The Idiot Factor

Picking up a few groceries today at the neighborhood Walmart, I am reminded again of the idiot factor’s presence in the universe.

I had first encountered it not long after Lisa and I failed our first batch of fertility procedures.

It seemed that many people that were the least qualified were getting pregnant by the dozens. The more belligerent males I came across in these situations would say “I look at her and she gets pregnant”. Usually that was followed by, “So, you what’s the deal with you and your wife? You shootin’ blanks?”

My eyes would glaze over while I contemplated a Mel Gibson rage attack on them. Fortunately my therapist’s “if they could do better they would” tool dialed back my urge to do physical harm to this particular breed of Neanderthal, and I opted instead to add them to my list of people who had become victims of the idiot factor.

It is a simple natural phenomena that most infertility patients understand—the more the idiot factor is present, the more likely the couple is to get pregnant.

Now that we have had a child for 8 years, you would think the idiot factor has no influence over my life.


I am in the checkout line, and this young girl, I would say maybe 19 is screaming at 3 kids. One has a diaper with dried mushed turd squeezing out that is way overdue to be changed, the 2 year old is eating a bag of M & Ms, and the three year old has a nice snot bubble inflated above the crusty snot dried just above her top lip. The mom’s boyfriend possible father of the children is playing Tetris on his Iphone, and he slaps away the 3 year old’s attempts at getting his attention.

Lisa and I had hoped that after Elliana was born, we would have a surprise baby sibling. Eight years later, our chances of that random occurrence have been met with the unwelcome regular appearance of Aunt Flo.

Yet the young couple in front of me have been blessed with 3 apparently consecutive children.

The old familiar pang of something between jealousy and pity resonates as I realize the idiot factor has struck again.

I want to tell this young mom how lucky she is to have three kids naturally. Tell Tetris-boy to pay attention to his three year old because she won’t care about getting his attention in the not too distant future. Tell them that their little brood is a miracle of nature that they should treasure, because for some people having a child takes every spiritual, physical, mental and emotional ounce of energy they have.

But I know better than to ever open my mouth.

The idiot factor comes with its price, and I see its toll exacted on this overwhelmed, under supported family.

The mucus crusted toddler notices me looking at her.

I raise my eyebrows and cross my eyes.

Tetris boy hears her giggle, and glances away from his Iphone as his daughter lets out another hearty laugh.

He puts his phone back in his pocket, and picks her up.

Kisses her gently on the head.

She gives him a big bear hug.

In that moment, the idiot factor loses some of its power.

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