Let’s bring it back to the year 2009. Three homies finally finished puberty and, more importantly, made it to the final year at Chestnut High School. Malcolm is the oldest. He’s the player of the group. Standing six foot two, captain of the basketball team, and the body of a grown man I guess you can say that he’s had his fair share of the ladies. Almost every cheerleader has had her turn with the all-star. Even some teachers began to flirt with him after his facial hair started growing in giving off grown man vibes. Dom is considered the lover boy of us all. He fucks everything that will allow him in hopes that she is “the one”. Most women would put him in the category of a player, but Dom is different. He takes care of all of his ladies. Everyone gets gifts on their birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas they get nothing. Wouldn’t want anyone to get jealous. Some people call his actions “light skinned”, but his true nationality is Puerto Rican. The curly, long hair and the Spanish language was enough to make any woman swoon. And then there’s me, Aiden. While those two ran through women, I kept relationships. I had a girl in my freshman year, a cheerleader. I ended up letting her go for this fine ass senior that I’ve had my eye on since day one. My cheerleader retaliated by fucking Malcolm, but little did she know that I gave him permission the moment we ended it. After my senior graduated, I left that alone and got with a girl that was a sophomore just like me. She was really down for me, but once the summertime hit, it got boring and we parted ways. We were on and off for the rest of our high school career. The moment we got our acceptance letters to different colleges we parted for the last time. I just wanted my freedom. I was a simple man. When I wanted it, I got it and when I was done, I let her go. Now I was the fine black man who kept a job, the freshest outfits, and played football. Multiple relationships caused too much stress. I stayed busy so that when it was time to be a man after high school, I was ready.
We’ve been friends since the third grade, grew up in the same hood. Malcolm and I were already friends from our parents growing up together. Dom came into the picture one summer afternoon during a pick-up game at the courts. We needed a third and he was just sitting off to the side waiting for us to clear out so he can shoot around. We won against the older kids that day and every weekend after that, so of course we were inseparable after that.
Just like any other knuckleheads, we always got into some trouble, but one thing we were proud of was not becoming fathers before graduating. In our school, there was another growing belly waddling down the hallways almost every month. Star athletes were giving up their scholarships to change diapers and buy baby formula. To me, teen pregnancy became an epidemic and we were taking drastic measures to avoid it at all costs. I’m talking Costco bulk box of condoms at all times. This soldier remained protected at all times. I even broke up with a girl when she hit me with the ‘you don’t need that, I won’t get pregnant’ speech. She clearly had other plans. As for Malc and Dom, they had plenty of close calls, but nothing that would slow them down.
Kids just didn’t fit into my lifestyle. I was an only child myself and had no desire to start a family of my own. I was all about getting money. My mom thought that my mindset would change after graduation, but once I turned 21, the real party began and I never wanted to slow down. The three of us went on countless vacations, met plenty of women, and had too many close calls. One day, during our weekly Sunday breakfast, we decided to put an end to the close calls and make sure that it was guaranteed it wouldn’t happen again.
“Man that girl Erica that I met at the club a few months back is playing games,” said Dom with a mouth full of pancakes.
“Whatchu mean?” I asked.
“She wants a real relationship doesn’t she? I told you she looked crazy bro. I can see it in her eyes,” said Malcom.
“Na it’s worse than that. She trying to say she thinks she’s pregnant.”
“What?” Malcolm and I said in unison.
“See. Crazy!” Malc said.
“Let me finish man damn,” Dom continued, “One minute she says she’s pregnant and the next she’s on her period. Every month she has a scare. See why I don’t do relationships for too long? Look at the bullshit.”
“You wouldn’t have to worry about that if you wore a damn condom bro. Every. Time,” I lectured.
“I do…most of the time. Sometimes shit just happens and I get caught up.”
I shook my head and continued to eat while Malcolm added his input.
“I’m not trying to have any kids with anyone. These girls now just want baby dads and a check. Plus I just want my girl for myself. I’m just selfish like that.”
I nodded in agreement, “Word. I’m an only child and I want to keep it that way. My girl needs to cater to me and only me.”
“Shit, I’m ready to make it so I won’t ever have to worry about a scare or some girl trapping me. I don’t want kids either and if I haven’t changed my mind about that by now, I probably never will.”
“How are you going to do that?” Malcolm asked.
