I had always considered myself pretty lucky. This was all to change in the summer of 1995.
It was labour day weekend. I was in New York at my cousin’s wedding. I said to myself, “I am going to make this a wedding to remember.”
For me, weddings are a real treat. I get to drink to my heart’s content and make an ass of myself in front of my family.
I met a teacher named Susan.
Well this is where the story becomes unclear. I guess the gin and tonics caught up with me because the rest of the night was a blur. I don’t fancy myself a ladies man. But that night, I was told, I was a ladies man.
The next morning I woke up with a ‘Hang0verMaximus.’ I did not realize what had happened. Moving slowly, I made my way down to the car to head back to Canada. I thought, “never again will I do this.”
Twelve weeks later, I was alone house sitting for my sister. I had just got in from work when the phone rang. “Yellow,” I answered. “Hello Simmon, it’s Susan,” I heard a trembling voice squeak out. With my mind frantically racing, “Susan… Susan who?” I inquired. “Susan from… New York,” I heard in sheer terror. “Hey Susan, how are ya,” I asked. “I’m… pregnant,” she bluntly replied. “Congratulations,” I said, trying to sound supportive. “Who’s the lucky guy?” I hear “Umm… you are.”
I had never been rocked like this. I can’t imagine any other words that can suck the youth from someone more than those that shot through my ears. These words meant the end of life as I knew it.
After about a few seconds of silence which felt like an eternity, I asked, “Are you sure?” hoping she just started gaining weight and made up this excuse. “Yes, I am pretty sure!” she barked back. “No, what I meant is… are you sure it’s mine, ‘cause I don’t honestly remember what happened that night,” I replied. “You were the only one I was with,” she said in a defensive voice. Again the awkward silence deafened my ears till finally she said, “I’ll be in Toronto to go to the Vanier Cup, why don’t we meet?” Against my gut I agreed to meet her.
A couple of thoughts enter my head. First, why did she wait so long to tell me? It had been 12 weeks. Second, how long has she known and who else knew? Thirdly, what the fuck am I going to do? I mean, this was a one-night stand. Christ, everyone has had one of those. I don’t even know this chick. And last, how did she know to reach me here? Did she tell my parents?
Then I received a phone call from my uncle in New York. “Hey Simmon, I guess you heard the news,” he said. He told me he knew from the first week in September. And upon her request, he concealed this from my family. He urged me to tell my parents right away. But I felt I should get another opinion on how to approach this. I called my older sister Karen. Barely keeping the tears back I ask her to, “Come over, please.”
She barrelled into the driveway. Like a shot she went through the door. She was pale white. “What’s wrong?!” she said. “Susan Jones is pregnant, and she says it’s mine,” I burst out, along with some tears. “Alright tell me what happened,” she said. I tell her. After hearing the story she asked, “Maybe it’s not yours?” I never considered that. I had always taken people at their word. But I moved onto the next crucial step. “What about mum and dad?”
“Well we should tell dad right away,” my other sister said.
My father had been telling me to “get your shit together.” Now I had to tell him he is about to have his first grandchild with a woman whom my father basically knew as well as I did. I had sabotaged a perfectly good life, I was sure of it.
The following day I approached my dad at my parents’ place. The lump in my throat was as big as a pumpkin.
I broke out into tears. Grabbing me firmly by the shoulders, my father asked, “What is it?” Snapping out, I tell him, “Susan Jones is pregnant, and she says I am the father,” like it is an everyday occurrence. He seemed to age 20 years right there. He slowly walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured two scotch on the rocks.
Watching my mother cry when I told her pulled on the strings of my heart. She cried because of my uncler (her brother) kept it as a secret from her. She assured me things would be okay.
I had the blood test done for peace of mind, not to question Susan’s integrity. And her family have the impression the test needed to be done to clear her name. I took the test. The results would be known by Jan. 13, 1997.
Susan found out the results on Dec. 27. Upon hearing the news she immediately phoned me. Hearing the news brought mixed emotions, but most of all I was just glad the ordeal was over. It was my child.
I received another call from her the next day. She asked me to fill out the financial information the court was sending me. I said, “I thought it was to clear up rumours, nothing to do with support.” Well I had been scammed. Not only did they want to clear the air, they wanted money.
She lives at home — her father makes around $100,000 a year, she makes $40,000. I am a student and I make nothing. When I told her this, her response was, “I know we can’t get much off you NOW!” Frozen half in shock, the other half in rage, I let loose. She, and her father, told my family and I the test was done to clear the air. When I said this speechless. I told her not to call me again. Putting the phone down in disgust, I told my parents the news. They immediately suggested I get a lawyer, which I did.
My lawyer informed me it was too late. If I did not have the test done there was nothing Susan’s family could have done.
The test opened a loop hole to get me in Canada. I will be paying for my child for the next 18 years. Up to 17 per cent of my income could be given to this child, someone I was not even sure I would ever meet.
I had to chose to either let this be the worst thing that ever happened or the best thing. I had to make the decision. And I figured if I am paying I have some parental rights, and I would exercise them.
The court date came and went (it was announced that I was the father). And the court set a $25 a month fee for support while I am in school. Her lawyer is not arguing that I have to pay doctor bills she had during her pregnancy, there is a later court date to settle this. My lawyer cost me $400. And her doctor bills might cost me another $300. On top of that I will have a $20,000 OSAP tab to pay when I am done school.
I still have to try to work things out with Susan, who I have not talked to since last year. I still have to create my ole in this kid’s life. I figure I will use the reading week to try and come to a solution.
I tell this story not for sympathy, but to show how easy it is for things to go wrong. I will leave you with the two things I credit for pulling me through this. First, whatever does not kill you will make you stronger. And second, everything is going to be okay.