He stood in front of the mirror with his arms raised straight above his head. His fists were clenched, arm muscles tensed.
“I AM IMPOTENT, I AM IMPOTENT, I AM IMPOTENT,” he asserted.
It was a daily ritual. He felt powerful when he said it. After precisely twenty repetitions, he unclenched his fists and relaxed, taking a full breath that made his six-pack swell. He turned, found his clothes and got dressed.
Lightly padding down the stairs, he met his wife in the kitchen. “Good morning, Siobhan.” She responded by handing him a cup of coffee with a smile.
“Don’t forget our doctor’s appointment today at ten.”
He tried to sound encouraging. “We’re honing in on a solution.”
“Homing,” she corrected and rewarded his encouragement with a gentle kiss on his right cheek.
They wanted nothing more than to have a baby. Two years into their marriage they decided there was never a right time, so now might as well be it. It had been 18 months, 6 of them with thermometers, hormone sticks, charts and doctors. No luck.
Maybe today will be the day we finally get answers, he thought. He packed his metal lunchbox and pulled on his overalls that still had grease from the previous work day. His wife squeezed past him, lecture notes in hand, ready to greet the students on their first day. It was her favourite course to teach—Creative Writing 101.
The alarm sounded. Six-thirty a.m. sharp. He jumped out of bed, pulled down his boxers, and tossed them in the laundry bin on the way to the shower. By 6:32, he was already in the second verse of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Siobhan giggled and thanked the universe that she only had classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. She ran her fingers through her hair pulled up her nightgown and shifted her body on to her side, showing off her slim hips and legs. But then she heard him:
“I AM IMPOTENT, I AM IMPOTENT, I AM IMPOTENT.” She listened more closely. “I AM IMPOTENT…”
Her initial reaction was heart break. What makes him think it is his fault?
Then realization overcame her. Her mind corrected her. She pushed open the door and saw him standing there in what Regina Dugan described as the “power position” in her Ted Talk. Over a year ago, her friend had given her tickets to watch it live.
Unintentionally, she took her own power position, hands on her hips. She looked directly at him and said, “It’s COMPETENT Marcello, COMPETENT.”
Six months later… the alarm went off. Six-thirty a.m. exactly. By 6:32, she could hear him singing again, this time it was Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely.” Siobhan rolled over taking the only other position she could sleep in. It was an effort now to move in bed. Readjusting the pillows, she placed her hands on her belly and smiled. Simultaneously, Marcello smiled too, just before spreading his feet and putting his fists in the air.