As the nation learned once again last week with the coverage of Dr. George Tiller's murder, the abortion issue is all too rarely approached with the sensitivity and nuance it deserves.
For while all happy babies look basically alike except for the ones who are born with a full head of hair which is always kind of funny, each abortion story is its own unique saga of dysfunction and the foibles and limitations of human biology. To that end, welcome back to Crap Email From A Dude. In which Noah and Jess run into a rough patch (understatement!) over differing views on "choice."
Noah and Jess met in a creative writing seminar at one of those schools where everyone meets in a creative writing seminar. Three years later in some "cozy" Brooklyn apartment they would conceive, in a tale in which dark and ageless truths of the human condition would reveal themselves through the unwinding of a few generation-specific fables and delusions.
Boomer parents would get involved, is what we are saying.
As with all Crap Emails, the story of Noah and Jess is perhaps best told in two parts: the email, whose desperate diction and hand-wringing over the politics of Facebook hold a sort of universal appeal, and the context, which is more specific and subtle and amazing. The email will in all likelihood affirm your commitment to keeping abortion legal. The context may deepen any feelings of antipathy you harbor for the generation of liberals we have to thank for it! Here's the email. (All names have been changed.)
————— Forwarded message —————
Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 at 7:47 PM
To: Jessica Pitt Schaefer
I'm not going to make any bones about this and try to be as direct as possible, because I think right now I've been too indirect. While I don't regret bringing my parents into this, I realize now I should have been more directly involved. So here's my shot at trying to change that.
Jess, I know you're making the wrong decision if you think you are going to have this child. You might feel like you possibly couldn't make any other choice right now, but I know you aren't thinking of how hard this will be. Jess, even if your parents and all your friends support you as a single mother, you'll still be a single mother. No one will be there at three in the morning, to take the kid the to school, to be there when you want to go out. What do you think will happen to your social life? You see how Marisa goes about her life now, and from what I hear, she complains a LOT. What do you think will happen to your dating life? To your looks? You think your acne is bad now, what will the stress of having a child tearing at you every minute do to it?
Here's what I believe: even if you're married, a child should be planned. You've told me you were a planned child, don't you want this kid to be planned the way you were? Do you want to have to tell this kid that it was an accident? Jess, it is so hard to take care of a child as a single parent, regardless of the situation. You might have a billion dollars or be a wandering hobo, it's still too much to handle. I really know that you don't realize what you're getting into. You also have to realize that I won't be there and that most normal men (sane ones) won't want any part of something like this.
You can wreck my life and your life, that's fine, we're adults and we can handle it- but you can't wreck an innocent child's life Jess! What has this child done to deserve a broken home? We used protection and this happened, it's a fluke, an accident, nothing more. It wasn't "meant to happen" and it doesn't "like you." If you really think this child likes you now, how do you think it will like you after 18 years of not having enough attention- the attention of a real family. I can guarantee that you won't find the kind of husband you would normally have found if you have a child tagging a long. You might think nobody understands you now, but Jess- that's just because you haven't found the right person! A child deserves a loving environment, and I sure as hell don't love you and you don't love me.
Jess, you are better than this, I honestly think you can write a great book, grab a fantastic guy as long as you're allowed to move at your own pace. This throws you off course and I know you'll regret it later. You can always have another child later on, you can't take back one that's been born.
If you really insist on going through with this mistake, then I want to make sure you get my point of view. I want to be completely off the hook, I want no contact from you ever again, or the child. I do not want my name down on any certificate because there has still yet to be a blood test to determine paternity. Before that even happens I want to go to a doctor with you to make sure that this is a healthy pregnancy. To make sure you aren't putting yourself in jeopardy with this. Unhealthy pregnancies can happen and they are very real. I don't care if you went to a doctor yesterday, I want to go for my sake.
I also do not want you telling any of our mutual friends that I'm the father, because of this lack of DNA evidence. And while I realize I can't control any of your actions, I would hope you have the good sense not to post anything on facebook where someone I've recently met (or have known) can see (maybe even unfriending some people like Ben and Jason makes sense). I won't leave New York and neither will you, so we'll have to learn to pleasantly avoid each other forever. I really don't want someone tracking me down in twenty years either so if you take this on, it's your duty to tell any child the situation and how fucked up it was. I will do no such explaining or legitimizing.
