaginary) companion.

    So sue me. Take me to court. The joke’s on you. Our hovel wouldn’t even cover your legal expenses. What are you going to do next, compel us to sell the car?

    Where will we sleep, Hans? Did you even think stop to think about little Hunter, who’s never done a thing to you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did what I normally do when I’m part way into a TV series and cannot recall what might be essential elements of the plot – I consult my good friend Wiki for a synopsis.
    Wiki’ s never heard of you. Nobody with the Brad Keyes moniker* Are you worth continuing with? Cut to the chase – do you survive?

    *There is a Brad Keselowski, which gave me a little frisson (and might give you one).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. After my recent (unwitting and unintentional) outburst of Polophobia I suppose melokarma demands that I be body-swapped, in a frisson of Friday freakiness, with one Mr Keselowski. At least for the day. Or until I learn my lesson about the casual racism that is alive and well even in 2018, whichever comes last.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hans,

    I’m sorry for coming across as rude. I was only having fun with you, i.e. kidding.

    Although you write English perfectly, I notice from your Klimaathype blog that you’re Dutch—which would probably explain why it wasn’t obvious to you that I was joking. My sense of humor is unconventional and can be confusing to people from non-Anglophone cultures (especially Russian, Japanese and American readers, for some reason).

    So I hope you will keep commenting at CliScep; I always enjoy your input.

    Yours sincerely,


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh rest assured I’ll continue to comment on climate related matters, In the future I shall skip your incomprehensible “eloquence”, that reminds me of the ramblings of Eschenbach on WUWT.


  6. Brad, Hans
    Oh the infernal and eternal symmetry of life; sometimes it overwhelms one, symmetrically speaking.
    snaH, darB

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Let’s resist the urge to pile on.

    Erren ist menschlich (errare humanum est). Hans that heal, etc. etc.

    BTW Alan, I’m trying to send you an important email but the address I have keeps bouncing. Would you please do me a favor and email me?


  8. I’m not surprised at your ineffectiveness Brad. Since UEA failed in its duty to award me denier emeritus status (and its library stopped purchasing physical copies of journals – which makes physical visits pointless) I severed all contacts. This means my former e-mail is as a Norwegian Blue and rather than a bouncy object, it is as a black hole.
    How do I contact you Brad? Our former correspondence, including your contact details, resides in the interior of the above mentioned black hole.
    Who’d have thought the mighty british plod once contemplated my good self as the Climategate hacker. My skills a la computer are non-existant.


  9. Hunter,

    My wife learned to drive in a Bus, and she has a coloring postcard book with a 60’s van she is working on.

    Google thought I should watch this video after having watched the Who go on their trip.

    “McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War”

    His faith in technology to solve issues/problems was proven to be a bit off…..

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hans,

    in our defense, people who write “Bye.” are not always leaving the conversation.

    Sometimes, having written “Bye.”, they pop back up again and make a fresh complaint.

    I can’t think of an example off the top of my head, but you know the type.

    Anyway nobody was stabbing any aspect of you—dorsal or ventral.

    Nobody (certainly not me) has anything against you, so why would we?

    You might want to open your mind to the possibility that the human cheek can accommodate the human tongue.


  11. Brad you are certainly not first to make “pun” of my last name. Pkease don’t lower yourself to personal attacks and don’t drag others in our dispute by using ‘we’.
    When you are in a hole, stop digging.
    And no, I don’t expect a response from you.


  12. Hans. What hole is Brad in? He offered a fulsome apology, but your response was not gracious (and Brad’s initial tirade was unnecessarily). As we say in the good old UK, it’s a storm in a teacup. If by chance you took offence at my pointing out the symmetry of the proceedings, then I also apologize for inadvertently doing so.
    Can we fill any remaining holes and smooth the waters? It’s all so unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ” And no, I don’t expect a response from you.”

    Then you don’t know me very well, do you? *saddened*

    “Brad you are certainly not first to make “pun” of my last name.”

    So you liked the pun I made on your first name then, I take it? Why? It wasn’t even good.

    “Pkease don’t lower yourself to personal attacks”

    I wasn’t planning on it, but it never hurts to get a reminder, so thanks.

    “and don’t drag others in our dispute by using ‘we’.”

    And don’t drag me into your dispute by using ‘our.’ You might have something against me but I assure you the feeling isn’t mutual!

    As I think I’ve mentioned, I like you just fine. It’s unclear why you’re still fighting me.

    ” When you are in a hole, stop digging.”

    Actually this advice, while superficially sensible, turns out to be an urban myth—as I know from bitter experience.

    My first summer job was at the local cemetery. It was hard work (I’m glad I’ve traded in the shovel for the keyboard, let me tell you), but it was honest work. Unfortunately I got fired after a week because my boss said I was a lazy quitter. I kept trying to explain to him why I was only digging shallow graves but he wasn’t having any of it.

    Anyway what were we arguing about?

    Can’t we shake, Hans, and move on like good sports?


  14. Thanks Alan.

    “Brad’s initial tirade was unnecessarily [sic]”

    Well, jokes generally are. But they’re fun. At least for the joker, and preferably for the jokee too.


  15. Hans,

    out of curiosity, what other “puns” can be made out of the name Erren? It doesn’t even mean anything in German (my faux-German joke notwithstanding), AFAIK. Does it mean something in Dutch? Does it mean Ireland in Irish? Help a guy out!


  16. It occurred to me after I had sent my 8.29am post that I had fallen into a hole devised by Hans and Brad – that they had conspired together to present to us a faux argument made from nothing to see who they might draw into their lair. This is a believable scenario for Brad, but Hans?…..


  17. Hans was obviously having a meta-meta-meta-laugh at our expense by pretending not to know I was joking when I pretended not to know he was joking when he pretended not to know I was joking.

    You just figured it out now?



  18. The fundamental problem with Brad is that it is impossible to distinguish his jokes from harassment and his fantasy from truth. A true case of Poe’s law.

    That’s why I skip his – eloquent- writings. (No I did not read his last replies)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hans,

    thank you for lifting the tone of the conversation—that’s an edifying comment.

    For what it’s worth I stopped being sarcastic to you as soon as I realized that you found it impossible to distinguish my jokes from harassment and my fantasy from truth.*

    (To the extent that I’m able to stop being sarcastic, I mean.)

    Because I’m a considerate guy and it gives me no lulz to vex people whose only fault is to be raised in a different culture.

    If you were a bit SLOW, I’d have kept tormenting you until you finally caught on.

    But you’re not. You’re simply from a non-English-speaking background, so playing word-tricks on you would be pointlessly rude.

    And I’m a considerate guy.

    * Ironically, if you were a wish-fulfilling genie and you asked me what my #1 fantasy was, I’d say my fantasy is truth.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.