“I’m just saying,” he explained, “After I tell a female that I don’t want any kids, it’s like she works hard to either change my mind or trap me. So I’ll be getting a vasectomy. No one can trap my ass then.”
There was a moment of silence before Malcolm and I burst into laughter. Dom sat there and watched us as we mocked him about getting his balls snipped.
“Man that’s gotta be the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard Dom,” I said and Malcolm nodded his head in agreement. Malcolm’s phone buzzed. It was a girl that he had been seeing on and off for a few months.
“Ayo Ash is trippin,” he said with a nervous laugh, “She’s demanding some kind of commitment from me. Now she’s saying that if she were to get pregnant, the baby would be born into a broken home and that’s not what she would want for it. Who the hell said anything about starting a family with her?”
“She said all of that just because she wants a relationship and will do anything to get one. Y’all have been messing around for some time now bro. She was bound to get attached at some point,” I said.
Malcolm sighed, “I’m in.”
“What?” Dom asked.
“I said I’m in. I don’t want to have to worry about whether she’s trying to trap me or not. I’ll make the decision for all of them. You should too Aiden. You saying you don’t want kids, but condoms break bro. Birth control can fail.”
I laughed at him hoping that he would laugh too because that would mean that he was just joking. He didn’t laugh. He and Dom were staring at me waiting for me to co-sign on the procedure. The waitress brought the check over and asked if there was anything else that she could get us. Dom quickly replied “no” without looking up as if to dismiss her from the table.
“Y’all are joking right?” I asked.
“Come one A, it makes sense and you know it. Look at what keeps happening to us. Shit look what just happened to me. That epidemic didn’t stop at high school. These bitches want babies now and will do anything to get it. Shit, it’s even worse now since we’re all adults and it’s the adult thing to do,” Dom explained.
“This is the non-trapped pact. I’ll get the snip snip now and save me tons of money later. You in or out?”
I took a deep breath. My future flashed before my eyes and all I could see was me and my lady chillin’ on a private beach. We would own a business together and travel the world. I didn’t see a burden of a baby in the mix.
“I’m in,” I said finally.
It was settled. Together, the three of us would enter a doctor’s office for a vasectomy consultation. One week later we would be going in one by one for our procedures and later appeared with ice packs soothing our balls.
Fast forward to today where our 30s are knocking at the door. Things have changed drastically between the three of us. Dom still hasn’t settled down, but his relationships have been longer than usual. What once only lasted a few weeks are now lasting months. I feel like his player days will soon come to an end. Malcolm is now in a long term relationship with a woman named Jacqueline. The athletic build went away and his body began to fill out after a career ending knee injury. He went through depression, anxiety and anger but Jackie was there every step of the way. She was the loudest one in the bleachers and the only one at his side after surgery. After a tough three years, she’s still there. I keep asking him when will he pop the question, but there’s one thing that stands in the way.
“She wants a baby, a family, everything that I can’t give her,” Malcolm told us one morning at breakfast.
“Wait, so you haven’t told her about the procedure?” Dom asked.
“Hell no I didn’t. I was going to, but how do you explain to a woman whose dream is to have a family that I can’t make that happen because of a stupid ass decision I made when I was 21? That would just run her off.”
“Man, just tell her now,” I suggested, “the longer you wait the more it’s going to hurt. Y’all have been through a lot and I’m sure you can get through this too.”
It’s safe to say that he still hasn’t told her. As for me, I’m happily married. I know what you’re thinking, who the hell would marry someone who has tied their reproduction off at a young age to prevent premature fatherhood? Needless to say, I haven’t told my wife either. Call me a hypocrite if you want, but she didn’t ask. In all honesty, I didn’t want to lose her. Jasmine is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She is a natural born hustler. Her mind has always been about business. Jasmine worked hard to become an RN and started her own natural hair care company. We met in college, started out as best friends and later becoming lovers. I proposed to her at graduation and a year later, we exchanged vows. It was the best day of my life. The whole vasectomy thing never came up because we never talked about having children, only marriage a businesses. Becoming successful was our main focus.
In a way I felt that she was too ashamed to say that she didn’t want any children. Women who expressed such feelings were always frowned upon. While she was afraid to say it, I was afraid to tell her that it was never a possibility. If any of our parents brought up the topic of wanting a grandchild, we would laugh nervously and change the subject. Our businesses were our babies. I run my own accounting company while she fulfilled her customers’ orders. Business picked up quickly for the both of us, a baby would’ve just slowed us down.
