Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Binder Full Men

photo: flickr, Jinx
I saw only the tail end of the Presidential Debate last night, so I missed Romney's comment about "women in binders".  My twitter stream, however, was paying full attention and blew up with quips and comments hash tagged #womeninbinders. Within minutes there were facebook pages and groups, tumblrs, twitter handles and memes. I could write about how fun this collective conversation is, but my friend Tara Hunt has already done that beautifully on her blog post this morning.

I have a different story to tell.

Eleven years ago a friend of mine decided that she couldn't wait any longer to have a baby. She was nearly forty and financially secure. With no volunteer fathers among her friends, she made her way to a bank. A sperm bank. Once there she was presented with binders full of questionnaires completed in handwriting by potential donors. (Incidentally, I also missed Romney's stance on single parents, but I gather from what I've read that he would not approve of my friend - or me, for that matter.)

She tells of sitting in the bank's private room, browsing through the binders, reading the donors' answers, analyzing their words and the curves of the letters, the crosses on T's and the dots on i's. It was like catalog shopping, she said. Choices included men of all races and religions, tall, short, rich, poor, educated and not. She went back several times over the course of six months before finding the "match" that was right for her.

Now my friend has a beautiful, intelligent daughter in the sixth grade at a competitive private music school. She has done an amazing job raising this little girl but, with all seriousness, she credits having chosen the best man from the binder.

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