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And you'd always know where to find him in case you needed anything later on. But when I'd point out how a happy family might be beyond our reach but a child wasn't — she'd reluctantly agree. "I'm sorry," she said, starting to zipper herself before changing her mind again. At first, my older sister, Lynn, was entertained by such displays of my passionate aunthood. Pushing the stroller through the park, taking her for a ride in the family Jeep, dragging her kicking and screaming through the supermarket when she should have been eating or napping, I'd beam at passersby with the pride and bliss of a new mother."She's got her father's temperament," I'd say, and shrug blamelessly. My brother-in-law always gets cranky when he's hungry and tired. A pair of platform sneakers and a pair of fuzzy Cat in the Hat slippers wrapped inside their Payless boxes. Lynn came up first while Paul parked the car with Nicole."I have to pee this minute or I'm going to explode," she said, the desperation rising in her voice.

Giving birth to a baby covered in a fuzzy down of yellow feathers would be a small price to pay for such exemplary paternal qualities. She would cite his trademark song as evidence of his superior genes: I love you. Then she'd confess the true reason for her preference: She liked purple better than yellow. "I haven't worn these pants in months, but they're still tight. Then, as the first year passed and moved into the second, and Nicole — "the Pickle" — became more and more of an animal, Lynn began to really latch on to the idea."You can have her," she'd say, staring at the floor where the screeching wailing flailing fit-throwing beast-in-a-diaper had thrown herself down in protest over an enforced nap. It was the Pickle who first opened the door to the possibilities of Big Bird as a husband and father and made me wonder whether I should, in my next relationship (if I ever had a next relationship), consider going against type (tall, dark, and withholding) in favor of something new and different (yellow, feathered, and friendly). "I'm starting to think I should wear those adult diapers because I never get to go." She gave me a quick peck on the cheek before dropping the pile of bedding and clothing and Barbie dolls and teddy bears that she'd brought up from the car on the couch in the living room. " I pointed behind her to the little hallway on the opposite end of the little foyer. The discussion topics inside are intended to enhance your reading of Laura Zigman's Dating Big Bird.1. What are the most important reasons that Ellen and Amy want to have children?

""Has used the word ' Oriental' or phrase ' East-meets-West' in actual unironic conversation.""Was one of those guys who wore suits to class presentations.""Has a tattoo of a Japanese character, thinks it says 'freedom,' actually says 'soap.'""On the Road has never actually done drugs.""I actually think there is something kind of cute and earnest about liking this book.""But in sort of a puppy-dog way.""Constantly misses the point.""IDK to me this is the exact same guy who also lists Into the Wild.""The Great Gatsby describes his exes all as 'crazy' and doesn't know the historical context of the word 'hysteria.'""Not as bad as Catcher.""I think I might actually like boys who at least admit they liked books from high school.""Depends on whether or not they see Gatsby as a tragedy.""Ugh he probably wants to go to the Jazz Age Lawn Party tho.""The Fountainhead cheered for Hobby Lobby.""*pulls panties back up*""But — and maybe I'm wrong here — but maybe he's good in bed? ""The worst way.""Wouldn't get there to find out.""Hate-gasm." "Ulysses has a weird special language for you and you alone." "I like this guy.""Sweaters with elbow patches.""I will borrow his Warby Parkers.""Self-deprecating in a charming way.""Curls into his own body when nude.""Where the Wild Things Are really loves his mom and also puts that in the profile.""???????????????????????????? But he is delightful.""Does he identify as Slytherin?""His 'You should message me if' section probably says ' You love to laugh! That changes things.""I think Slytherins are sexy as fuck." "The Road will judge you for liking fun things like The Bachelorette.""Drinks whiskey.""Doesn't use adjectives.Telling people you want to have kids when you're not married doesn't exactly go over like The Red Balloon. I thought eight hours in the car might stretch them out, but clearly I was wrong." It's not that I found Big Bird particularly attractive, it's just that I thought he would make a good parent. Parent implied an extended relationship I wasn't necessarily banking on. But each display of histrionics only made me covet her more. She and Lynn and my brother-in-law Paul had driven down from Maine to New York that Labor Day weekend for a wedding at the Waldorf, and the Saturday afternoon before the ceremony they brought her downtown to my apartment on West Thirteenth Street for her sleepover. She headed toward the foyer, stopped short, then turned back to me in confusion. "It's that way."I followed her — forever the younger sister, trailing behind — to the bathroom door, which she left partially open. In fact, I wonder if I can still pee when no one's watching me. And then it would dawn on me."A stroller.""I see," she'd say, doubling over and slapping her leg. Why does Ellen take so long to come to a decision about single motherhood? How much of it has to do with what they want, as opposed to what society tells them they should be? Will Ellen's decision to raise a baby on her own make her a more committed mother because she is overcoming additional obstacles? What does Malcolm's pain and loss after his son's death tell us about the emotional price of parenthood? Why does Ellen put up with Malcolm's inability to be intimate with her for so long? Ellen makes assumptions about Karen's ability to be a good mother, based on Karen's personality and work routine. What, in the long run, would make her happier — a baby within an ambiguous marriage, or a baby by herself? What is it about Ellen's relationship with "The Pickle" (her niece Nicole) that is so satisfying? It's not like everyone you know — parents, married friends, single friends, boyfriends — will be waiting in your own personal receiving line after some wedding or baby shower to congratulate you on having a few too many vodka martinis and transforming yourself into their vision of the living breathing female cliche. For once, you're not bemoaning your unmarried barren state. Not that I wouldn't have wanted an extended relationship. I was thirty-five, after all, and by then I knew the difference between expectation and desire; between love and lust; between boyfriends and fathers. Contemplating impregnation by an eight-foot yellow bird is just one example of how carried away you can get when you want a child as much as I did. I'd spent weeks preparing for our big night together, and before they all arrived, I checked my weekend inventory one last time. I heard the seat cover go up, then a sigh of relief."You can come in," she said through the open door. I've probably developed some pathological need to go to the bathroom in front of people."When she'd finished flushing and washing her hands, she came back out. "So you're still planning on reproducing asexually."For a while, I wasn't planning on reproducing at all. What is she getting out of the relationship instead? How do Ellen and Amy's views of parenthood compare to your own? What does this say about Ellen's perceptions of motherhood? Should Ellen find other things to fulfill her while she's trying to decide about becoming a mother — or does her research fill some of that void? Is it because she isn't a mother herself that she feels so much for The Pickle — or not? How do Ellen's reflections on motherhood affect her relationship with her own parents?

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