Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RPG.NET rant #8 What Do You Mean You Lost My Wife's Kidney?

RPG.NET rant #8
What Do You Mean You Lost My Wife's Kidney?

originally posted to RPG.net on 10-04-2002 02:01 AM:


(I'm feeling sentimental so this week's tale is the story of my journey to Fatherhood.)

Again and again the doctors told my wife and I that there was little to no chance we would ever have children. It was a blow to the wife of course, she loved kids and it was blow to me as well. You see ever since I had been eighteen I had dreamt of fatherhood.

Me: "I had the weirdest dream last night."

Kid Snotrocket: "Was it the one about Phoebe Cates?"

Me: "No I dreamt I had a baby."

Kid Snotrocket: "You dreamt you were pregnant?"

Me: "No! I dreamt I had a little girl."

Kid Snotrocket: "Damn you got issues...."

Me: "Not like that! Jesus!"

Which was odd because fatherhood had always seemed to me to be something that happened to other people. By day if you asked me what I wanted I would have told you I wanted to be a writer-everything else was secondary.
But at night in my dreams it was a different matter. In my dreams I had a daughter, dark eyed, tawny haired and full of smiles. In my dreams a tiny hand held mine wherever I walked.
I would wake to find myself possessed of a kind of aimless melancholy, a feeling of something missing or something lost.
And then in 1999 I got a call from my wife.

Retail Napoleon: "Ab3 you're lazy and useless and you've got a phone call. Make it snappy!"

Me: "So what's it like to be able to fuck a Cheerio and not break it?"

Retail Napoleon: "You would do well not to taunt the awesome power of the Assistant Manager."

Me: "Assistant Manager? Isn't that the same thing as a cashier with keys to the store?"

Retail Napoleon: "Get your call and then get your toilet scrubbing gloves on smart guy!"

(pick up phone)

Me: "Hello?"

Missus Ab3: "I just got back from the doctor and guess what... Dad."

Me: "Dad?"

Maybe the doctors had all been wrong, maybe it was a miracle, maybe it was because we'd just visited Disney's Magic Kingdom- I don't know. All I do know is that despite the odds my wife was pregnant.
Things began to move very quickly once we found out. We had been living in Florida but we moved back to New York for reasons that were both familial and financial. The trip back was a nightmare. We had no time to pack, no time to truly say good-bye to our friends. My best memory is my last evening with my old gaming group is a raucous evening watching THEY CALL ME TRINITY and telling gaming stories.

Ticking Time Bomb: "Yeah that sure was embarrassing."

Babe Magnet: "But funny."

Me: "You know that would make a funny story. Other people should hear these."

Babe Magnet: "You couldn't tell those stories."

Me: "Sure I could. I could just change all the names."

Ticking Time Bomb: "It wouldn't be right."

Me: "Aw come on, I could just post them to some obscure BBS haunted by gamers, conspiracy theorists and sexual deviants."

Babe Magnet: "No. If you did that we'd have to track you down and kill you."

Ticking Time Bomb: "Kill you real, real slow."

Leases were settled and jobs were quit. Since we had believed we were going to be childless we had decided instead to get pets-lots of pets. We had 2 cats, an albino parakeet, 2 cockatiels and a sociopathic lovebird. Too many pets now that a baby was on the way so we decided to keep the cats but we tried to find good homes for all the birds. We placed the cockatiels and parakeet easily, they were sweet animals and I miss them. The lovebird was another matter.

Potential Bird Owner: "What a pretty little bird."

Me: "Yes her name is Bernice. If you take her we will throw in the cage."

Potential Bird Owner: "Let me see if she will perch on my finger."

Me: "I'm not sure we have time to - Look out!"


The long and short of it, we still have the damn bird.
Right before we left Florida we got an ultrasound or two and found out the baby was actually further along than was originally suspected. We also found out that I was going to have a daughter. I was at once stunned and ecstatic.
We rented a U-Haul truck packed away our worldly goods (8 boxes of clothes 40 boxes of rpgs and books) and we left Florida. The trip took a day and a half longer than it should have thanks to the U-Haul truck breaking down every 12 hours or so. Two of my old friends Chevy Cordova and The Wild One were there to help us make the trip. Three of us drove the Brunomobile, my wife drove U-Haul. By the time Albany was in sight we were all ready to kill each other.

