Chapter 1 1985 - Money For Nothing

Retirement had treated I Mall very well. With royalties from continuing album sales and music publication, his annual income was sufficient to build a nice nest egg to support Angela and him for many years to come. He supplemented his income by producing a few records for some friends, but it wasn’t necessarily a new career choice. It was just a way of keeping at least one foot in the music business.

They moved into a new home, which I liked to call the “Mall Hall,” and it was a bit of a status symbol. While not exactly a hermit, I and Angela did not entertain much, but enjoyed immensely their own company. As they began to settle into their life of comfort, children became the topic for frequent discussion.

“I’m not getting any younger, you know,” said Angela. “My biological clock is ticking up a storm. It won’t be long before I’m thirty. I should have had a couple of kids by now. All my friends are starting families. What about us?”

I agreed, “Back in the ‘70s I wouldn’t have wanted to bring any children into the world, but these days, after the world reform movement, I think we best do our part to provide for the continuation of the species.”

“Does it always have to be so clinical and exact with you?” Angela chided. “Can’t you just think about a family from a family point of view? Don’t you think having little ones about will be a great thing?”

“Of course, I do,” I returned. “The thought of sleepless nights, 3 AM feedings, changing diapers, cleaning up vomit and emptying their litter boxes is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Angela’s tone turned hostile. “Oh, yeah, you’re really committed to this idea, aren’t you?”

“I’m just joking,” I replied. “I think it’s a great idea to get a family started. Want to go upstairs?”

“Now you’re just being silly. It’s not something you schedule, it’s just going to happen when it happens. I’m going off the pill today. When the time is right, they will come.”

Weeks went by, and nothing more was said about having children, but when Angela began to wake up sick in the morning, I knew that something was up.

“Morning sickness, hmm?” he inquired.

“Oh, just a little too much to eat last night, I guess,” Angela defended.

“Yeah, I suppose pickles and ice cream will not always be an agreeable meal,” I countered.

“You got me there,” she said, followed by her joyful admission: “I visited the doctor the other day. I’m pregnant!”

“Oh, no, not again!”

Angela adopted a puzzled expression. “What do you mean by that? I haven’t been pregnant before!”

“Oh, that’s right. I guess I was just overreacting like those folks I sometimes see on TV. Actually, it’s great news! A boy or a girl?”

“I don’t know, it’s too early to even tell. But my heart tells me it’s a girl. We’ll know in another seven months. I remember only a little when my mother was pregnant with me. Well, not actually remember, but what she told me about it. Time went by for her like a gazelle. It’s like dad and her just met, and then there were the four of us.”

“We need to relish every moment, keep photos, maybe even do some filming. We have that Video Cassette Recorder and camera that we can start to document our journey. Maybe we’ll be famous filmmakers someday!”

“We can film some, but I’m going to draw the line at certain things. There’s only so much that I want seen about this whole thing.”

“Then what are we waiting for? We should be filming this as well. It’s all part of the process.”

“This isn’t the exciting time. Wait until I start to show, at least. Or maybe we can surprise our parents with the announcement. Yours will be very pleased, it’ll be their first grandchild.”

“Yeah, Spike and Emily beat us to punch with their little one. But now he’ll have a cousin to play with.”

The following weeks saw more changes. Clothes no longer fit. Moods were testy. Diets changed. Some food didn’t taste good for Angela; some she craved. She especially like roasted chicken. A lot of 3AM trips on roasted chicken quests. It didn’t matter that there were no places open at that hour, she insisted they drive around “just in case.”

I finally found a place that served up a good roasted chicken, and made it a habit of picking up a few extra meals. When the 3AM craving came about, the dinner was popped into the microwave and “Voila!” Craving satisfied!

Soon, however, the cravings switched to lemon pie, and roasted chicken did not even get a second glance. Seven meals stocked into the freezer went uneaten for several months, until they finally had to throw them away. They even got a letter from the local restaurant asking if everything was OK. They were concerned because they hadn’t been seen there in some time.