One day in early July, my wife and I were preparing for our annual 4th of July barbeque. We were the only ones who have a house and backyard to accommodate everyone so we all get together every year to eat, drink, and dance. We work day and night to make it happen. This year, it went a little differently.
Jasmine was upstairs getting ready for the guests to arrive while I was on my way out to make one last liquor store run.
“I’ll be back Jas,” I yelled upstairs.
“Babe wait! She yelled back. Her voice sounded as if she had been crying. She came running to the top of the stairs still wearing my T-shirt that she had worn to bed, eyes filling up with tears.
“What’s wrong? Why aren’t you dressed yet?”
She ran her hands through her thick natural hair and began pacing back and forth.
“Yo Jas you’re scaring me. What’s going-“
“I’m pregnant,” she blurted.
The quiet pause between us lasted at least two minutes. There were so many questions that I had going through my head like how did this happen and if she wanted kids? I’ve never had so many questions about my wife. Two years of marriage and I feel like I don’t even know her.
“Uh,” I said finally without looking at her, “H-how did this happen?”
“Wow Aiden, really? Well, when a mommy and a daddy love each other-.”
“That’s not what I meant. Aren’t you on the pill or something? Do you even want kids?”
“I don’t know. I mean, maybe. I never really thought about it. Do you?”
“I thought you were on the pill Jas.”
“I was, but a pill isn’t a forever thing. Once we got married I got off. I mean we’re married now. It’s ok if you have children after you get married. You don’t look happy at all.”
“Well this is a little unexpected. I thought something like that should be discussed with me before you do it.”
“It’s not like we talked about having children. It seems like a conversation that you like to avoid, so I left the decision up to God.”
“It would’ve been nice to be a part of that decision too.”
I walked out of the house before she could get another word in. I sat in the car trying to figure out how this could happen. I needed answers that Google couldn’t provide. What was I going to tell the boys? Before I could figure it out, Jasmine’s mom pulled into the driveway. I flashed a quick smile and pulled off before she could come to the window. At this moment, I wanted to cancel the barbecue and figure this shit out.
Once I got around the corner, I sent Jas a text telling her that her mother is outside and not to make any announcement until we figure this out. She didn’t respond and that was expected. My reaction was probably the exact opposite of what she expected. It wasn’t her that had a lot of explaining to do, it was me.
After loading up on as much hard liquor that I could find, I returned home where the majority of our guests have arrived. The block was filled with cars and the air carried the scent of fresh grilled burgers. Everything that happened earlier had to be put behind us until tomorrow. The last thing that I looked forward to was questions and congratulations on something I didn’t know how I felt about yet. For six hours, I had to pretend that there wasn’t a baby on the way. For six hours, I had to pretend that I loved my wife.
“Jasmine is pregnant,” I blurted out during a Sunday breakfast with Dom and Malcolm.
It is now October and impossible to hide it anymore. She was already 3 months when we visited the OB/GYN a week after the party and now she has just reached six. I’m still confused about how it happened, but after talking with her doctor the timing all made sense. I wasn’t prepared to give the explanation for my reaction. After hearing the heartbeat for the first time, she became excited and I didn’t want to kill her joy.
“How the hell did that happen?” Dom asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Who’s the father?” asked Malcolm.
“What? I am?”
“Bullshit. Do you not remember your little procedure a few years ago?”
I looked down at my food unable to come to the reality of things.
“It’s mine, ok? She went off of the pill after we got married. Shit happens. I found out the night of the 4th of July barbecue.”
“4th of July?” they asked in unison.
“She’s six months now. By the time we got to a doctor she was already 12 weeks along. It’s impossible to hide it now and with the Thanksgiving dinner coming up I figure I’d give you guys a heads up. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you and that’s why I haven’t had anything at my house. Look I don’t need the negativity so whatever you have to say just wait until I leave. I’m still trying to figure shit out too.”
Dom and Malcolm looked at each other as if to agree to talk about it later.
“So, what now?” Dom asked.
“I’m just asking for support. There’s a boy coming to join the gang. It’s takes a village right?”
They didn’t respond.
“Well,” I continued, “don’t be this awkward at the dinner. I got this under control.”