Chevy Cordova: "Please sweet Jesus let those be the lights of Albany up ahead."

Me: "My turn to pick the CD!"

The Wild One: "Hey! The cat ate all the bottle rockets we got in South Carolina."

Chevy Cordova: "Ab3, please do not put another Tom Waits CD into that CD player."

Me: "Hey you're the one that made us listen to the Best of Lynard Skynard twice."

Chevy Cordova: "Lynard Skynard is classic rock, Tom Waits is just another way for you to reject the world."

The Wild One: "Hey where is the Pod Racer toy from my happy meal?"

Me: "We didn't get a happy meal. The girl at the drive through just got all screwed up because you had that weird special order."

The Wild One: "Look you get jelly with breakfast you should be able to get jelly with a Big Mac."

Chevy Cordova: "Besides the Pod Racer was buried in my fry box, it is rightfully mine."

Me: "OK you two knuckleheads I paid for that food, you ate and spilled it in my car. That Pod Racer belongs to me."

The Wild One: "It's mine!"

Me: "Mine! Gimmie!"

Chevy Cordova: "Covet not the Pod Racer oh balding one!"

The Wild One: "Hey maybe we should all calm down. We're tired and stressed and..."

Me: "If you're feeling froggy punk- try and jump!"

The Wild One: "Oh to Hell with this..."

(Slapfight ensues)

Makes you wonder why my wife chose to make the entire drive by herself in the U-Haul. Finally we made it back to Albany. The baby was five months away, we lived with my wife's parents while we searched for employment and apartments. The next month was a dizzying whirlwind of baby showers, job interviews and uncomfortable reunions. Imagine my surprise when I found out Deviant Boy and El Disgusto had gotten an apartment together...

Me: "Well I'm back. Hey you guys have a nice place."

Deviant Boy: "Yeah it's all I've got left since that bitch of a wife of mine took me to the cleaners."

Me: "I didn't know you got married."

Deviant Boy: "Well I'm not anymore."

Weasly Crusher: "Welcome back Ab3."

Cheating Bastard: "There's a face I never thought I would see again."

Me: "Good to see you guys."

Weasly Crusher: "How long has it been?"

Me: "Almost three years. What have you all been up to?"

Cheating Bastard: "Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior Ab3?"

Me: "Didn't you used to be a shoplifter?"

Cheating Bastard: "Yes I am a shoplifter but Jesus forgives me."

Me: "I'm so glad for you."

Weasly Crusher: "Check it out he stole us a copy of CANDYLAND. This game is so cool."

Biff Bam: "I find that CaHEndyland is a bit too Gamist for my preferences."

Weasly Crusher: "Are you insane? CANDYLAND is all about Narratavism! Who will get to go to Queen Frostine's iceberg with all of it's Freudian implications? And aren't the trials faced by a player in Molasses Swamp similar to the ones Luke Skywalker in that cave on Dagoba?"

Cheating Bastard: "Important questions one and all but more importantly have Ab3 accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Remember there is no saving throw against eternal damnation."

Me: "Did I mention I'm going to be a father? My wife is going to have a little girl."

Deviant Boy: "Babies! Just another evil plot by women to soak men for money!"

Weasly Crusher: "One of my characters had a baby once. I shudder at the memory."

Biff Bam: "Was it a Simumationist chiLPdbirth?"

Cheating Bastard: "And what about your child? Have you told your child about the loving grace of Jesus?"

Me: "Because she isn't born yet?"

Cheating Bastard: "That's not an excuse. If that baby doesn't accept the loving grace of Jesus Christ then she will be cast into Hell to burn in the cleansing fires of eternity."

Me: "You know I liked you better when you worshipped cs McCracken ."

Deviant Boy: "Hell? Don't talk to me about Hell- I was married to Satan!"

Me: "Heh- So where is El Disgusto?"

Weasly Crusher: "He's over there in the corner."

Me: "That's El Disgusto? I thought it was a life-size replica of Stephen Hawking."

Cheating Bastard: "He gets that a lot."

Me: "What's with the IVs and Foley bag? Is he sick?"

Deviant Boy: "No but after his parents and their dog died in that freak Bounce House accident he inherited tons of money."

Me: "Bounce House? What does this have to do with the shape he's in?"

Deviant Boy: "Once the checks cleared he got a huge PC, cable modem, and Everquest account and a nurse to change his bags and water him."

