I'm different. I'm a gay. And I'm a husband. And I am a dad of future twin girl presidents, Rose and Evan. Yes, Evan is the name of my daughter and Evan is also typically a boys name. But that's very now. All the kids with kids are doing it. Go to the park. Call out the name Charlie or Billy. See who looks up. It will surprise you. But that has nothing to do with anything. You should just know.
In preparation for Air Force One travel, we took the girls on their first trip to New York City for the long weekend. Grandma and Grandpa wanted to show off their five month old granddaughters to everyone at their country club on Long Island. Organization and preparation are your friends when you're moving the future leaders of the free world across the United States. But when you get right down to it, you're just a roadie. You're a roadie for a baby. You carry everything this person could possibly want or need on your body at all times. There's really nothing you can't deliver at a moments notice.
No, problem, I've got a cashmere sweater right here the size of a bagel. Fits great. You look great.
How about a stuffed three-eyed guy with a feather for hair? He's in my back pocket. I'll even add a voice when I show him to you.
Okay, You wanna bounce?
Not a problem.
"Oh, you'd prefer my knuckle to suck on?"
It's yours. And thank you for spitting up on me. I hate this jacket anyway.
Truth is, they weren't bad. They were great. I've been told it's a lot harder getting Beyonce to Manhattan.
But I digress, that's not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the underlying responsibility of being a gay dad. We're trying so hard to fit in. We're trying to get married and share insurance policies and we're trying to go on typical family vacations to see Grandma and Grandpa. I even did my best to describe the normal madness of traveling with small ones. But there's nothing normal about turning the car around when you're half way to the airport because you forgot your daughters birth certificate. That's right. Having Rose and Evan's original, authenticated birth certificate was the other thing this baby roadie had to have on his person. It mattered as much as infant Zantac and warm hats and clean diapers. Keep in mind, we were two men traveling with two little girls. If you look at it with a crooked eye you can make yourself see things. Can you imagine if you had to deal with indignity of having to explain your family? Even worse, proving that your biological daughter was yours?
So this is what really happened.
I stood shoeless in front of the metal detector. Rose was in my arms. Her mouth open just a tiny bit and her eyes as wide as they've ever been in her hundred and thirty five days of life. Behind me was my husband. He held Evan. (Evan is also girl. See first paragraph).
The TSA guard said it like he was talking to a prisoner. I did as I was told. My husband followed. He held a baby in one arm and four business class tickets in the other. The guard looked at the tickets, then looked at us, then looked at the tickets.
She is. I'm Max, this is Erik and that's Evan. Rose's sister.
"Evan's a girl?"
Yeah. All the kids with kids are doing it.
A moment of silence. Rage started to well up inside of me in anticipation of the next question this giant with a badge was going to ask me. How was this man going to insult my family? In what way would he make me explain my difference?
This is what he said:
"Where did you get them?"
"Where did you get your kids?"
Don't get me wrong. It's a hideously offensive question, but implicit in what he was saying was the fact that we were the dads and they were our daughters. Progress! Progress from a moron. But progress nonetheless. I was feeling some love for the TSA Giant.
I made them.
This threw him, but I had his attention. And there in the middle of LAX with a line snaking to the front door of the airport I began to explain Gestational Surrogacy.
There's a donor. She gives us the eggs. We never meet her. She is not the "mom".
There is no mom. There's a surrogate. She's the oven. (Giants prefer short sentences with small words). My husband and I (the Giant winced) fertilized four eggs. They went inside the surrogate. Two of the eggs took. Fraternal twins were born 8 months and two weeks later. One of them was biologically his. One of them was biologically mine. But they're both ours, you know?
"You can do that?"
You can, Giant.
He wanted to ask more and I wanted to tell him more. But alas a plane trip was waiting with loving grandparents at the other end.
So back to the responsibility of being a gay father. It turns out the key is the same as it would be if I were a straight father. It's about patience. Showing patience in every way to everyone. I'm different, but not really.