do you want to buy my African baby? by Cory Haas

December 1st, 2012 is a date I will forever remember. It’s not because that night was the night I met someone that I will forever call a best friend. You’d think a life altering meeting would be the cause for such remembrance, but no, oddly enough the reason I come back to 1/12/2012 has nothing to do with that encounter. 

There are few moments that happen in one’s life where you suddenly register that those specific memories will stay etched in your brain, and will become the coveted subject matter of many dinner party conversations. For years to come. Not annoying dinner party conversations mind you. Not the ones that revolve around the weather, or Grandpa Bo’s mild racism against Syrian refugees (‘They are just looking to steal our jobs’, you’re drunk Grandpa, go home), or wether auntie Kim’s new ShamWow order is doing the trick. On a side note though, have you tried those things? Wow. You shouldn’t beat up prostitutes, of course not, but good thing he had his own product to clean up the blood. 

No, it’s the type of dinner party conversation that you just can’t wait to whip out in order to be the centre of attention. Be careful though, too many of those and you become known as the anecdote master guy and will soon be requested to MC your cousin’s Game of Thrones themed wedding. Another story for another time. 

So anyways, the date is important to me because on that chilly fall (who are we kidding? December is winter) scratch that, winter night, a blue-vested associate of an organisation called Plan Canada, jogged with me for 12 blocks (I was late seeing a show), attempting to, let me put it as plainly as it sounded to me, sell me an African baby. I say African but at that point it could have been South American, Asian or a number of different ethnicities. He wasn’t discriminating and I wasn’t really listening. I was mostly trying to keep my sweat levels to a minimum and make it for curtain. 

I did make it to the theatre on time. The performance was good; not great, not horrible. Here’s how I can judge that the quality of a show is mediocre: I remember the title but I’m not involved enough to remember the story a day later.  It was the case with this show. Instead, I kept replaying the scene that had happened 24 hours before. I kept wondering if I had made the right choice not to stop. Sure, I had seen those people in the street before but this one invited and invested himself in my life. Sure, you engage with the same barista every day but that doesn’t mean you have to invite him or her over to Sloppy Saturday Sleepover night. There are boundaries in this world. The Plan Canada guy even participated in physical activity. Like, how could I be sure that I had not just shifted the rotation of the earth and the alignments of the planets by not stopping and talking to that person? How could I be sure that the karma gods wouldn't be out soon to get me? I am not a big believer in karma but I also didn’t think it was possible to acquire a baby, in less time than it takes you to renew a driver’s license at the department of motor vehicles. 

The employee of Plan Canada, I am going to call him ‘Lowell’, did not looked particularly peeved that I blew him off. I say employee but I don’t really know if Lowell is paid to do it or if he does it as some sort of Mormon missionary duty. I can’t say that any Plan Canada person has ever come to my door with outfits that, on Halloween, would be Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, in Men In Black. They most certainly did not have pamphlets about Joseph Smith. No, the nonchalance of the situation seemed fairly average, as if that was the normal reaction Lowell got from people he stalked on the street. I guess stalked isn’t the right word because I did let him join me on my semi-marathon, an opportunity I reserve for no one, only because I start grunting like Serena Williams on the WTP tour. 

You’d think if you got rejected so frequently and sometimes have to burn calories in the process, you would change your marketing philosophy or plan of attack - maybe a 2 for 1 deal on Wednesdays, or 50% off the second baby during happy hour. Look at Fresh Slice, Tuesday’s are like Christmas day for some people. College students and stoners to be precise. But the fact of the matter is, they will scarf that pizza down instead of hitting up their dealer. Maybe I am all wrong, maybe discounts aren’t the way to go, I never really did understand statistics in high school. I don’t remember ever seeing a class called: “ Stats and analysis in offspring acquisition”

All of these different thoughts and questions kept popping up in my mind long after the show was over. My ignorance kept placing me in the lineup of a Subway sandwich shop. Sure, you choose the bun and that’s fairly easy. You got Italian, Herbs and Cheese, and Monterey cheddar, but Honey Oats is what the heart wants (and that is fine because you have hot yoga at 6). The hard part is deciding on which toppings to choose from. Height, eye color, skin color; those, I assume, are sort of the basics. You can’t stop there though, some people are really peculiar at Subway. I can’t imagine it being any different when picking out a child. I think I would want him to have a developed sense of humour and an affinity for repartee. You know, green peppers and light onions. He would also have to be an athlete. OR SHE! That’s like pretty important too right? Look back on the last time your sandwich artist asked: ‘Mayo or Mustard?’ Now think about, objectively, how long it took you to make that decision. Major career decisions of mine have taken less time than that. 

A few other thoughts: Could you get them older? I don’t know how well I would fair at explaining things like masturbation or periods, other than by using the terms ‘fun pee-pee playing time’ and ‘vagina blood’. Which organisation do you go for? I don’t want to pick favorites but I like my coffee at Starbucks and my bagels at Tim Hortons. It becomes a little difficult when you have to pick a human being. You start feeling guilty after awhile and then faster than you can say ‘Brandgelina’, you end up with a Brady Bunch of your own. Do you receive a special code that links you back to the history of the child you take on? I have a sweater that’s given me all of the important info on the sheep who’s wool was used to create the piece of clothing. “Leonard, sheep #Z-A431453, Australian”. See? All of the info. My sheep is clearly a convict. If I could skip all of that, that would be great.

Look at me, being very precise already, I haven’t even stopped and talked to Lowell yet, maybe they’re out of stock? 

It’s been over three years and I keep replaying this scenario over and over and over again. I don’t really know what to do about it. I don’t think I am ready to take it on. 

Ironically enough, three years is also the length of time between now and my last Subway sandwich.