Glenn Shaheen

My girlfriend and I are looking to have a child. Another lesbian couple we know who recently got pregnant tells us of the sperm bank they went to. They were, they assure us, given the sperm of a scientist who also is a competitive ballroom dancer. We act giddy about how wonderful that all is. When we get home, we tell each other that it is totally ridiculous. First, who is a scientist and a competitive ballroom dancer? Second, even if there is some guy who is both of those things, what is he doing selling sperm for $50 a cup down at the clinic? When we go to the sperm bank they tell us it is, insurance pending, $1000 for a scientist. We say we’re looking for something in the $100 to $200 range. They say we can get a bricklayer, plumber, or unemployed schoolteacher. We think we at least admire the honesty of those people. We decide to ask a friend of ours for help. He initially seems willing until we tell him what we need from him. Then, he gets nervous. He is lonely. He says his parents are growing distant. He is not a scientist, but minored in astronomy. He is not a competitive ballroom dancer, but knows the robot better than anyone we know. When the baby is born we lose contact with our friend. It’s the kind of thing that happens eventually. When we are in our sixties a mutual friend tells us his body was found in his apartment. We go to the funeral. Our son is now in med school. The mechanics of it all were crushing. We wrote a beautiful letter of sincerest thanks and never mailed it.







I heard about these fancy sperm banks where donors would have all these ridiculous qualifications, like "scientist," "ballroom dancer," "Mensa member," etc. It just seemed a bit far fetched to me, and also a bit like eugenics to think that the offspring would match one parent in so-called quality. Isn't it our flawed nature part of our ineffable charm (I hope)?