Flipside: Climate change

Arnon changes the channel with an irritable jerk of the remote.

climate flipside 88 (photo credit:)
climate flipside 88
(photo credit: )
Arnon changes the channel with an irritable jerk of the remote. "Hey," Anat snaps at him - something she has been doing a lot lately. "I was watching that program." "Suit yourself," Arnon answers, dejected. "Personally, I was hoping we could get our minds off sperm for a change." He is referring to the fact that even their favorite British TV series, Cold Feet, is mocking their fertility plight - or at least mirroring it - in today's plot line. But the minute the words are out of his mouth, he regrets having let them escape, aware of what is about to follow. "Don't you dare go there," Anat hisses through her hormones, while shutting off the space heater. "You're the one who wanted me to go through with this." Arnon sighs, then shivers, wondering whether all this torture and endless sums of money are really worth it. "We're the ones who wanted us to go through with this," he corrects her, feeling ready to explode. Like the boiler did this morning, due to subzero temperatures during the night. Another nuisance to be dealt with. Another fat check to write. And no shower, to boot. Not until tomorrow, at any rate. If he lives till then, that is. Which he's not sure he's particularly interested in doing, under the circumstances. "We," Anat balks, fanning her flushed face, now wet from a combination of sweat and tears. "The last I looked, it was only me giving myself injections; only me getting bloated; only me being poked and prodded; and it will be only me being pregnant; and only me giving birth." ARNON FLINCHES, torn between guilt toward Anat, on the one hand, and anger at being blamed for their current state, on the other. It is his physiology at the root of the problem, after all - an unfortunate side effect of his illness, not his fault. But it is at his insistence that they start a family as soon as possible. And it is his ultimatum that their offspring be the fruit of his loins, or that they not come into being at all. Which is why he had his sperm frozen prior to the operation in the first place. And why he and Anat have spent the first year of their marriage in more of a clinical embrace than an emotional one - with their previous bond of passion and friendship being upstaged, if not replaced, by the bondage of reproduction. "I know how hard it's been on you," Arnon says, his teeth chattering uncontrollably since, in addition to turning off the convector, Anat has opened the window. Leaving the room to fetch an extra sweater, he realizes, would not be a wise move just yet. Anat might misinterpret it as an attempt to avoid confrontation. Assuring her that it's merely an attempt to avoid frostbite would not elicit even a hint of a smile, of that he is certain. Laughter, like so much else they used to share, has been scarce lately, to say the least. "Your lips are blue," Anat responds, torn between guilt toward Arnon on the one hand, and anger at being blamed by him for his current state. It is his physiology at the root of the problem, after all - an unfortunate side effect of his illness, not his fault. But it is at his insistence that they start a family as soon as possible. And it is his ultimatum that their offspring be the fruit of his loins, or that they not come into being at all. Which is why she agreed to to the IVF in the first place. Or was it? During the past few months, Anat has had the occasional flash of self-awareness that prevents her from placing the burden of responsibility solely on her husband's strong shoulders. The ones that so attracted her to him when they met. The ones she leans - and cries - on whenever the need arises. Which it seems to do these days a hell of a lot more than it used to. Before baby-making became their raison d'etre, that is. What Anat acknowledges in the privacy of her soul is that she is no more keen on exploring other options for childbearing than Arnon is, though for her own reasons - one of them being what she considers a deep, dark secret. Which, of course, it is, since she didn't tell him about it at the time, and now, due to their current situation, she will never be able to. Had she only known then, when she had the abortion, that Arnon was going to get testicular cancer and have to have his sperm frozen, she would have made a different choice. Or would she? The fact is that they were already discussing the possibility of marriage when she discovered she was pregnant. Why did she decide not to tell him? The answer, she knows, is that she was afraid he'd want her to carry the fetus to term, not have it eliminated illegally and pretend the whole thing never happened. Ironically, of course, she could not keep this information from her IVF specialist. And her being in cahoots with him on this has created an accomplice-like connection between them that she cannot stand. Particularly since it reminds her of how she and her abortion doctor were partners in crime: He by telling the anesthesiologist that he was performing a routine D and C, due to a miscarriage; and she by handing him a cash-filled envelope. Worse than that, the only person on whom she is able take out her frustration is Arnon. Like this morning, when she threw a fit at him for having turned off the faucet in the bathroom. "The dripping was driving me insane," he said in his defense when she berated him for being behind the burst boiler. "If you tune me out, you could at least listen to the radio," she wailed. "We were told to leave the water running, so the pipes wouldn't freeze!" But now, seeing him quiver, Anat's heart melts toward the man whose only real failing is his feeling like a failure. "If you put some warm clothes on," she says, latching the window and turning up the heat. "I'll let you take control of the remote." "Sounds like a plan," Arnon answers. "And if you're really nice to me, I'll let you watch Cold Feet." "Nah," Anat yawns. "I'm a little sick of the subject of sperm myself." ruthie@jpost.com