Weasly Crusher: "He's abandoned his real life in favor of his online one."

Biff Bam: "He's happier that wMay."

El Disgusto: "...everquest good..."

Weasly Crusher: "Another gamer lost to the Simumlationist gratification of Everquest."

Biff Bam: "I see Everquest as more of a strict Gamist environment."

El Disgusto: "...narativism immersive...."

Me: "Can't we talk about Jesus instead?"

Deviant Boy: "But enough about how one vindictive woman has ruined my life and credit. I hear you got yourself published!"

Me: "Yes I did. I have a series of zombie short stories appearing in the role playing game All Flesh Must Be Eaten."

Biff Bam: "I thought you said you got published?"

Me: "I did, in the role playing game-"

El Disgusto: "...gaming fiction does not count...does not count..."

Me: "Yes it does. It's in print."

Deviant Boy: "No one reads gaming fiction. The blow right past it- just like the dialogue in a porn film."

Weasly Crusher: "Porn films have dialogue?"

Biff Bam: "Everyone knowEs Gaming fiction blows. The first Torg novel was so bad it gave me hysIAterical blindness."

Deviant Boy: "I am very disappointed in you Ab3."

Cheating Bastard: "Well don't feel so bad at least you didn't sell your work to Eden Studios."

Biff Bam: "Yeah, if youIN did work for those creeps we would have to choice but to kiHEll you. Kill you realL slow."

El Disgusto: "...kill you real real slow..."

And they say you can't home again.
The missus and I found an apartment that was the best we could afford considering our pulverized finances. We ended up in a neighborhood where every night seemed to be a dress rehearsal for COPS. Our landlord was either the laziest, dumbest or evilest human being I had ever met but I stayed clear of him because he had the exact same name as one of my old D&D characters and I was frightened. I remember the day after we finished setting up the baby's room raw sewage had begun leaking from the ceiling. Apparently our landlord/maintenance man had wandered off in the middle of repairing a leaky toilet.
Regardless we got by, we made a crappy apartment into a nice one. Well actually my wife did all the decorating, my contributions were limited to things like this;

Missus Ab3: "Which paint do you like better? Beige or puce?"

Me: "Either or."

Missus Ab3: "Would you please help me decide here?"

Me: "Sweetheart, I really don't mind either way. You have better taste when it comes to colors."

Missus Ab3: "Honey I value your opinion, we have to make these decisions or what's the point?"

Me: "Oh all right. Hmmmm I think I prefer the beige."

Missus Ab3: "Oh no beige would never match the drapes at all. I think puce is better."

Me: "My work here is done."

My wife went into labor on the day she was to go to the hospital to have labor induced. A night of labor and four hours of pushing later we still had no baby. People were coming and going all the time. Dozens of people were looking at my wife's private parts- I was starting to understand how Tommy Lee Jones must have felt. The Doctors and the nurses started to look more and more concerned and I started to get more and more worried as the contractions continued and still no baby.
Finally they decided they were going to have to perform a cesarean section. Everything seemed to be happening way to fast and in slow motion at the same time. The wheeled her into the OR and had me wait outside with an odd-looking orderly. He was supposed to keep me distracted and calm while they prepped my wife, he ended up freaking me out more then he ever knew.

Orderly: "Just be sure to keep your cool when they send you in there your wife's going to need you to be calm for her."

Me: "OK... OK..."

Orderly: "I learned to keep calm in the navy, I served on a nuclear submarine."

Me: "What?"

Orderly: "Yeah we'd go under the water for months at a time. You'd be surprised how much stuff they have stowed away down there."

Me: "You're not a ninja are you?"

Finally they let me in the room, my wife was laid out on the table, a partition keeping me from seeing the work the doctors were doing on her. The air was rank with the scent of medicines and sterilizing alcohol but beneath that there was this sharp, fleshy odor I knew to be the scent of blood.
The anesthetics they had used on my wife left her quaking uncontrollably. I held her hand and told her how much I loved her and how brave she was. I looked up once only to notice that I could see my wife's insides reflected in the doctor's glasses.
Things began to take so long that my wife's anesthetics began to wear off. Finally I got fed up and got one of the attention of a nurse.

Me: "What the Hell is going on here? Why is this taking so long? She's having a baby not playing a game of Champions."

