Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Foie Gras

Hovering around the computer, we improvise a spontaneous symphony of baritone groans, soprano whines and the distinct rumblings of a booming bass. Our lips curl and twitch behind this cacophony, and the beer in our bellies bubbles and curdles with our dinners, threatening to make a regurgitated reappearance. Showing the video is Amy's idea. A graduate student of Fisheries and Wildlife, she wants the rest of us (Mark, Scott and I) to have trouble sleeping tonight too, she says as the images burn our brains like horseshoes. Through a scientist's focused, unflinching camera lens, we witness a flock of male ducks surround and rape one black female duck. The footage is from the seminar she took this afternoon: The Sex Lives of Ducks and Waterfowl.

Not only are male ducks rapists, we learn, but they are also known to have -proportionally- the longest penises of all creatures. Whales do not compare, neither do horses, Amy tells us when we ask. And to prove this particular fact, she clicks a second video, filling the screen now with footage of a duck having intercourse with a glass female duck on a metal laboratory table. The purpose of this is to document the male duck's full erectile potential, she says as we watch gloved hands hold the male atop the glass female. Like a swirly straw of sperm, the duck's penis shoots out of his body and into the narrow, glass vaginal canal. Male ducks, Amy explains, use their long penises to gang rape the female ducks (as we witnessed from the first video). The males surround one and trap, rape and sometimes even drown her (if they catch her in the water).

The most fascinating duck fact of all, I think, is that their violent sexual history has caused the anatomy of female ducks to adapt their bodies to reject all unwanted duck penises. Only when a female chooses her mate by assisting his penis in can true duck intercourse occur. She can help, Amy explains. Otherwise, a duck vagina is entirely the wrong shape and without her nudging and expanding, a male duck forcing procreation is like pushing a square block into a circle hole. It just doesn't fit.

Laying in bed at night, while the ducks waddle through my mind, I cannot help but think. What if the bodies of women in certain parts of the world, where violence and rape is commonplace, adapted as the female ducks have adapted? What if their bodies could close up shop to sexual thieves and predators?

It is truly frightening to think how these men, bred into barbarians by their violent societies and its forefathers would react to this change. What these men, with their opposable thumbs and evolved intelligences, would do then.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Light Light!

I am invited by my friend and her wife to discuss the possibility of my becoming their new part time nanny. At their house, I explain my experience and show how well I can carry conversations with their three young children. Hey guess what? The six-year-old son asks. What? I comply with a smile and the boy answers by pointing to his missing top teeth. Over the summer, the boy snuck away from the dance floor of a wedding the family was attending on a golf course. He was gone only a moment, but in that moment this courageous, curious boy found a golf cart and accidentally drove it over a five foot cliff. It was an extremely traumatic time for the family. Hey guess what? He asks next. What? ... I'm in kindergarten. He says. Cool!

Not in a hurry to be anywhere on this particular Saturday night, I accept their invitation to stay for supper. There's plenty of food, they say as my friend moves throughout the kitchen smashing boiled squash, de-tinfoiling a golden brown chicken, and sliding potato wedges from a baking pan into a serving bowl. I lean against the other side of the counter, chit chattering about my experience with children growing up in a large family and babysitting neighbors sporadically throughout high school. I talk about my willingness to wake up early every morning and how I enjoy entertaining kids with tiresome play, games and story times.

During dinner, one of the twins, a two-year-old yellow haired boy, sits at my left dropping his spoon. He smirks at me at when he does this. It's some kind of test. I pick up the spoon five or six times before moving it to the center of the table where he can no longer reach it with his short toddler arms. A new game is then initiated. The boy grabs and clenches my shirt sleeve. I smile and detach his fingers by tickling his little pink palm. Despite this and other expected distractions, dinner goes well. After the three boys eat what they will, my friend and I clear the table while in the living room, her wife and her wife's mother read a story. In the kitchen, I lean again on the counter and the boy who was once sitting to my left at the dinner table now makes a game of running into my legs. He likes to be picked up and lifted high. (I know this from already spending a day with the boys and their current nanny.) So I lift the boy, accompanying the pick up with a high pitched weeee noise. I'm such a fun, safe babysitter. I think to myself, acknowledging the door frame and avoiding bumping the boy's head into it.

After a few minutes, we move into the living room where the other twin boy is sliding from the arm of one purple velvet chair to the arm of the matching chair beside it. I guide his back as he does. So safe. Such a safe and fun babysitter I am. Then the one who likes to be picked up with wee noises is at my knees again and without thinking or scanning my surroundings, I pick the boy up beneath his little arms and lift him up, straight up, but then suddenly our upward motion is interrupted by a crash and a cry. One second I am looking at his smiling face as I raise him above me and the other half of that second, I am hearing his head smash into the large star-shaped light fixture that hangs from the living room ceiling. A light fixture I had spotted earlier. Why didn't I compliment it then? I had thought about it. If I had verbally acknowledged it, I would have stared at it longer and more likely remembered it's precise placement on the ceiling. I would have remembered that particular pointy-ness! More regrets spin through my hazy head. I should have left immediately after dinner. I should have left before dinner. Oh no! Oh no! I hear myself repeat. I have thrown this child into a metal light fixture in front of the women who want to hire me as their nanny.

Immediately, my friend's wife is there beside me, taking the child from my arms. She's a doctor, I think, handing over the sobbing child. During this chaos, I consider running out of the house, but stay because the boy's mother, who has just taken the screaming child into her arms appears to be... laughing. Laughing? Yes, she's definitely laughing and laughing so hard that it is the soundless, stomach-gripping laughter where she can't even get her breath to say why she's so crippled with giggles. Unsure how to regard this reaction,
I apologize to the boy, to his mothers and to the other two boys who are now staring at me in an alert way, trying to decipher if I am a threat. I cover my eyes with my hand as the child covers his in the cradle of his mother's laughing bosom, unsure what else I can possibly say. I'm sorry. She says to her other son who is now reprimanding her for laughing. She then explains why she finds this all so humorous by gesturing to me and shaking her head. I fill in what I think she's thinking. It's because this is the worst possible thing I could do during a nanny interview. She agrees, nodding her head. The absolute worst. I say. I have thrown their small child into a pointy light fixture. A triangle of glass is cracked. The boy's head has been smacked and already graced with a small bump. Yet she laughs because of my unfortunate comic timing. They have three children, three young boys, and boys slip on socks, drive golf carts off cliffs, flip over couches and fall from kitchen chairs. These mothers are expert at making boo boos better.

And they know, I think, that were this to happen to me while home alone with their children, everything would be fine. An ice pack would be applied, as it is now, and the boy would be hugged better. Of course, to happen here on the night I am trying to make a good impression, well that is just the most unfortunate thing.

Light. Light.
The boy says pointing to Buzz
Lightyear's head. Light. Light! He says pointing to the broken light fixture across the room. Pulling the soft ice pack from his round blond head, he covers Buzz's head. Soon the boy is smiling again and once enough time has passed, I excuse myself. Bye bye. Bye bye. I say, pulling the front door closed behind me, waving my gloved hand. Say to Rachel: see you soooon! The mothers tell the kids, which I take to mean they still want me to come back to babysit their boys.

In the driveway, I squint through wet eyes, scrambling for the right car key. As I back out of the dark driveway, my cheeks are already streaked shiny wet.

Driving down the dark curvy rural roads, the projector in my head spins the scene over and over, tripping like a scratched record. Every muscle in me cringes with humiliation at every brain branded viewing. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot! I call myself, flipping on the radio and adjusting the heat. Such an idiot!