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OFF CENTRE: Of sperm and special ones


Sherwyn Walters

OFF CENTRE: Of sperm and special ones

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Ninety-nine.
That’s how many children Ed Houben, 44, of Maastricht in The Netherlands, has so far fathered.
Yuh “kidding” me, Wally, you say. I kid you not. Although you could say he kids a lot.
But I have to tell you that you worrying about the wrong thing: it is not so much how many as how.
Light bulb goes off in your head: Sperm donor! Well . . . I’ll keep the cigar.
Yuh see, Mr Houben delivers his “services” up close and personal.
While he did start out as a sperm donor, he now mostly uses traditional means. He offers his er . . . fatherly services to willing females who have not previously been able to get pregnant.
It’s not even friends with benefits. It’s benefits without friendship and with no strings attached.
And it’s not even “Wham bam, thank you ma’am. Just show me the money”. “If you’re a woman desperate to get pregnant, he will give it to you, for free, as many times as it takes,” one report says.
The man actually has sex with nuff, nuff women – at their asking – strictly for the purpose of impregnating them. He received 72 requests between March and April alone.
The women come to him (in this case does it matter if it is with him (LOL)?) from all over the world – Australia, Israel, Canada, Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy, England.
“Nice work if you can get it,” I can hear lots of men saying. No doubt some will check online (yes, he has a website) to get in touch with the “lucky” fellow. In fact, he says he has received offers of assistance from Turkey and Indonesia, but he did not mention Barbados. That may change from today, though.
I suppose, with the third Sunday in June soon here, we may wonder if and how Houben celebrates Father’s Day.
Talking about Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day too), has it ever occurred to you that there is a kink in our thinking – and observance – of these two days?
While clearly intent on celebrating and honouring mothers and fathers, we are coming up a bit short in our appreciation.
When we are celebrating somebody, what do we do? For sure, we talk about them. Check the coverage of people who reach one hundred years old. And those who are retiring. It is about what we have to say about them.
Even when people die, for the sake of the culture, the community, for the sake of reminding even those who knew them, we extol them by painting verbal pictures of them.
But Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are not overflowingly about our personally expressed valuing of the respective parent.
Yet we want to give the impression that they are so cherished.
The media, sad to say, are to some extent culprits in this. The biggest features are mothers talking about motherhood and fathers talking about fatherhood.
That shows that this man and that woman value being parents, but where are those who are “telling the world” why – in caring, non-generic words and details – they cherish these folks?
I know you will tell me that we have songs and postcards and luncheons and shows, but in the realm of actual personal expression in the public domain, where are the real voices of the appreciators?
Why, so often, are supposed appreciations of fathers and mothers essentially their self-portraits?
And another thing, you ever notice that in most cases when a mother or a father is featured, the partner is not prominently participating in the extolling?
Wait, how yuh does get to be a mother or a father? Although we have Mr Houben and sperm banks and rape, 99.9 per cent of mothers and fathers get to be so by the consensual ins and outs of a relationship with a human being of the opposite sex.
So any meaningful celebration of mother or father must be through deep expressions and portraying coming not only from children but, if at all appropriate, from the other parent too. My delighting in my wife is to a significant extent a deep prizing of her as the mother of our children.
In my article Stifling Of The Personal (February 11) I lamented our failure to let our schoolchildren mostly write what they “ache with caring” about.
Well, the broader culture, too, evidences a dangerous silence – a lack of personal articulation – about our emotional, experiential lives. Including about mothers and fathers, except in eulogies or when they reach a hundred or if they abused us.
And then we wonder why family scarcely entered the picture as people talked all around the “get babies” issue a few weeks ago.
And then we wonder why so many people in our society walk alone – although family is almost certainly no more than 21 miles away.
We have to put the children’s and partners’ precious scent of mothers and fathers (and, more broadly, family) into the air so that these important ones can truly feel deep pleasure and, if necessary, be invigorated and refreshed – and so that the rest can breathe it in for communal benefit.
Our appreciation has to be more than a bathing in the “feting” of the day or in vague, shallow or clichéd expressions of “celebration”.
Of course, our actions count too. But we must also suffuse the culture with sentiments of genuine, infectious soul-connection to these dear ones.  
We got to richly promote family.
• Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor.

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