Ashley was in her bathroom haphazardly getting ready for the baby shower.  She was only partially dressed in a bra and slacks and had heated rollers in her hair.  As she brushed her teeth, she wandered into her living room to scan the layout. Hyped up from her new decision, she continuously walked back and forth between the rooms trying to assess how she would rearrange her one bedroom apartment to accommodate a baby.  It’s going to be a little tight, Ashley decided.  I’ll probably have to get rid of that chair… and that exercise bike will have to go… She heard her phone ring and answered it.
“Hello?” She mumbled with a mouthful of paste.
“Are you ready, I’m about to pull up in front of your building?” Maya yelled over the static of her cell phone. 
“Can you come up?   I’m not quite ready.”
“Ashleee…” Maya groaned. 
“I’ll only be a few minutes, really,” Ashley said then hung up.  She went to the bathroom, rinsed her mouth, then unlocked the front door and left it ajar for Maya. After pulling out some wrapping paper and tape, she sat down on the floor among the gifts.  She gingerly held up each of the tiny outfits admiring them as she arranged them in separate piles on the floor.  Suddenly, an anxious Maya appeared.
“What the hell?! You’re not even dressed. We’re running late”, Maya yelled out.   
“Calm down. I just have to throw on my blouse and comb out my hair.  Help, me wrap the presents”, Ashley asked as she motioned her over.
“You brought all this stuff for Ella’s baby?” 
“No, this one is for Ella’s baby”.  Ashley said holding up the yellow outfit and matching jacket. 
“That is really cute”.  
“This one is for my friend Rene”. Ashley said holding up another outfit. “She’s due in two weeks”.  
“That’s nice too.  Who’s the white one for?” 
“Me”, Ashley answered giddily.  
“Yes, I’m going to have a baby”.
“You’re pregnant?”  Maya asked skeptically.
“Not yet, but soon”. 
Maya rolled her eyes and exhaled.  “Not again”. 
“What?” Ashley answered, slightly annoyed by Maya’s response.
“Are you on that sperm bank crap again?” 
“Don’t even try and talk me out of it, I’ve made up my mind”. 
“I won’t, I’ll just tell your Mama this time”.
“Mind your business, Maya”.  Ashley said firmly.
“You’re being ridiculous and you know it. What is wrong with you?” Maya questioned, baffled by her friend’s parenting plan. 
Ashley stopped wrapping and looked up at Maya. 
“There is nothing wrong with me wanting to be a mother”. 
“There is when you are obsessed about it”. Maya snapped back.  “You’re always talking about it, crying about it, and now you’re buying yourself baby clothes and you’re not even pregnant.  I repeat, you’re being ridiculous”. 
“Whatever, Maya. You don’t get it”. 
“Okay, so let me get this straight, you’re saying that you would rather get sperm from a man you don’t even know, instead of from a man you are having a relationship with. 
“Uh, hello, I tried that, but the only man I have a ongoing relationship with right now is the rental guy at Blockbuster Video.  I’ve had it.  I can’t wait anymore”. 
“Ashley you’re 35, not 55”. 
Ashley got up in a huff and walked over to her coffee table and picked up a magazine.  She flipped through the pages and paused when she found the article she was looking for.  She read it aloud.  “Women over thirty have an increased chance of having a child with a deformity, says Dr. Miller of the Fertility Clinic.”  She handed the magazine to Maya, who quickly scanned the article.  
“It says there is a chance, it’s not a definite”. 
“Sure, but the longer I wait, the more I increase my chances”. 
“Okay, let’s be rational,” Maya reasoned.  “Giving birth to a child with a deformity could happen to any woman, at any age. There are plenty of older women having babies these days.  Look at that chick uh, what’s her name, Geena Davis…there’s also Madonna…and look at Sara Jessica Parker.  All of them were over thirty-five when they gave birth to healthy babies.  I think you’re just trying to find an excuse to validate this ridiculous sperm bank idea. You can’t be serious”.
“Well, I am,” Ashley shot back.
“You know good and well you want to get married to a real, live, human being and have a traditional family.”
“All that would be ideal but time is a wasting.” 
“Ash, have you really thought about how hard that would be?  Being a single mom is not an easy job.”
“I know it’s going to be tough, but I can do it.  And this is the least complicated way I can think of. I’m sure the men at the sperm banks are well screened and it’s anonymous so there won’t be any sticky situations to think about afterwards.
“Personally, I prefer the “sticky” situations, if you know what I mean.”  Maya chuckled.
“Funny, Maya.” 
“Seriously, Ash, Where’s the romance?  Where’s the love?” 
“Been there, done that, didn’t work”.  Ashley answered flatly. 
“So what will you tell your child about its father?”  Maya asked.  “Your dad is tube number 559.  His name is John Doe, he’s 6’0, type O negative, likes water sports!  C’mon, Ashley, do you really want a turkey baster baby?!”  
“Well, that’s just the way it’s going to have to be, Dammit.  I’m tired!” Ashley said irritated. “I’m tired of looking at other people’s kids and feeling bad.” Tired of being the godmother, the auntie, the fucking babysitter.  I’m just fed up.  I want to be a mother.  Not later, right now!” 
