My First Abortion Party
"Have you guys heard the news?" Maggie (name changed) unwrapped the scarf from around her neck and patted her flat belly. "Preggers." It was around 30 degrees outside, and her cheeks were splashed pink from the Indiana wind.
She had discovered earlier that week, after missing a period and taking the test. "I kind of knew already. My boobs and my lower back have been killing me for a while." She shrugged.
My girlfriend Ali and I exchanged a surprised look. Our forks, dotted with pasta sauce, dangled identically, flaccidly, in our hands. She was quicker than me to gain her composure, and turned to address her best friend.
"What are you going to do?" Unnecessary question, really -- a conversational life vest, used when you’re sputtering for something to say. We knew the answer. Maggie, a 22-year-old college senior with no intention of bringing a child into the world yet, was going to have an abortion. She told us that she had already made up her mind; she had even determined the time, date and location. A better question might have been, "How are you going to pay for it?"
She answered that one before we had a chance to ask. "We’re having a party Friday to raise money," Maggie said. "You guys are obviously invited."
An abortion party. For the price of whatever we were willing to donate, she explained, we could partake of baked goods, beer and dancing. It was going to start at 10 p.m. at Maggie’s.
The Facebook invite came a day later, and it was settled. Ali and I were going to scrape together what donation money we could and join in the festivities.
Before continuing, I should make it clear that I’m no stranger to bizarre, pregnancy-related parties. My junior year of college, I attended a "Welcoming the Baby Kegger" designed to provide love, support and slurred confessions to a friend nearing her delivery date (she drank grape juice). Though I had initially been skeptical, I left this soirée du bébé pleasantly surprised. Everyone had brought gifts, toys, wine and food, which they piled atop a table in her living room. The music was low, and the conversation was great -- an all-around classy affair. I imagined the abortion party might be similar to this: a way to help out a friend who’s made a difficult decision. I was both right and wrong.
Ali and I arrived around 11, only half aware of the irony of being "late" to an abortion party. Walking in, we were bludgeoned with a blast of hot air, followed by the tangy stink of dance floor revelry. Someone had taken a red bed sheet and hung it below a light fixture to resemble a giant womb. Every so often, a dancer’s head or arm or dreadlock would brush against one of its smooth folds, creating a rippling effect. "Let’s Go Crazy" by Prince was playing.
As Ali went off to find Maggie, I sat down and struck up a conversation with Andrew (name changed), the three-year-old son of one of the partygoers. When Andrew and I first met months before, I learned that he’s a very precocious boy when it comes to animals and plants. His father has spent a lot of time teaching him about birdcalls and edible nuts, and he’s always spouting out little nuggets of useful knowledge. Tonight, he had the remnants of some apple-flavored dessert smeared on his mouth and owl pajamas.
Even though I thought the presence of a young child at an abortion party was a little bizarre, nobody else seemed to acknowledge (or care about) this contradiction. Instead, the rest of the guests just took turns fawning over him, exchanging high fives and swooshing him through the air. He, along with everyone else, was having a blast.