“Look out for random coins,” the pyschic told me, “beings on the other side like to leave coins around as a way to get in touch with you. Your father in particular is leaving coins around to let you know he’s around. He’s particularly interested in the whole baby-making process. He’s the relative on the other side who’s making sure all goes as planned with getting pregnant.”
I sat across from the gypsy-looking psychic in her rent-controlled apartment, on plastic folding chairs, a mess of tarot cards strewn about on the table, a dirty cat laying across all the cards, and tried to hold both the love I have for my late father in my heart and my disgust at the idea that he would be overseeing my getting pregnant.
“Maybe I won’t see any coins,” I reassured myself as I left the psychic’s place. I mostly use my credit card for purchases anyway, so I don’t really deal with coins anymore. I wondered if bit coins counted and then I realized I didn’t know what they were anyway.
“How was the psychic?” my husband, Todd, asked me that night, which is really his way of asking, “Did she say anything about me?” which is really his way of asking, “Did she say anything about me being very successful in the near future?”
“I’m sorry, baby, we didn’t get to you, she couldn’t stop talking about the whole pregnancy thing.”
“Ah, well what’d she say about it?”
We had been trying to get pregnant for a year already. At the beginning we washed aside any comments from others who had had trouble getting pregnant like “It’s harder than you think” and “if you think you’re just going to get pregnant on the first shot you’re a fool.” While I knew the stakes were against us because of our age (40) I just had this suspicion it would come to us immediately. It didn’t. The more you try to get pregnant, the more you want to, not necessarily out of some overwhelming desire to be pregnant, but just as a task to master.
“She said my father’s watching over us and leaving coins around to let us know he’s around.” Why should I be the only one holding on to this cringe-worthy news?
“He’s watching over us getting pregnant?”
“That’s what she said.”
“Is he watching us right now?”
“I don’t know, why don’t you ask him.”
“Richard, are you watching us?”
We both waited on our respective sides of the bed. It being my father I secretly hoped a cavalcade of coins would come raining down on us, but we were met with silence so we slid under the covers and turned towards each other.
“What day of ovulation is this?” Todd asked.
“Peak,” I said.
“So we have to do it then,” he said, with a mixture of enthusiasm and dread. He was always happy to “stick his penis inside my vagina” as he put it but the having to do anything takes away some of the hotness. We also had a new episode of Shark Tank at our disposal and it was calling our names.
“We should, I think,” I said. And with that he put his hand on my left breast. “Wow, you’re really turning it up in here.”
“I don’t see you doing anything,” and with that he laid back down. These days he’s easily dejected when his “moves” don’t work.
So I put my hands down his underwear to grab his flaccidness. “I don’t see you doing anything either,” I poked at him.
“Why do you say that?” his voice showing true irritation. “Why would I be erect just automatically?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and we both let up on each other and got down to the business at hand. Todd was soon on top of me, removing my underwear, then awkwardly pulling my torso up so he could get behind me to lift my shirt off and then my remove bra. Once we were both naked and rubbing against each other I put my hands on his ass. As I was lightly stroking my right hand past his ass crack I felt a small hard object poking out of his ass.
“Do you have something in your ass?” I asked.
“I think I just felt something in your ass. Are you trying to spice things up?”
“I don’t have anything in my ass.” He reached back to confirm this and made a face of true consternation. His hand returned holding a nickel.
“Hi Richard,” Todd said.
“Why do you have a nickel in your ass?”
“You’re always urging me to try new things.”
“You think that’s my father?”
“He’s not great with hello’s if so. Why would I not have felt that and where did it come from?”
“I have no idea. Maybe it was in the bed already or fell out your pants.”
“Here,” Todd said as he tried to hand me the nickel.
“I don’t want it.”
“K, I’ll keep it, it’ll be my lucky nickel. So what do we do? Do we keep going? I will.”
“I need a moment,” I said. Todd rolled off me.
“How long a moment? I can’t just go from in and out of the mood.”
“Just a moment! God. It’s not exactly ideal for me to be thinking of my dead father while I’m having sex.”
“Alright alright, take a moment.” Todd then took down the iPad and opened up Shark Tank.
“What’re you doing?” I asked, incredulous.
“I’m giving you a moment.”
“You’re watching Shark Tank?”
“Just until you’re ready to start again.”
“Turn the fucking iPad off. Jesus, what’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry, I was just trying to give you a moment.”
“Get back on top of me.” This is when my being a task-master comes in handy. You have to be ready to overcome obstacles and plow ahead, even when your husband is watching Shark Tank next to your naked body and your dead father just revealed he is hiding in your husband’s asshole. Those are the times that truly define your ability to roll with the punches.
Todd got back on top of me and we abrasively rubbed our genitals against each other until our skin was raw and we were thus ready enough to have the wonderful life-altering experience of creating a human being, which lasted about three minutes.
“That was quick,” I said.
“Well I stopped masturbating per doctor’s orders so I could give you my best shot. I’m trying to make your father proud.”
“Eww don’t ever say that again.”
As we watched Shark Tank I tried to think if I would be happy or grossed out if this was the one that got us pregnant, the time that we pulled what could be coined “daddy’s nickel” from my husband’s butt. A particularly apt expression — “beggars can’t be choosers” — came to mind.
Throughout the month I was on vigilant alert for coins, which served to revivify my father, who had died when I was six. My memory of him had diminished a bit over time; I could always conjure him, but the edges were blurry. The search for coins was bringing back memories I didn’t think I had in the bank, and they one by one walked into the forefront of my consciousness like nervous guests: my father driving me to the ice rink, my father scolding a 4 yr old me for talking fresh, my father letting me hold the steering wheel while he drove.
My most ingrained memory of my father was his business side. He had taught my brother and I how to run a business when we were kids. He brought us to a toy store to buy inventory, showed us how to maintain the books, and then brought us to a flea market to sell. This early business tutorial served me well later in life when I became an entrepreneur myself and started my own consulting business. I often wondered if he would be proud of me.
A few weeks after Todd pulled my father out of his butt I was late for a meeting with a potential client and in a bad mood.
My period had hit that morning and the cramps felt like I did have a baby in my stomach, a little Mike Tyson that was using my stomach as boxing practice. Traffic had been horrible getting to this restaurant, Todd told me that morning that a Turkish thief had withdrawn approximately three thousand dollars from our checking account because Todd had gone against our bank’s advisory to not use gypsy ATMs for exactly this reason, and I was wearing an outfit I hated.
I parked the car and hobbled in heels as fast as I could to the restaurant. Just my luck, I found myself unable to pass a brigade of four stroller-pushing mothers, each pregnant with what was at least their second child. Each time I went right to pass them they moved right; if I moved left they collectively swayed left. Aggravated, I muttered a rude “excuse me” and pushed through them like some adult version of the game Red Rover.
“Great, thanks a lot!” I heard one of them say. I turned around and saw that I had accidentally upended one of their purses and a mess of coins was scattered on the street. One of them bent down to retrieve the purse but the change was left where it lay as they continued their strolling. I got a look of scorn from each of them as they passed me.
I walked over to the pile of change on the ground and knelt down. “Hi, Dad,” I said to each coin as I picked it up.