My older man, Patrick, had one son, Michael, who, at 22, was the youngest of his three kids. After the positive experience of meeting his oldest daughter, Juliet, I actually looked forward to meeting Michael—I got along really well with Juliet, so I was sure I’d do just as well with Michael. Besides, I always got along better with men than women anyway, and I also thought that at that age, he would be pretty non-judgmental.
Michael worked at Patrick’s family business and saw his dad pretty much every day. They were close and I knew there was nothing Patrick wouldn’t do for him.
We arranged to meet Michael at a Chicago sports bar near Wrigley Field late one Friday afternoon. The place was, of course, packed and loud. There must have been over 100 televisions in there. It definitely wasn’t my kind of place, but definitely Michael’s ideal venue; he was a young man living in one of the trendiest neighborhoods on the north side of Chicago—this was right up his alley.
We walked in and Patrick pointed out Michael at the bar. He was surrounded by his buddies. Patrick introduced me, but it was so loud that I’m not sure he even heard my name. Conversation was impossible and I felt so uncomfortable, as Patrick tried to be “one of the boys” with all his friends there.
Finally, the crowd thinned out a bit and I found myself standing next to Michael. I thought this would be a good time to try and make conversation, but before I could say anything, he turned to me and said, “My dad can’t have any more children, you know. He’s been fixed.”
I was speechless. Then I was hurt and confused. Mind you, Patrick had not heard that remark. I ignored the comment and, instead, asked him where he lived in the city. What I really wanted to ask him was why he didn’t have a girlfriend with him on a Friday night, but I restrained myself. We had already gotten off on the wrong foot.
Michael was a younger—much younger—version of his father: tall and slim with exquisite looks that would only improve with age. His hair was dark and wavy, much like what his dad’s must have looked like years ago.
We had another cocktail over small talk and finally said goodbye. Patrick had had enough of the bar scene, and Michael was going to stay on and meet up with more of his friends later.
Patrick and I walked to the car and talked about where we should stop for dinner. I hadn’t yet decided how I would tell Patrick about the bomb his son had just dropped on me, but it wasn’t long after we had settled into our cozy booth at a popular bistro that I just blurted it out.
Patrick just laughed. I couldn’t be more confused. He then told me that his son was just joking. I said I didn’t think so. And besides, if his son wasn’t trying to sabotage our relationship, why would he even bring it up?
The conversation also got me thinking. I was in my mid-30s and in what was quickly becoming a serious, long-term relationship with a man who would never be the father of my kids. For the first time, I actually felt my biological clock ticking. Almost as if he could sense my uneasiness, Patrick surprised me with a gift: my first Rolex watch. All of a sudden, motherhood was the last thing on my mind.