Valentine’s Day is a source of unfathomable stress for menfolk across this great land. The stakes are incredibly high. You get the right gift, and you could wind up in Victoria Secret splendor. Guess wrong, and you best set the shower temp for frigid. Deciding to go for broke, I just chose a unique but heartfelt gift: This year, I’m going to liberate my wife from the Childbirth Conspiracy.
Before I delve into the specifics, let’s acknowledge that America loves a good conspiracy. JFK. Roswell. 9-11. The 1982 Miss America Pageant. (Did anyone really vote for Miss Arkansas? No freakin’ way, Gary Collins!)
Yes, conspiracies are lots of fun, and make for lively discussion around the dinner table. But every now and then, you stumble upon a conspiracy so ominous, so dastardly, and so outright stinky that it shakes the very foundation of your being. This is the Childbirth Conspiracy. And it can be summed up in three words:
It doesn’t hurt.
That’s right. Giving birth to a child really doesn’t hurt. That means that the whole theatrical childbirth procedure women go through — with the pushing, and the sweating, and the screaming, and the perineum tearing — it’s really just a sham.
How do I know this? I’ll tell you how. I know this because I don’t know it.
In fact, no man knows if it really hurts. Of course, we’re told it hurts. Every stinkin’ day, we hear, “Well you just try and have a baby.” It’s the cherished phrase of women worldwide, invoked at the end of every argument, the ultimate trump card that stops us cold in our tracks.
And it’s a lie. Not just a recent one, either.
In fact, men have been told this since the beginning of time. Ancient cave art depicts women pointing at children and then their uterus, and cavemen responding with a hangdog expression.
Hieroglyphics reveal that that the pyramids were not tributes to some ancient gods, but really elaborate doghouses to which men were banished for not having to endure labor pains.
For centuries, women of the world have insisted that labor is painful, and then exploited our guilt to plunder our bank accounts for spa visits, shopping binges, and pedicures.
Oh sure, there is a lot of film footage of women in pain during labor, and ladies do manage to pull off some convincing performances during the actual labor. Even I’ve got to admit, those Cesarean sections can be convincing.
But we all know women are great at faking things, so why not this?
You get the right Hollywood special effects, some complicit MDs (I’ll get to that in second), and you pull the baby blankets right over our eyes.
So how does this elaborate scheme unfold every day? Planning, my friends. Planning.
Have you ever noticed how women cluster together and talk endlessly about anything or everything, until menfolk drift off into a world of their own little thoughts? Well what in the hell do you think they’re talking about? They’re plotting, scheming, exchanging information, devising how to keep the ruse alive.
Oh, and about those doctors. You think these guys aren’t on the take? How do you think doctors get paid such ridiculously high salaries? I believe a secret 10% of spa and shopping proceeds are re-routed to the medical industry to help maintain appearances.
This conspiratorial epiphany dawned on me a long, long time ago, but I’ve kept my mouth shut. Why? I’ve did it to temporarily placate my wife.
My wife is a woman of integrity. Deep down in her heart, she knew she was doing wrong. She loved her friends, loved to keep the peace, and so for the sake of the children and the community, she’d decided not be a whistleblower.
But I knew her conscience wanted otherwise. It’s like when we’re trying to pick a restaurant at the end of a long hard day, and she’d say, “Oh, I’m tired of making decisions. You decide.”
All these years, she’s wanted me to make the decision on this one too, so I will. On Valentine’s Day, I realized that exposing the Childbirth Conspiracy made for the perfect gift: I decided to liberate my wife from the lie she’d been living.
Who wants a box of chocolates when you can have a clean conscience?
What To Do When a Chair is Hurled at You
Valentine’s Day arrived, and my wife waited for me at the breakfast table like a kid sitting beneath the Christmas tree. She had such a hopeful look on her face, undoubtedly because in years past, my gifts were a tab bit off the mark. Personally, I would have loved a lifetime supply of door stops, or a DVD documentary on the inventing of the snow tire. With her, not so much.
This year, I knew I wouldn’t disappoint her.
“It’s liberation day!” I shouted. “I’m going to help you break from the ranks and come clean!”
She looked around the room, perhaps in search of chocolates or something gilded. “What ranks? Where are the goods?”
“The good is you’re going to accomplish by fessing up the Childbirth Conspiracy. Come clean. Tell the truth. Honey, it’s time for you to show other women that y’all don’t need to guilt us into loving you. Remember, you have sexual organs that we’re really fond of.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” she said, becoming agitated. “Where the hell are the chocolates?” She started looking under placemats for the non-existent gift.
I had to keep calm; there was obviously a lot peer pressure to keep a lid on this this thing. By this point, she had lived a lie for so many years that she probably believed it was true.
“Ok, let’s talk,” I said. “Let’s really talk about the Childbirth Conspiracy.”
Basically, I did the talking. For fifteen minutes straight, I told her that I was quite aware of the diabolical Childbirth Conspiracy, and I detailed it in all its revolting complexity.
At 15 minutes and 1 second, I announced, “So my Valentine’s Day gift to you is to liberate you from this legion of liars. Come clean, woman. Together, we will revel in the truth, and expose all the diabolical doctors who have helped foster this falsehood.”
At 15 minutes and 3 seconds, the first chair salvo came in. It was a dining room chair, relatively heavy, yet she hurled it across the room with ease. What you’ll find really impressive was that I was sitting on it at the time.
The chair toss surprised me. I thought, being Italian, that my wife would break dishes if upset, aka Talia Shire in the Godfather. Apparently, dishes wouldn’t suffice. She needed sturdy furniture to prove her point. She proceeded to throw the remaining dining room chairs at me, then moved on to the bar stools in the kitchen, the ottoman from the living room, and eventually the entire patio set.
Next, she got on the phone, and soon neighbor women were walking over the house, carrying various chairs which they hurled at me as well. This went on for a good hour and a half. When I saw two women lugging a hide-a-bed into the house, I realized it was time to skedaddle. It was quite obvious my plan had gone down the tubes. The strength of the women’s conspiracy superseded our flimsy marriage vows. Before being impaled by a sleeper-sofa, I bailed out a window and ran for the hills.
A horde of women followed me to the edge of the woodlands that surrounded our subdivision. They stopped at the forest’s edge. From afar, I saw them place their chairs on the ground in a circle and discuss the events that had just taken place. My eyes narrowed. The conspiracy continued.
I stumbled wearily into the hills, where I happened upon a group of deer-hunters. Clad in orange, they were gathered around a campfire. I dropped at their feet, weary and wounded from the furniture onslaught, and told my tale.
I had expected them to be amazed by my revelation, but instead they only tsked.
“You shouldn’t have said anything, you dumb ass,” one of the men said. “Why do you think we come out here?”
I squinted at him uncertainly. It suddenly occurred to me, as a non-hunter, that I was never actually quite sure why these men take to the woods and sit in a tree for a long, long time.
“We’re out here planning how to take the ladies down,” he continued. “It’s why we’ve been gathering arms, and making our plans. You don’t go at this alone, like you did. We need to be smart about our next move. Very smart.”
The fire and their complicity warmed my heart. I spent the rest of Valentine’s Day separated from my wife, but joined in the bonds of brotherhood of fellow Childbirth Conspiracy bashers.
Beware, ladies, the official color of Valentine’s Day will change next year. You won’t get a box of chocolates wrapped in red paper. You’ll get the truth, and it will fly in your face in a blaze of orange.
photo by jkavo