First Chapter

After a rambling introduction, the book begins with the following chapter...


The bet

It didn’t begin with a bet.

It could have, but it didn’t.

Jennifer and I were catching up with friends of ours. They had just bought a new house, swapped their sports car for two more practical cars and bought a dog. They were officially part of suburbia. They had, so to speak, joined the dark side.

We played with the six-week old puppy and the conversation homed in, like a baby-seeking missile, on having a family.

“Well, you have the three bedroom house, the car and the dog,” I mused. “Now all you need is the pitter-patter of small feet to make the suburban dream come true.”

“We’re one step ahead of you,” Mark said raising his eyebrows and nodding knowingly.

“We’ve been trying the past month,” Emma added. “I mean, I went off the pill last month.”

“We’re also trying,” Jennifer immediately said and thus went straight against what we’d discussed that same morning. In my world, we’d agreed not to tell anyone. It is after all a very personal thing and you don't want to jinx it by talking too much about it.

“You’re kidding!” Emma said and hugged my wife.

Mark and I just locked eyes and nodded towards each other. Jennifer and Emma soon disappeared into the kitchen and started talking wifespeak. We could hear them discuss when their periods were due and other finer details of baby making.

“So you’re trying too,” I said, not wanting to make a big deal out of it.

“Yeah, hard but rewarding work,” Mark said with a smile, leaning back and sipping his beer.

“We’ve been trying for two months.”

“You’ve got a head start then.”

We sat there a short while; listening to our wives laughing about the trouble they had determining when they were ovulating.

“Anything yet?” Mark asked.

“No.”

Again we sat in silence hearing our sex-lives being compared in graphic detail.

“I bet you we’ll have one first,” Mark said suddenly.

And so the twenty-first-century gauntlet was thrown. You had to have a good excuse not to accept a serious bet. I looked his way to make sure this was the case.

I raised my glass and said: “You’re on. So what’ll be the damage?”

Somehow I knew I’d be in trouble when I saw Mark’s smile. He worked in sales and liked to play with high stakes.

“The loser has to eat the placenta,” he said.

“But. . . ” I started, “that’s just plain sick!”

“So you’re not up to it?”

“Can you even eat it? Wouldn’t that be illegal? Cannibalism or something?”

“So you’re not up to it?” He repeated.

To back down now would be losing face. And who was to say that I wouldn’t win? It would be great to beat him at his own game. I raised my glass. “Sure, get your frying pan ready,” I said.



[1] For anyone who is interested, here is the morning checklist:

  1. Wake up
  2. Have a shower (to actually wake up)
  3. Shave
  4. Fix the hair
  5. Deodorant
  6. Put on clothes
  7. Breakfast
  8. Brush teeth
  9. Drool toothpaste on my shirt.
  10. Change shirt
  11. Find wallet and keys
  12. Leave the house to go to the bus stop
  13. Return to the house and pick up the mobile phone
  14. Miss the bus
  15. Get to work late.