Although I had imagined a futuristic white lab, the offices were banally drab, like the casting rooms for a B-Movie production.
Which turns out to be appropriate because when you are shopping for a sperm donor, you are in effect, "casting," searching through a catalogue of candidates and characteristics: race, height, hair color, eye color, ethnic origin, educationeven college major.
We were also told that we could mix the donor's sperm with mine, a combo cocktail if you will, so that if a child was born, only my DNA analyst would know for sure.
What I didn't realize is that choosing a donor creates the temptation to choose someone who so resembles your own characteristics that you might never have to mention that you used donor sperm. My guess is that given the multiplicity of ways children can be born these days (donated sperm, donated egg, combinations of the two), there are a lot of secrets out there.
We selected a college student with good grades, brown hair, and blue eyes. Then, in consultation with Pappy and Dr. Mellow, we used the Chinese menu approach, attempting to inseminate with one from each column: eggs with my sperm, eggs with donor sperm, and eggs scrambled with a combo cocktail.
"Cheers!" we said in nervous anticipation.
But no luck.
I thought of my uncle and aunt Emil and Malva Glucker. They were old world, from Vienna. They were not able to have children, so they lived well and spoiled their nephews and nieces. I have no idea as to the truth of their private lives, but I wondered if a world in which "No" was a possibility was an easier one.
Click here to read the next installment of our series on male infertility.