“Okay, okay, calm down.  I’m sorry”. “I was just trying to make sure you were thinking this completely through”.  Maya studied Ashley for a moment, a little caught off guard by the emotional edge in her voice.  “Are you okay? You seem really upset.”  
“It’s just everything and this baby shower doesn’t help. Ashley explained letting out a loud sigh. I’m just not happy with the way my life is right now. This week alone I have been bombarded with baby news from friends and both of them are younger than me. It’s ridiculous! I turned thirty-five last month…and look at me.  I have nothing!  No house, no family, no man…It’s pathetic!” 
“It’s not pathetic.” Maya said in a sympathetic tone. “You have been a little uptight since your birthday but that’s normal to start thinking about family and your future.  It will happen, Ash.  I want the same things you do, but we can’t just give up. I don’t think you should settle for something that’s not what you really want.” 
“I’m not settling, this is a perfectly legitimate way to conceive.”
“I still think you should wait.”
“Maya, you’re only thirty, so you still have about a hundred thousand or so eggs left.  I’m lucky if I even have nine or ten good ones at this point.” 
“Ashlee…” Maya chuckled.
“I’m serious, you have more time, I don’t.  Plus, you always have David as your backup to impregnate you when you get good and ready.” 
“Will you cut that out”, Maya said, slightly annoyed, “He is not my backup, he’s just my friend.  Anyway, we both have time.   We’re both attractive young women.  We just have to get out there a little more.  We are not going to find them if we don’t leave the house. You don’t even want to hang out anymore. All you do lately is stay in the house.” 
“I have been “out there”, Maya.  The men in L.A. are idiots. I am tired of the games and the superficial bullshit.  They want someone who looks like Beyonce or Brittany or they want you to act like some love struck groupie because they think they’re a hot commodity.  They take advantage of the fact that there are a ton of women out here to choose from and more than a few who are willing to sacrifice their self-respect for a man. I’m not willing to do that.  Self-respect is the one thing I do have.  I can’t compete, and I’m not going to try anymore.” 
“What are you talking about?  The competition is in your head. Ashley, you’re beautiful, you’re funny, smart…talented. You have to give them a chance, not all men are like that. You need to stop generalizing.  What you need is a more positive attitude.”
    “Thanks, Oprah”.  Ashley responded dryly.
“I’m just saying that sometimes you are a little abrasive.”
Ashley responded with a roll of her eyes.
“I’m serious, at times you walk around with a scowl on your face and a chip on your shoulder and that’s not very inviting.”
“Oh, please,” Ashley said discounting her comment.  
“Like that guy at the gas station the other day”, Maya continued, “he was giving you the eye, but you wanted no part of him.  What did you say again…? Oh yeah, you said ‘he was a pretty boy and probably only liked white women anyway.’   How do you know?  You didn’t even give him a chance.  You break a brother down in your head before he even opens his mouth.”
“No, I don’t”, Ashley shot back. 
“Yes, you do.  You’re judging them just as much as they are judging you.   I’ll admit you’ve had some undesirables in your life but that is not a reason to give up on the entire gender.” 
“What’s the point”? Ashley said, annoyed.  “It always turns out the same way.  I’m tired of the game. I don’t want to play it anymore”.
“Now you know that is just ridiculous.” 
Ashley met her response with silence. 
“All I am saying is before you totally give up on the male species and just settle on their sperm, could you just give them one more try?”  Maya asked.
Ashley gave her more silence. 
“We’ll go out together like we used to.” 
Ashley let out a huge sigh.  
“Please?”  Maya playfully begged.  “For me?”  Ashley cut her a look.  “For your Mama?”  Ashley rolled her eyes.  “For baby April?”  Ashley cracked a smile. 
“Now, that’s low Maya,” Ashley laughed.  “Don’t even bring my pseudo baby into this.  Alright, I’ll think about it, Ashley said, but I’m not saying yes just yet.” 
“Okay, fine, I’ll take that.” Maya replied gleefully.  “Now, please get dressed.  I’ll finish wrapping.”
Ashley scrambled to her bathroom to finish dressing.  After a moment she yelled out from the bathroom.
“Do we really have to go? Why don’t we skip it? I really hate baby showers.” 
“How can you hate baby showers,” Maya asked, “they can be kinda fun.”
“You obviously haven’t been to enough” Ashley hollered.
“Oh, come on, I’m sure it will be fun. Plus, you know Ms. Ella will never let us live it down if we miss her shower.”  Maya yelled back.
“She better not get on my nerves, with her bourgeois self”, Ashley responded.  “Why do we put up with her again?  She can be so annoying.” 
“Because, that’s what friends are for”, Maya said.  “You see how I put up with your crazy ass.” 
Ashley emerged from the bathroom, wearing black flair pants and a fitted white top that accentuated her small waist and shapely figure.  A stone necklace and hoop earrings complemented her outfit. Her freshly done hair was shiny and stylishly coiffed.
“Okay, I’m ready, how do I look?” 
“Ooooh, John Doe number 559 eat your heart out”, Maya joked.
“Shut up, girl, Ashley said laughing, let’s go.”  


                                 "BABY LOVE"

As Ashley prepares for yet another baby shower, the pending event has caused her
to once again, take stock of her personal life.  She's about to share her
decision with her friend, Maya...