Chapter 18: Melanie
Something’s going on with Martin. There are inconsistencies in things he says and does.
One thing is about cooking meals. He wanted to ask his mom to come live with us. That wouldn’t worry me, except for the house.
One day when we visited her, she mentioned loving her job because she got to see kids again.
I asked her how long it had been since she’d had kids in her home.
“Oh,” she said, “Martin moved out eight years ago.”
Okay, that’s fine, except why does he now want either me or his mom to make meals for him?
If he’s been living alone here for eight years, why can’t he make himself some toast for breakfast or some macaroni and cheese for dinner? Yes, he might have ordered dinner sometimes, but he loves home-cooked meals, and it’s harder to order breakfast. Besides, it’s expensive to order every meal. I just can’t believe he’s been doing that for eight years.
He’s also had two checkups at the doctor in the last month.
The first one made sense, but why two? Most people have one per year.
Is he hiding something from me?
If so, is it something I should be worried about?
I think of possible reasons he might be keeping something from me.
He has an ex, either wife or girlfriend. Or maybe his previous wife or girlfriend died.
She would have cooked for him for most of those eight years.
They didn’t have any children, otherwise he wouldn’t be so clueless about kids and more importantly, I’d know about them. He may not want to tell me about an ex, and talking about a spouse who died young might be too upsetting for him, but surely he’d tell me if he had kids, even if they were with his ex.
I’m thinking about all this as Martin’s driving me to have my first ultrasound scan. He’s not saying much, but he’s so wired, I can feel it in the air. He’s making me nervous, too. I know it’s only a painless probe, but what if there’s something wrong? What will it feel like to see my baby? Will we finally agree on what to name our baby?
For a girl, I want Catherine, which is my mom’s name, and he wants Grace, which is his mom’s name.
For a boy, he wants George, which was his dad’s name, and I want Peter, which is my dad’s name.
We also can’t agree on if we want to know the sex of our baby before it’s born.
I don’t, and he does.
“We’re almost there!”
I know, I think. I can see the building out the window as well as you can.
We walk into the clinic, and Martin gives our names in an overly loud voice.
“You can go right down the hall and it’s the third door on your right.”
Martin can’t seem to count the doors, but I can, and we walk into a room where a young guy’s fiddling with a machine.
“Hi,” he says and smiles at me. “Are you Melanie? I’m Roberto.” He has a mild accent, and I guess he might be Mexican.
Martin steps in front of me, putting himself between us.
“I’m Martin. Where’s the ultrasound person?”
“I am doing the ultrasound.”
“The [blank] you are. You’re not gonna go anywhere near her.”
“Martin, can you come with me, please?”
I walk out of the room and back down the hall.
“Sorry,” I say to the receptionist as I walk past her desk. “I need to reschedule. I’ll call later.”
I hurry out of there. Martin follows. I don’t stop until I reach the car. I pull open the driver’s side door and get in.
“Wait for me!”
When he’s belted in, I start for home.
While I drive, I talk.
“What you did back there was unacceptable. Who owns my body?”
“Who owns my body?”
“Well, you do, but-”
“Who owns your body?”
“I do, of course.”
“Right. We both learned that somewhere around kindergarten. But you behaved as though you think you own my body.”
“But you didn’t want that guy touching you.”
“Your assumption is false.”
“What? You liked him?”
“I think he’s a nice guy and I like his accent. I would have been happy to let him put that probe on me and take pictures of the baby. If we’re going to be a team, we have to treat each other with respect. If you’re gonna be a good dad, you can’t act the way you just did. Do you understand why?”
I’m probably lecturing him, but I don’t care.
“Look, I don’t want another man touching you. Is that a crime?”
“Okay, let’s discuss this further once we’re home.”
I make him a coffee, get myself a glass of water, and bring them into the living room.
I sit down beside him and hand him his drink.
“You’re welcome. So, you don’t want other men to touch me. No other man is going to make love to me, I can tell you that for sure. Roberto was going to perform an ultrasound. That’s different. When I give birth, there’s a chance the doctor could be a man. If you’re going to fight with people, I won’t be able to relax. That means I’ll have to ask you to leave the delivery room and you won’t see our baby being born. If you can’t stand a male ultrasound person, I’ll go while you’re at work. You don’t own my body, I do. I don’t own your body. We’re a team, and we reserve love-making and other romantic things for ourselves, but you’re allowed to work with female clients and touch them in a professional way to show them an exercise. You’re allowed to hug your female friends, and I’m allowed to hug my male ones. But we need to set a good example for our child. If you’re rude, our child will learn to be rude. We wouldn’t want a girl growing up believing that one day, her body will belong not to her, but to her boyfriend or husband. We also don’t want a boy growing up believing that one day, he’ll own his girlfriend or wife like he owns his car. Do you understand?”
He guzzles coffee and then puts his empty mug down.
“I sort of do, but I just . . . don’t like the idea of another man touching you.”
“Okay. Do you want me to do this while you’re at work?”
“No, I want to see the pictures. Can’t you ask for a woman?”
“No, I won’t ask for a woman. Whoever is in that room will be the one who does the ultrasound. You don’t have to watch, you know. You can still see the pictures. I promise you I won’t let anybody else make love to me but you. Marriage is about trust. I trust you not to make love to anybody else. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, and I’m not going to ruin it by playing around with an ultrasound person. Besides, I like him the way I like my brother. But you know what? We’re allowed to look. We’re human. We’re allowed to be atrracted to people. Marriage isn’t about being owned by one person, it’s about love, and we can share the beauty in the world around us.”
I drink my water and say, “I’ve had it with talking. Let’s go for a walk and look at the wonderful world our baby will be born into.”