I rummaged through my wallet for a twenty dollar bill and tossed it on the table. Before they could say anything else, I got up from the table and left them to discuss their judgements behind my back. Anyone in their right mind would safely assume that she had an affair, but bear with me. Her late nights were explained with being at the hospital or hair care meetings. She did it all.
Thanksgiving Day came quicker than expected. Before I knew it we were hustling through the aisles of the grocery store. She fought over the last box of stuffing while I made sure other shoppers kept a safe distance between Jas and the belly. Watching him grow every day helped reality set in. I was becoming excited. Some days I didn’t think nor did I care about how all of this came about. I hadn’t heard from the boys in a while. I reached out to them to make sure they were still coming to the dinner and they assured me that they’d be there with their significant others in tow. The conversation didn’t go much further since they were afraid to push their theories on me. As long as they kept the dinner cordial, their invitation would not be revoked.
Our guests consisted of Jasmine’s best friend, Erica and her husband, James, Malcolm and Jacqueline, and Dom and his girl of the month, Mariah. This dinner has been a tradition with our friends ever since we first got together. We eat, drink, and watch football until we pass out and do breakfast in the morning. Despite their reservations, I refused to cancel the dinner. I could only hope that they are able to hold it together for one night.
Dinner time was scheduled for 4 o’clock, but everyone arrived a few hours early so the women can assist in the kitchen while the men yelled at the TV during the football games. It was business as usual. Once the drinks were flowing, the laughter got louder. At this moment I couldn’t wait to bring my son into this village. This time next year, I will have a son. It all began to sink in.
“Dinner’s ready!” Erica yelled into living room.
“Ok babe. One minute until half time,” her husband responded.
She didn’t say anything back which made him turn around and notice the “you better bring your ass on” look. He got up without another word and encouraged us to follow.
“I’m coming,” Malcolm responded, “In one minute.”
“Well I guess I’m getting first dibs then”
“Do what you gotta do man.”
James walked backward out of the living room in hopes to catch at least one more play before sitting for dinner. We always enjoyed Erica bossing her man around. She definitely wore the pants in that relationship. I’ve had plenty of talks with James to get him to stand up for himself, but he never followed through with it.
Five minutes later we were all seated at the dining room table that looked as if it were set for the rich and famous. From the white fine china, gold utensils, and crystal wine glasses to the red silk table cloth and gold taper candles. My wife loved to go all out for her guests. As per the demand of Erica, James led us into prayer before we all formed a line and plated our food. I served my wife first since she prepared this meal for us all in her very pregnant state. I heard a few chuckles from the guys for doing this, but I know that they would do the same if it were their significant other.
“So Jasmine,” Dom began, “I feel like I haven’t talked to you in a while.”
“Are you excited? You’re about to be a mom.”
“I know. It’s so crazy and a little scary,” she laughed.
She and I sat on opposite ends of the table and I couldn’t help but notice the unsettled reaction to the random question.
“How did you know you were pregnant though?” he continued.
“Dom really,” Malcolm interrupted.
“What? I want to know. I may have kids someday and she’s the only one here to can enlighten me on the experience.”
Malcolm looked at me and I looked at Dom. I felt like he was being malicious, but sometimes Dom is just curious.
“You’ve been drinking too much, man.”
“I’m fine Malcolm just let her answer the question, if you don’t mind Jasmine.”
“Um no it’s ok. I honestly had no idea. I took the test because I was later than usual, but other than that I didn’t throw up or anything. I was tired a lot so I guess that was a symptom,” she answered.
Dom shook his head in satisfaction of her answer. I thought he was done, but I was wrong.
“Were y’all trying to have a baby or something? Because A sure as hell didn’t mention it.”
“Ok, that’s enough,” I said, “Whats with all of the questions? Let it go bro and enjoy the meal.”
I gave him the look of death, but he refused to make eye contact with me. He let out a boisterous laugh and grew silent again. Mariah tried to gain control of him by whispering something in his ear, but all he did was push her away.
“Wait, what’s he trying to say? The baby isn’t Aiden’s?” Erica questioned.
Jasmine shifted uncomfortably in her chair as all eyes were on her.
“That’s not what he’s saying,” Malcolm intervened.
“I didn’t ask you Malcolm. I’m asking Dominique,” she snapped.
