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2008-09-04 - 2:07 p.m.

So I was reading about the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican woman from Alaska, how she's getting married to her boyfriend, and so I thought about the girl I first got naked with. We were both 18, like these kids. They say they're getting married.

Right before the end, we thought she was pregnant. We were pretty sure. She was five, six days late. We didn't use condoms, but we did the other method. We weren't totally surprised.

On about day four, a weekend night, I got a ride to a friend's house up in Towson. I had no car, so when we got too drunk to drive, I crashed in his parents' spare bedroom. We got stoned, and even then my brain was having a hard time shutting of while under the influence of that drug, and so I lay in my friend's sister's bed, staring at the ceiling, worrying, until four in the morning. I'd decided, months before, that I didn't love this girl. I knew it, and was waiting until the end of the semester to end it, when she told me she was late and that maybe she was pregnant. For some reason that's lost to me now, I was reasonably sure she wouldn't get an abortion. So I lay awake thinking of the school I'd never finish, the books I'd never read (or maybe write), the fishing trips I couldn't take now because this girl who might be pregnant with my baby didn't really like anything except the Orioles and shopping malls. I pictured telling my dad, Well, I got this girl pregnant and now I have to get a job in the suburbs. And my dad shaking his head and my mom crying alone tears about all the stuff she hoped I'd do. And about how I had to be stupid and get laid and ruin it.

It's all melodramatic now and a little self-centered and silly and of course we found out two days later she wasn't pregnant and I still broke up with her about ten days after that because I was a big fat jerk. But I can't help thinking about how all it took was one time, and wham, one missed period and, wham, I'd have been a nineteen-year-old dad married or something close to a nineteen-year-old red-haired girl from the suburbs, a girl I was already, after six months, seeing very clearly that I Was Not Destined For. I know that near-pregnancies are as old as people and that none of this is much new, but the stuff that's happened to me from age 19 to right now is something new, for me. And, sometimes, I think: well, what if?

But that's just sometimes I think that way. The rest of the time, I say, shooo. That was close.

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