Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meeting the (Sperm) Bank Manager

I called the bank at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and the bank manager (BM) gave me an appointment - easy as that. Except that it was five weeks away! I was devastated. "Nothing earlier?" I asked. "No." Short and abrupt - I was scared of this woman already.

My appointment came round at the end of January 2005 and I went to see the BM. She looked just like her telephone manner - short, angular and stern. She took me into a room and we sat down. Then she smiled and offered me coffee and everything was ok.

It was like going to see a match-maker except, once I'd made the decision about which man to take, we didn't have to meet and I didn't have to like the reality of him. And of course he didn't have to agree - which has been the downfall of many of my relationships.

So it all rested on the BM's description. She is a very clever woman. She very quickly established what I wanted to hear, made her decision about the best match, and then described him in a way that she knew would appeal to me. It was very straightforward. She chose and I agreed. I was no trouble at all.

"What is important to you?" she asked. I wanted someone with a Mizrachi background, I told her. I was refering to Jews of North African decent.
"Because I have dark skin even though I am Ashkenazi (of European decent) and I want there to be more chance that the child will look like me. Also dark skin is healthier in a hot climate. And, I think a mixture of genes is also less likely to cause genetic problems."
"Any other reasons?"
"Yes, children of mixed race are often very beautiful."
"So what should he look like?"
"Well he shouldn't be ugly. The dark skin I mentioned already. And it would be nice if he had a slim gene as I've always had to watch my weight."
"He doesn't have to be a genius but he must have the basic level of high-school matriculation. I think most children can be educated even without a genius gene."

The BM thought for a moment. "I've got someone who I think would be perfect. He's tall, slim and he's got straight hair." I smiled to myself - she assumed I wasn't satisfied with my thick curls. Of course she was right. All curly heads secretly crave the sleek sophistication of straight hair.

"He's a real gentleman." She'd hit my soft spot. She'd sussed out that the English woman wanted a gentleman. Not rocket science but nevertheless quite astute I thought.

Then she told me his chosen profession - to show me that he wasn't a dropout or a waster. I was happy with the career choice - neither a doctor nor a professor but acedemic enough for me. BM thought she ought to mention another candidate - I was supposed to be making a choice after all.

"There is someone else," she said, almost to herself. "He's from India and he's very dark. I think he's too dark for you." In any other context this would be a racist remark but we were all about matching skin tones not finding a soul-mate.

So that was decided then. I was to call her a week before I was ready for the sperm. "Any questions?"
"Just one. Why do they do it? The donors, I mean"
I wanted to believe that they needed the money to pay for their university studies (most of the donors are students) but money can be used for anything. It was a fair reason.

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