Shout Your Abortion

by Richard

June 4, 2017

I first got my girlfriend pregnant when I was 18. It was 1976 and it cost $75.00 at Planned Parenthood. She and I were having substance abuse issues, but in those days cocaine was harmless and non-addictive which was handy. I had to pay for the abortion, she paid for the motel room – the 300 Motel on on 115th and Aurora Avenue North, just minutes away from Lake City, and aftercare medication which was also before-care medication but with a significant dosage spike. I wasn’t the least bit regretful of my decision nor was she. And as we were recovering, the pain pills they had prescribed her at the clinic were giving me a stomach ache, but a small price to pay for having dodged a bullet like this.

I never considered having a baby, regardless of the circumstances, either then or in the fifty years since. One didn’t have to look very far to reinforce my beliefs. “I never did anything good in my life except for making a perfect baby, it was the only good thing that ever happened to me,” said the woman speaking at the AA meeting. I gave up drugs briefly in the early eighties and it seemed like it was just in time to avoid permanent damage, although not having a control group the conclusion may be ambitious. I heard lots of diatribes like these,  all with similar storylines, basically “I am bad but I made something good.” I had my doubts, but with no baby in evidence to study I took their word for it. I was under no such illusion in the possible results of my unfortunate pairings. My own family years later barely speaks to one another and my older brother has grown into an obese racist, a hybrid of ’60s radical left politics of my parents and the more grassroots views of ultra white working class burping beery pigs of Lake City,

I had seven abortions in my life, I’m embarrassed to admit. The real good news is the lack of evidence. There is no horrible goldfish mutation produced by an experimental drug use pregnancy, seven less potential convicts,  these are extremes but possibilities. I’m not great with kids, not that they don’t like me, more the opposite really –  they know instinctively that they can do anything on my watch and they seem excited by the possibilities. My first wife got pregnant twice, both resulting in miscarriages. Apparently the word had gotten out and they were choosing the final solution on their own. She enlisted my help babysitting her friend’s two daughters once in the eighties, the only time I ever consented to anything like that. They were horrible – screaming, laughing, crying like shell-shocked 18 year old soldiers fresh out of a foreign war zone where their entire platoon was lost. Luckily by late 1986 after three abortions my cash was flowing nicely and I was able to afford a top notch stereo in my Monte Carlo to drown them out as I drove to Fred Meyer. “Pick out anything you want,” I instructed them which was a mistake as they didn’t really calm down at all. They got worse, or at least it seemed that way as I could hear them somewhere in the store while I was in the magazine aisle reading the new Hot Rod.

One abortion I had in the nineties was with a woman who wanted to keep it. I was stunned, I just assumed this was an accident to be dealt with and never spoken about. I was even flattered sort of and I thought maybe this would be a good thing, like a car payment, and I could stop in now and then to like tell it things. I discussed the plan with my younger brother’s wife, who appeared to want to hit me. Then I talked to an attorney, whoa. 18 years plus ten after to collect any missed payments with huge interest. It was a variable rate mortgage with the most draconian terms to be enforced by this person I barely knew, although she seemed nice.

The trip to the abortion clinic should have been a happy occasion but I am afraid she was not 100% on board with the project to my bewilderment. Her luck changed more than mine that day I’m guessing and we certainly enjoyed the painkillers.

Over the years people became comfortable with abortions, good sports about it, almost too good like they really wanted to kill my babies. Who can blame them, if I was made pregnant I would be pissed off and looking for revenge. But I don’t think much about it, what I do think about are the things that did happen. A lack of kids is a lack of responsibility and I did pretty much anything I wanted  in my life. Almost none of it worked: huge resentments on both sides, squandered opportunity, giant debt, bankruptcy, expulsion from entire communities, lower middle class societal PTSD. I wake up sweating at night saying fuck you out loud to someone I got in a fight with at a party in the seventies. Somehow I sense these life lessons could be counter productive.

I imagine couples who should have kids would be in years of therapy, college professors or evangelical christians. Narcissists mostly. Sociopaths with right-wing leaning politics who tell anyone they meet about themselves at cocktail parties and have great credit. “All religion is bullshit and the government is run by a rabid gang of Nazis, son.” I was reading books by the age of six and I would expect a certain level of innocence to be suppressed by then. “And try not to drive when you’ve been drinking” which is very good advice, trust me on this. I leave rent checks on the table at restaurants absentmindedly, I’m sure I would misplace a child easily at a giant shopping mall although I never go as the security is on high alert from the minute I walk in. “Don’t get tattoos on your hands until you have exhausted all possibilities for employment” is more advice I could dispense now that I think about it.

“Hello, my name is Richard, I am a drug addict and a possible alcoholic although it hardly seems relevant as I don’t intend to stop doing either of these things. I am however, grateful today that at least I didn’t create a miserable childish beast who hates me.” Those are the greatest meetings, held everywhere they serve hard liquor and have live music, all are welcome with proper ID.

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