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A Pregnant Pause

April 28, 2012

Many of my friends and students for years have told me that I should begin collecting my stories and writing them down.  Not my short stories—things that have actually happened to me.  After some thought, I decided I would try it, and that I would use this blog as a conduit for doing so. I don’t know where these stories will lead—if they will lead anywhere—but this seems like an idea worth exploring.  Please let me know what you think.  Here we go…

My first job out of high school was at a southern California theme park that I’ll call “Ocean Experience.”  One of the less appealing tasks we were assigned was at the Dolphin and Whale Feeding Pool.  Two employees were shoved into a stall that would make a Massachusetts Turnpike toll booth seem “roomy” by comparison.  There were two cashier windows, and in between us:  a huge bucket filled with dead fish to sell to tourists who wished to feed the cetaceans.  It seemed always busy, so the shift would go by very quickly; on the downside, you would end the day smelling like, well, smelt.   At least no one wanted to sit next to you on the bus ride home.

I noticed one fall that I seemed to have a rather frequent stall mate.  Her name was Darlene.  My father would have described her as a “wee thing”—five feet tall, 95 pounds soaking wet.  A cute brunette, she was extremely shy, and rarely looked you in the eye when she spoke.  Oh, she had one other distinguishing characteristic:  she was nearly six months pregnant.

I worked this shift with Darlene at least three times a week.  As you can imagine, she got fatigued rather easily, so I made sure she didn’t move any more than she wanted or had to.  I would direct the customers to my window when she needed a breather, and every chance I had, I would sneak off to find her ice cream, fudge, or churros to feed her cravings.  Eventually, she started to overcome her shyness, and began to tell me The Story.

Her boyfriend Todd promised he’d marry her and help her raise their child, and then the next day climbed into his VW van and was never heard from again. Her religiously conservative family chucked her out and refused to even speak to her.  She was no longer welcomed in her church.   She was now living with a couple (Mark and Angie) who were going to adopt her child, and they were nice enough, but there was something about them that gave her the creeps, just a little, but they were nice enough, and they’d be good parents.   Abandoned by everyone else, I think she needed someone to talk to.  Why not the guy you were stuck with in a little booth hawking sushi for dolphins?

Then, about a week later, I finally got a sense of how much she had come to trust me.    During a very rare slow period, she turned to me and said:  “So…Mark and Angie have enrolled me in a Lamaze class.”

Being nineteen and male, I was very good at not really listening and making the conversation about what I wanted to discuss:  “Did you ever see Bill Cosby’s routine about that. It’s so hilarious!”  I then began making exaggerated breathing noises, and laughing, blissfully unaware of the fact that while Mr. Cosby was funny, I actually was not.

Darlene sighed heavily, and tried again.  “I was thinking…I really don’t want to do it alone.”

“No,” I replied while scooping up some herring. “I wouldn’t think so.”

Bless her, she tried subtlety one last time.  “Maybe someone that I work with.  You know, who has his own car.”

“Yes, that would make the most sense.”

I realized after a moment that Darlene had said nothing else.  When I looked over at her, I jumped—I had never seen such a furious glare.  I peered over my shoulder, wondering who it was she might have been looking at with such anger.  What’s going on?

Realizing I was not, as they used to say “picking up what she was laying down,” she finally resorted to the direct approach.  “Would you take the class with me?”

Oh.  You want me to do it?  Wow, didn’t see that coming.  Without giving it any real thought, I shrugged, and said “okay.”  It was only later that I would realize the consequences of that answer.

And you will discover just what those consequences were next time.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    April 28, 2012 6:36 pm

    I definitely think you should write down your stories 🙂 They were such fun to listen to in class; it’d be cool to revisit them in writing. I’ll be staying tuned!

  2. April 28, 2012 6:56 pm

    Thanks–I shall try not to disappoint!

  3. Lucy Simard permalink
    April 28, 2012 10:10 pm

    I am waiting for the next installment, Kevin, my talented writer friend! :o)

  4. Jeff Parlin permalink
    April 29, 2012 3:41 am

    This is a great one, indeed. I remember it in vivid detail. Actually, I remember all your stories in vivid detail… must be that natural storytelling finesse of yours. Having your stories in text will truly be a gift.

  5. Chloe Duhaime permalink
    April 29, 2012 1:43 pm

    It is definitely a cliff hanger. I cannot wait for the next one! Way to avoid Darlene’s hints. Very funny.

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