Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Sperm Donor

'Well, look who I ran into,'crowed Coincidence.
'Please,'flirted Fate, 'this was meant to be.'
― Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1

There were only sixteen of us in the group, even so, I knew there was no way I going to remember everyone’s name. Yes, we had each labeled our chest with a sticky tag upon arrival, but some people had used a plain blue biro that I couldn’t see from the other side of the table, while another had the sort of hand-writing that made it almost impossible to tell an a from and e, or whether that was double-r or an m.

I don’t know about you, but I reckon there’s something a bit creepy about a stranger surreptitiously peering at your left breast while you’re speaking to them. And let’s face it, those sticky tags have a habit of losing their stick pretty damn quickly. The seminar is rarely half over before Hadley the coffee cup joins the crowd by the sink, and someone’s right loafer has picked up Galatea.

Tell us something memorable about yourself. Perhaps choose something you’re proud of, something unique or funny, something you’re happy for us to remember you by.

It was almost my turn.  Two more introductions, then me.

The bitch inside my head slammed words against my skull like a squash ball thudding on the grubby court walls: dull, plain, old, trite, drab, sad, tame, bland—forgettable. You’re eminently forgettable…

Still, somehow, the voice of the quietly spoken young woman to my right began to plink through the echoing fog haze of my panic. Right after she’d explained that she worked in a highly specific and, frankly, to me quite intimidating field, she added something like this:
 And… well… I was donor conceived, and my search for the man who is my biological father has been quite public. Some of you might have seen the documentary about it.  And…well… actually… it turns out that my paternal grandfather is a rather famous Australian academic …

As she named him, I began to see the likeness. Not to the famous academic. To his son.
To the guy I’d known at uni.
To an anonymous student who gave sperm in exchange for money.
To the smiling bearded guy with the unnervingly blue eyes who’d shared a house with one of my friends and who, for several years, I’d thought was kind of gorgeous.
To her biological father.
I guess it shouldn’t have felt weird. But it did.
It felt like one of those life-imitating-art moments.

I was swallowed by images of nights sharing lentil and vegie mash in mismatched bowls. Secondhand chairs around a rickety table. Energetic, idealistic, expansive conversations fuelled by our passion for our studies. And cheap wine.

Anything was possible.
Everything was unknown.
I was not who I am now.

Not who I am now, but no more memorable then than now.
He wouldn’t remember me.
I will have left no impression.
No sticky tag on his memory.

Tell us something memorable about yourself… something you’re happy for us to remember you by


  1. Wow. I was surprised to learn recently that the young man who left an indelible mark on my heart during our university days has far from forgotten me. Perhaps we are far less forgettable than we believe ourselves to be?

  2. Lovely to hear from you again... and thank you for such a sweet, positive comment...

  3. It's a strange thing to look back on a period of time and realise that the footprint you thought you had left is invisible to the people who are there now, and may also be invisible to those who were there with you. And what we think people will remember about us might not be what we assume.
    Who knows if that particular guy remembers you? Maybe. Probably. You are way more memorable than you think.
    It's funny, thinking about lentils also takes me back to my uni days, specifically 2nd year, the house we lived in, the people I lived with, the friends who came over to share meals and cheap wine with us, and the friends I visited to get away from that house sometimes. A few of those people I hadn't thought of in ages.

    1. ..glad my ghosts helped some of yours find their way back...

  4. What a strange co-incidence! I bet it was hard not to tell her that you knew her dad.
    I have lost count of the times when being introduced to someone who I have previously met, and when asked if we knew each other they replied "No, we've never met." it is a horrible to think I am just so forgettable. However, I don't let it bother me any more, The fact that you spent so much time with this guy at Uni, I bet he does remember you well. It's funny, I get this impression of you Wendy that you are a very funny, straight-talking woman, definitely someone I would not forget!

    1. One of my husband's work colleagues says we've never met before EVERY time I attend a function... I wish it didn't bother me... Maybe next time I'll speak up and correct him...
      Use my straight-talking skills!

    2. I'm sure some knobbish types pretend they forget meeting you as a power trip.