As a childless adult, the biological imperative to reproduce occasionally grabs a bullhorn and shouts into my ears. There is no rational component of the longing, and as I am of an age when it is both unlikely that I would be able to carry a child, and unrealistic for my husband and I to start raising one, I am content to sit back quietly until the hormones settle down and cease their annoying antics.
Today after running several errands I dropped by a Subway sandwich shop to grab something quick and marginally healthy for dinner, as my husband and I were planning to stay at home to watch movies. And ahead of me in line was a woman, not much younger than I, with her son.
It was clear that the pair had been in the shop for some time. The child, who appeared to be about 10 years old, had laid his head on the counter in frustration as his mother hollered at him about whether he wanted bacon on his sandwich, then turned to bellow questions toward the young countergirl about the price of the sandwich. When the girl pointed out that bacon was 50 cents extra, the customer became irate and in rapid-fire language listed numerous alternatives – which soon seemed to cause the Subway employee some great confusion.
I almost left the shop, but for concern that the child’s mother might launch herself across the counter onto the countergirl, like a great white fighting rooster taking down a downy chick. All of a sudden I realized that my fear of watching The Exorcist was unreasonable; the reality of overwrought suburban moms is far, far scarier.
Later, I took comfort in my childlessness, as there but for the absence of God go I.