Dom hated when people used his real name. He was teased about it so much as a child since it was a “girl name”. Everyone close to him knew not to call him Dominique, including Erica. As soon as the words left her mouth rage filled his eyes. It was dead silence for what seemed like hours before I said, “Look let’s just finish this meal. If you are uncomfortable in any way or can’t keep the peace then you are more than welcome to excuse yourself from our home.”
“It’s just funny, you know,” Dom continued.
“Dom that’s enough man, damn,” said Malcolm.
“No. No! I will not allow someone to play my brother like this.” His words began to slur, but he continued to make his point.
“What the fuck are you talking about? You have some nerve to come in here and drink my liquor and eat my food AND question who my unborn child’s father is. Six months and a few drinks later you have the beer balls to bring all of this up? Get the fuck out of my house Dom. You and your chick of the week.” Jasmine rubbed her belly as the stress caused it to grow tight.
“Chick of the week? Hold up,” Mariah spoke up.
“Yes sweetie. You are not the first girl to come meet the friends and definitely not the last. You will be gone within a week. Did he say he loved you? Because he says that to everyone. Isn’t that right Dominique?” Erica said in her mean girl voice.
Dom winced at her using his full name again. He tightened his fists and banged them against the table causing all of the china to clink.
“Everyone let’s just chill out for a minute. Jasmine, are you ok? Do you want to go upstairs for a minute?” Jacqueline asked.
“No, this is my house. He can leave.”
“Dom, I think you need to go. I’m sure Mariah can drive you,” I said.
He started laughing again. This is a side of him that Malcolm and I have never seen before. Malcolm pulled out his seat and prepared to get Dom out of the room. Dom refused to move out of his seat without making his point clear.
“Fine I’ll leave. But let me make this clear, I know that’s not A’s baby. We all got vasectomies when we were 21. It’s literally im-fucking-possible for you to be pregnant right now. I know he didn’t tell you, but now you know and you can go find you real baby daddy before he’s born.”
Dom downed the remainder of his red wine while Malcolm and I stared at him with our mouths wide open. Malcolm didn’t dare look at Jacqueline and I couldn’t look at Jasmine. Our secret had been revealed in the worst way possible.
“You did what?” Jasmine asked.
“Is this true?” Jackie asked Malc.
“Answer me!” Jasmine yelled.
“Who is the father?” I asked.
Our eyes disconnected and tears began to stream down her face. She shook her head in disbelief.
“What kind of bullshit are you trying to prove Dominique?” Erica began. “You can’t stand the fact that you’re about to lose your little boyfriend to his wife and child. You’re pathetic.”
“Bitch, shut the fuck up!”
Everyone shifted in the direction of James. No one expected him to chime in. He was always the one who stayed out of it.
“Excuse me?” Erica yelled.
“You heard me. Stop trying to cover for her. You two have been talking about who the father is ever since she found out she was pregnant. This shit has nothing to do with you so sit back and shut the fuck up.”
Erica stared at him in disbelief, but did at she was told. For a moment, I was proud of James but quickly became angry because of the withheld information.
“What I tell you,” Dom said to me.
“Is this true?” I asked.
Jasmine looked at everyone around the table. The tears stopped and it looked as if she was relieved. It was like she had been trying to figure out how to tell me all this time.
“Well, I guess it’s obvious now. It’s not like you can have children anyway.”
“Who is it then?”
“Darren. He’s one of the surgeons at my job.”
I shook my head and laughed, “of course it is.”
“Why would you guys do something that stupid? What if I wanted to have kids Malcolm? Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Jackie asked.
“I don’t know, but can we please have this conversation later,” he responded.
Jackie polished off the remainder of her wine and walked out of the room telling him not to follow her because she needed a minute. Mariah followed closely behind her.
“You’re welcome bro. You dodged a bullet,” Dom said patting his back.
I yanked away from him.
“Man what the fuck are you talking about? I never got that stupid procedure done. I went in and I backed out of it at the last minute. I’m not allowing anyone to go near my nuts with a knife.”
“Yeah right Aiden. You had the ice, the prescriptions, and the doctor’s note. Everything.”
“Yeah, because the doctor did me a favor. It was a prescription that had a bunch of nothing written on it. I didn’t want to go through it in the first place, so I never did. This is why I asked you to not say anything.”
Malcolm rested his hands in his head. Dom stared at me in disbelief. The room was silent because one question still remained. Who was the father?