But the local pie shop was the fortunate beneficiary of Angela new cravings, and she was eating a whole pie every two days. That particular phase lasted for two months, before she decided that only dark fudge chocolate chip cookies would satisfy her every need.

Angela looked in the mirror. I commented, “Are you sure we’re not having twins?” Angela had gained eighty pounds, and it was pretty certain it wasn’t all baby.

“How could I have let myself go like that,” she fell sobbing into I’s arms. Then, almost inexplicably, began beating him about the head.

“It’s all your fault! You shouldn’t have kept feeding me. Look where it’s gotten me! It will take years for this to go away. I hate you!”

“Now, now. Settle down. We’ll work though this together.” I tried to calm Angela down. She wept, inconsolably. “Let’s start with a healthy alternative. Try some salad.”

“That’s rabbit food! I’m not an animal!” she screamed. “Give me a cookie!”

I grasped her firmly by the arms, and stared into her eyes. “OK, then how about an apple? You like apples, don’t you?”

I’s calm in the face of her hysterics was enough to stop the water works. “I guess so,” she sniffed. “An apple a day…” she giggled a bit.

Angela’s weight stabilized with a healthier diet, but didn’t go down. She struggled to move about as her due date approached. I called her his little hippo, in a affectionate manner, but Angela didn’t really appreciate his affection.

I became her chauffeur as she needed to make her “little trips” as she liked to call them. But one “little trip” was a bit different. As they were out and about, a sudden pang hit her in the stomach. She screamed, nearly sending I off the road. “She’s coming! We need to go to the hospital now!” Angela still had herself convinced that the baby was going to be a girl.

I turned around and headed in the direction of the hospital and stepped on the gas. “Slow down, it’s not going to happen that fast. I’d rather arrive late, than not at all,” Angela warned.

I pulled up to the hospital doors and helped Angela out of the car. A nearby wheelchair was commandeered, and he wheeled her into the registration area. The nurse took one look at her and said “I’ll take it from here.” I stopped and began filling out paperwork.

“That’ll be $100,” the receptionist said. “That’s the standard fee for hospital admittance with your plan.”

I paid the $100 in cash, and went to the delivery ward. The nurse was examining Angela, taking vitals, scanning for stress on the baby.

“Everything looks fine, she said, but she’s not quite ready yet. It’s false labor. Take her home, and let her have some rest. It’s going to be a couple of days still.”

They left without a baby in tow, the excitement had faded to disappointment. “Money for nothing,” I complained, grousing about the $100 fee. “We should have at least got a refund.”

“We can afford it,” Angela offered. “I’m down, too. But she’s coming soon. I know it. It’s only a matter of time now. Soon. Soon…” Exhausted, she drifted into slumber.

As if on schedule, two days later, they were headed back to the hospital. This time, however, they were better prepared. Angela had packed an overnight bag and kept it handy. I comforted her through some false labor pains, but when the real ones arrived, they knew the time was near. When her water broke, it was into the car and off to the hospital. She was in pain, but knowing it was soon to end, the trip was much less hurried and anxious.

On registration, the receptionist noted that they had already paid the admittance fee, and both moved quickly into the labor room.

“You’re going to be fine,” I tenderly told Angela. “It’s all going to be fine.”

Angela let our another scream, “She’s coming!”

I popped his head out and called for the nurse. “I think it’s time!”

Holding Angela’s hand, I accompanied her to the delivery room, and thirty minutes later, Christine Elaine Mall, 7 pounds, 8 ounces, 19 inches long, came into the world.

Chrissy was a delight for her mother and father, and Henry and Juliette Mall and Buddy and Annette Jones couldn’t be prouder as new grandparents. Henry had become a bit more worldly since the birth of his son; he no longer had to ask how old the baby was when it was born. Juliette looked longingly at her granddaughter, wondering what it would have been like if she’d had a daughter in addition to I. Buddy and Annette welcomed their first granddaughter with joyful tears.

It was December 3, 1985, I’s 32nd birthday, and he was father for the first time. He could not have asked for a better birthday present.