Overpopulation

He could feel her glare as he drove their sedan away from the quiet, suburban street.  They passed snow covered trees surrounding picturesque stone houses and rode over rock salt, plenty of it sure to stick between tire treads.  Soon they’d be back in the city, where a layer of litter hid beneath the snow for now, until the sun would eventually reveal it, dirtier than ever.

“What did you think of the name?”

She waited a few moments before answering him.  “I like it.”

They rode in silence for a few minutes before he broke it.  He knew he should apologize for what happened earlier, and yet, he said, “Look, there’s no reason to have a coed baby shower.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?  I didn’t see any other husbands there making a scene!”

“I didn’t make a scene.  The guy asked what I do for a living and I told him.”

“Yeah, I know, Mark, I know.”  She raised her voice.  “I know all about it.  You told him you’re studying overpopulation and its effect on global resources.  You told him your conclusion: two kids per family.  Didn’t you know he and his wife have four kids?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Couldn’t you have just said you’re a scientist?  I mean, why would you bring up overpopulation at a baby shower?  Don’t you think maybe it’s, um, I don't know, not the best topic?”

“Alright, alright.  I’m sorry.  I’ll call the guy tomorrow and apologize.  I certainly didn’t mean for the conversation to turn toward vasectomies.”

“Okay, fine.  Just so you know I was mortified when I heard the two of you shouting all the way from the kitchen, but it’s fine, I’ll get over it.”

“Thanks Sheila.”

They took the Broad Street exit and were on their way home when he suggested they head to Chinatown for an early dinner.  He agreed to stop at her favorite place rather than his, and they were on good terms once again.  His fortune cookie, full of wisdom, told him there's a time to swallow pride.  He thought of China’s one-child-per-family policy and decided he stood firmly against it, though he would’ve understood if the limit were set at two.  He himself had always wanted at least three children, but he’d never told anyone, not even his wife.

9 comments:

  1. A nice bit of irony at the end, Richard. I could really feel the tension in the car. Well done.

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  2. Thanks, Karen. I consider you an authority on fictional fertility related issues after reading A Whisper To A Scream.

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  3. Wow talk about putting his foot in his mouth. Yet that ending shows that he too has dreams, that he cannot share, because to do so would make him a hypocrite.

    Loved the dialogue, very believable. ^_^

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  4. Thanks, Helen! I find it's easy nowadays for people to contradict themselves with regard to certain sensitive topics, though perhaps that's always been the case.

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  5. "I mean, why would you bring up overpopulation at a baby shower? " I laughed good and long at that - that's great. I wish the story had actually been that conversation, for it could have been a riot. Also liked that he internally desired three kids.

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  6. I would have written what Helen said, but the lady beat me to it. :)

    I enjoyed the read Richard, there's a blend of humour in there along with the home truths.

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  7. Liked this Richard - what a real character, grappling with what he wants and what he stands for.

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  8. Really well written. Some people do pick the strangest times to raise issues, don't they?

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  9. Hi, John, so glad you got a laugh out of this one. Maybe someday I'll go back and write out the awkward conversation mentioned in the story, that could be fun.

    Thanks, Steve, I always enjoy and appreciate your comments. I love to hear that you found both humor and truth in this one.

    Brinda, welcome and thank you so much for your comment. I wanted these folks to seem like a real couple, so it was great to read your opinion that they came off as such.

    Thanks, Icy! "Well written" means a lot coming from you because I love your writing style. I agree, some people don't choose their moments very well, and also sometimes conversations veer in directions toward which we didn't ever intend them to go.

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