Nurse: "What?"

Me: "Er... what's going on?"

Nurse: "Well the baby has become lodged in the birth canal, the doctor can't seem to ease the baby out so we now have a nurse pushing from the other end trying to dislodge it."

Me: "So in the middle of surgery a nurse is fisting my wife."

Nurse: "In a manner of speaking."

Me: "Does my insurance cover this?"

A few minutes later another Doctor brushed past me carrying a glistening bundle of pink with a mop of dark hair. In the movies the baby flails and cries when it's born.
My daughter was doing neither.
And the doctors were still flitting about my wife; re-anestizing her calling in other doctors.
I watched them assault my daughter with tubes, IV's in her veins and a tube down her throat to clear out the Meconium that was choking her. That got my little once screaming.
The reality of what was happening made me dizzy. I felt like I wanted to laugh weep and throw up all at once. Many women had said they felt the same way after seeing me naked.
The urge to hold that little dream come true of mine was incredible but before I could do anything they placed her on a gurney and rolled her out of the room. My wife of course was getting frantic wanting to know why they wouldn't let her see her baby. I tried to calm her down but after another Doctor showed up I started to feel a little frantic. When I spoke to him I began to realize what was going on.

Me: "What do you mean you can't find my wife's kidney?"

Doctor: "It's not that we lost it, it may have gotten severed during the cesarean section, or perhaps it was merely shifted around during the delivery. Perhaps your wife is one of those rare people born with only one kidney."

Me: "Yeah she's one in a million. So what happens now?"

Doctor: "We are going to close up now and wheel your wife on down to get her a CAT scan, we should be able to get a better picture of what's going on and decide we can do from there."

Me: "I don't believe this."

Nurse: "While we take care of her why don't you go look in on your daughter."

Me: "Where is she?"

Nurse: "As a precaution she was taken to the prenatal intensive care ward."

Me: "Oh my God."

Nurse: "Don't worry, your insurance covers this."

It was odd but at this moment I was reminded of a joke I'd been telling for years. It was about a man who goes to the hospital to find out his baby has been born deformed. When they hand him the kid he sees that it's just a 2 foot long eyeball in a diaper.
The guy shrieks "My God what could be worse?"
And the Doctor says "He's blind."
When I entered the prenatal intensive care ward that joke lost a little of it's edge. I found my daughter in the corner, they were still working on her, she was bawling her head off. The nurses told me they couldn't believe how tall she was and that they were sure she was going to be all right once the observation period was over. I looked at her, got my first clear look at her then and- I still don't have the words to convey what I felt. Let's just say a lot of things that had once seemed pretty damn important to me stopped having any meaning whatsoever.
My wife's parents showed up a little while later and were as smitten as I was. None of us, family member or nurse could get her to stop caterwauling.
Until my wife showed up of course. They wheeled her in on a gurney, she was exhausted and tearful and I'm not sure but I think my little girl started to quiet down at the very sound of her voice.
Afterwards they rolled my wife to her room and put my child in a crib festooned with monitors. My In Laws walked me to my car.

Father In Law: "Well everything turned out all right."

Mother In Law: "Such a beautiful baby. You'll make a wonderful father."

Father In Law: "But I think one child is enough. This nearly kill your wife."

Me: "Well we hadn't made any plans one way or the other and this one was kind of a surprise-"

Mother In Law: "Look. You put my daughter through this again and we'll kill you."

Father In Law: "Kill you real real-"

Me: "I get the picture!"

I came home to a dark apartment and frantic cats. I fed the cats and noticed the lovebird eyeing me. I didn't even realize I was crying again until that moment.

Bernice: "PO-tweet?"

Me: "Hey there little bird. It's been quite a day hasn't it? Come on out. Perch on my finger like you used to."

Bernice: "PO-tweet?"

Me: "Yeah she had the baby and it was just like I imagined and nothing like I imagined. Shit I never even thought I'd get married. Now this is the first time my wife and I have been apart in years. I don't even know if I'll be able to sleep."

Bernice: "PO-tweet."

Me: "You know I forgot to ask if the found my wife's kidney. What more could go wrong today?"

Bernice: "PO-tweet."

Me: "Go on then. You know you want to."

Bernice: "PO-tweet!"

Me: "MY NIPPLE!!!!!!!!!"

(Back to the rpg stuff next week I promise!)

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