Brother From Another Father

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By now you’ve probably already seen the news story about the New Jersey woman
who gave birth to twins with different fathers
. It’s a phenomenon called heteropaternal superfecundation, a phrase which will surely impress the guests at your next cocktail party, if only you can find a way to work it into the conversation. Anyway, it happens when a woman releases two eggs during ovulation and then a different man fertilizes each egg. An uncommon event, perhaps, but not unpossible.

Of course, in order for heteropaternal superfecundation to occur, you need a confluence of events: failure of birth control, two ovum, and willing guys. Put this way, it doesn’t seem too difficult to achieve and I’ve got to wonder why it doesn’t happen more often (and perhaps it does). Birth control fails, as any parish priest will tell you (6% of the time, on average). Twins account for 3.37% of live births in the U.S., so that’s very doable, as well. And willing guys? I expect that percentage hovers around 100.

Unlike New Jersey Mom, my dance card only ever held one name at a time, with the single exception of a brief period where I dated two guys who were both named John. I don’t think I could have pulled it off otherwise, say if one was named Kevin and the other one named Doug.

As so often happens in dating, the one I really liked–to avoid confusion, let’s call him The John I Really Liked–didn’t like me as much as I liked him. We hung out at the student café for weeks before he ever asked me out and then we went to dinner that one night and to the movies another night. I spent more time waiting around for him to call than I ever spent being with him.

And, as so often happens, The John I Didn’t Like So Much liked me more than I liked him. He bought me flowers (a handful of not-quite-dead-yet daisies he picked up at a convenience store) and planned a picnic in a park that included the foresight to bring both a corkscrew and bug spray, but inadvertently excluded wine and a blanket. We ate very dry crackers and cheese in the grass and every so often squirted passing ants with Off! A week later, he named one of the rats he took care of in the biology lab after me.

One night, as we strolled around campus together, he asked me if I wanted to visit his work-study job. I figured, why not? I’d never been inside the Biological Sciences Building, even though I’d taken Biology for Dummies Biology for Non-Science Majors. That class was held in the basement of the Performing Arts Center,  in case any of us liberal arts majors needed to break out in song or recite poetry while learning about how cells grow, develop, and reproduce.

With The John I Didn’t Like So Much as my guide, I found my way across campus to the science building. He unlocked one of the laboratories with a key from his shirt pocket. Inside, he showed me a bunch of test tubes and petri dishes, a slide he prepared and then invited me to look at under a microscope, and, lastly, a row of metal cages that held a series of white rats. He pointed at one scurrying around its cage and called it by name: “Karen.”

I considered this dubious distinction for a moment before my brain returned to brood over the question that had preoccupied me most of the evening.

What was The John I Really Liked doing on this Saturday night?

Karen, the voyeur rat

Karen, the voyeur rat, is watching what you’re doing with that guy you don’t even really like that much.

As I tortured myself with the possibilities (I’d seen him talking to another girl outside the library the day before), The John I Didn’t Like So Much made his move. He pressed me up against the far wall of the room, my back uncomfortable against a row of clipboards that hung there, and we made out, in full view of Karen The Rat, among the reams of data the biology students collected. I responded, not so much because I liked The John I Didn’t Like So Much, but because I was thinking about The John I Really Liked.

So I’ve got to wonder about our New Jersey Mom, the one with the twins that have three parents. Do you think she was thinking about Guy #1 when she was with Guy #2? Or was she just killing time with Guy #1 while she waited for Guy #2 to call?

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15 thoughts on “Brother From Another Father

  1. Karen says:

    Like all cynics, I remain a romantic deep down inside my frosty soul, and imagine there must be some wrenching heartache that precipitated giving birth to twins with different fathers.


    • Karen says:

      I’d rather not consider the fate of Karen the Rat, but if I must, I’ll assume she was eventually dissected after being forced to ingest too much Red Dye #4 or whatever potentially carcinogenic substance they put in our food.

      Which, now that I think about it, is sort of like living in New Jersey.

      Liked by 1 person

      • balletandboxing says:

        I hope that as a token of John You Didn’t Like So Much’s affection for you, he released Karen The Rat into the wild, and she celebrated by having multiple guy rats party with her. In Jersey.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Allie P. says:

    I don’t know that I would ever admit that the kids might have different fathers. I’d be more inclined to say, oh, instead of taking after your dad, you resemble your great, great, great grandfather’s cousin. Sorry, we lost all pictures of him in the war (pick one), but trust me, you are the spitting image of him, except for your elbow. Yes, you have your dad’s elbow for sure.

    But I am more concerned about John’s decision to name a lab rat after you. They don’t tend to make it out the same way they got in. Was he whispering it sweet nothings as he trapped it in a maze? That’s a little twisted.

    And why, why, why would they have sciences taught in the performing arts center? It defies logic. I am all sorts of troubled by this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      Naming the rat after me was a joke, but it makes a much better story to pretend he was serious about it. 😉

      The Science for Dummies class even had a lab attached to it, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what we did for that component of the course. Maybe we grew a plant in the window or something and tracked it’s height. I don’t remember, but it was a requirement for graduation, so we all had to endure it. It did seem as though the school administration wanted to corral all us liberal arts majors over on North Campus. Maybe they thought our presence would contaminate the real experiments that were being conducted on the south side? Probably no greater conspiracy than convenience . . .

      Regarding questions of paternity–I should blog more about it, because it’s such a fascinating legal and social issue (at least, I think so). Anyway, in this case with our New Jersey mom, she was unaware that the twins had different dads, and she discovered the fact only when a DNA test, as part of legal proceedings, revealed the truth.


  3. Claire Duffy says:

    I can barely be bothered to keep up with one bloke at a time; definitely entirely too lazy to bother with two. How could you be sure that they had different fathers? Unless we’re talking different races, don’t all newborns all look alike? (and like alien old men, mostly?)


    • Karen says:

      They had to be sure because the Mom applied for government benefits, necessitating the paternity tests, which revealed that one of the Dads could not be the father of the other twin.

      I know–just thinking about this as I typed out that reply exhausted me. I can’t imagine having lived it. 😉


  4. markbialczak says:

    Nature being what it is, there may have been a rat watching the whole affair jealous that it had not been chosen as the privileged named furry, and college being what it was, the John You Didn’t Really Like definitely was thinking of the head cheerleader he was too afraid to get within 200 feet of while he was making out with you. As for the two-spermed mom, Karen, I have no clue.

    Liked by 1 person

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