My Good Men Project column runs one day early this week, and it’s turned out to be a controversial one: I May Have a Son, But I’ll Never Know for Sure. It’s a true story I tell, one I’ve not written about before. I had wanted to write a piece on the Casey Anthony trial, focusing on the anonymity of the father of little Caylee, but I thought better of stoking that fire.
In a medium-sized city in the Midwest, there’s a boy who will turn 13 next month. He lives with his parents, who were wed three months before he was born. He is tall, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. His name is Alastair*, and he may –- or may not -– be my son…
Fourteen autumns ago, I was casually dating a woman I’ll call Jill*. We had unprotected intercourse a handful of times in late October and early November. And just before Thanksgiving, Jill discovered she was pregnant.
She didn’t tell me until after New Year’s Day. While Jill and I had been in a “friends with benefits” arrangement, she’d also been growing more serious about another man, Ted.* She’d first slept with him for the first time two nights before she had last slept with me. It was that week that Jill got pregnant, and as she would later tell me, there was no way to know for sure which one of us was the father.
But there was no question which one of us was a better bet as a romantic partner. Jill had broken things off with me as soon as she and Ted had decided on an exclusive relationship (just before she found out she was pregnant.) Ted was several years older than I was, professionally and emotionally stable, and clearly falling in love with Jill. I was drinking, partying, with some time to go before I’d hit my rock bottom. Jill wanted to be a mom. Ted wanted to be a dad. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. In her mind, these facts settled it: the baby was Ted’s. Or it needed to be Ted’s…
At the Good Men Project and at Jezebel, where the piece was reposted this afternoon my choices — and the choices of a woman I slept with many years ago — are under intense debate. (The only thing I’m regretting at the moment is the pompous phrase “fourteen autumns ago”.) Not surprisingly, the GMP and Jezebel commenting communities don’t always agree.