Lastly, as good as you feel about this decision now, what do you think you'll feel six years from now, after you have a kid and are tired of taking care of it? You'll feel like a terrible mother and Jess, you don't deserve that. You have so much love to give, it's just that now is not the time for you to give it. You deserve to have a life of your own, before it's dominated by a child, that way you can comfortably bring a kid into your life with a proper partner. I remember you telling me your dream of having a stay-at-home husband, which won't happen here. Seriously Jess, you and me are through after this if you decide to keep it. This is your decision, yes, but it doesn't just affect your life. Forget about me and you, think of the potential child it will harm. This action you want to pull right now is destructive to you and it. You'll be sick of each other before you know it. You won't assimilate with anther partner or family as easily as you would hope. You will be tied together for the rest of your natural life.
This is not about what your parents, my parents, myself or even what you think. This is about the future and what comes of it. Right now, you are at a crossroads, one that could have a huge, terrible fallout. Are you ready to bear that on your shoulders? Are you ready to have a child who's angry with you because of this situation? Life is hard enough without this kind of confused and vulnerable beginning. Jess, children get angry their parents on some level, but those born into unfortunate and unloving circumstances do so more often and with greater meaning.
To be honest Jess, I'm worried about you. I known you are not capable of making up for the love of two parents, especially at your age. I've also heard bad things about post-partum depression and I don't want this adding to your other psychological issues.
Jess, you are not thinking about the larger picture, you are just acting quickly, doing what you feel is comfortable right now. To act this way, without thinking of the consequences to the rest of your life is a dangerous action that I cannot support you in.
Please get back to me as soon as you read this,
1. Yeah, she knew he was sort of, in her words, "damaged goods." Sometimes he claimed to hear voices. Another time they were having sex, and she innocently asked to change positions, and he snapped back, "Stop asking questions!" And he said once that he wished there was a statute under which children could sue their parents for burdening them with their faulty DNA, that he would win a huge judgment. But you know: this is a small liberal arts college. and that stuff is, like, the "liking Dane Cook" of that particular brand of higher educational institution. You'd never know he was a dick, she swears. He was really good with kids, for instance…
2. They were friends first, fuckbuddies second. So she had talked about abortion before, probably when Juno came out or something, and like many girls who assume people who say shit like "I want to sue my parents for crippling me with their rotten DNA" are just being melodramatic, Jess was one of those "abortion is a really important choice for women to have but I don't know if I could do it, kids are cute, etc." people.
3. And anyway she had met Noah's parents and figured he was exaggerating about hating them so much. They smoked pot and seemed really cool, even if his mom was a little "TMI" about sharing certain private details of her life, as in how Noah had been an "accident" resulting from a broken condom.
4. All that said, they were both just a year out of college and when she missed a period, she was hit with a proverbial "reality check". She still lives at home, after all.
5. And Noah babysits for a living.
6. So she told him about missing her period, that she didn't know what she would do, and…
7. Noah threatened to commit suicide and left town. Jess later found he had gone home to his parents' house.
8. Jess made an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
9. Meanwhile at home, Noah tracked down Jess's father's work phone number and instructed his own father to strongly urge him to force Jess to have an abortion.
10. Jess had not told her father she was pregnant.
11. "Noah is in a very fragile emotional state," Noah's dad told Jess's dad. "We are not ready for a child."
12. Jess found out about the conversation from her mom. (Her dad didn't speak to her for a week; it was too "awkward." To his credit, he told Noah's dad to "fuck off.")
13. Jess called Noah's dad. "You can't call an adult woman's parents to talk about her reproductive health!" she said. "Oh yes I can," he said. And anyway, "I wasn't calling as Noah's father, but as Noah's lawyer."
14. Jess says: "The thing is, his mom seems like she'd be an awesome feminist. She runs some charity that teaches poor women how to cook cheap, healthy meals. She told me she was really pro-choice, and i thought, you're not pro-choice, because you're trying to make my choice for me."
15. She had gotten into healthy cooking after battling a weight problem, and formed the nonprofit after "opting out" of a high-powered corporate job after realizing she was "jealous" of the time her sons' "caregivers" had to spend with them.
16. Jess received the Crap Email, and replied to it with the details of her appointment.
17. "I now knew that I made the right decision," Jess says.
18. Interestingly, Noah returned to accompany her to Planned Parenthood.
19. They are no longer Facebook friends.
20. "At least," Jess's mom said, "you know you're fertile!"
Related: Crap Email From A Dude [Moe's Site]