69: “Gender is a construct”

Iggy and Miles had been roped into helping David and Melly set up their new nursery. She had no idea how it had happened. Melly and David had just finished renovating the second floor of their tiny townhouse so that they would actually have a nursery. Melly didn’t want the new baby and Madison to have to share a room because she feared it would disrupt Madison’s sleep schedule. Even though Madison was the sleepiest child Iggy had ever met, she had to agree that having a newborn wail at intermittent intervals throughout the night unexpectedly would disrupt the sleep schedule of even the sleepiest person.

Melly wanted the nursery to be yellow because she wasn’t sure if she was having a boy or a girl. Iggy tried to tell her it didn’t matter what colour she painted her nursery because gender was a construct, but Melly wasn’t really interested in hearing that. Instead, she gave very clear instructions on the importance of edging and taping that Iggy mostly ignored out of boredom. She was still unclear on how she and Miles were the ones who had been chosen for this task. She explicitly asked Melly.

“It’s good practice for when you have a little baby of your own,” Melly told her, going so far as to wink afterward. Miles turned to Iggy with a mildly horrified look on his face.

“Are we having a baby?” He asked.

“Jesus fuck, no,” was Iggy’s very firm response. He looked immediately relieved. Iggy momentarily wondered what that meant for the future of their relationship. So many of her friends were in long-term, fully committed, monogamous relationships, either already married or well on their way. Soon, Melly and Jana wouldn’t be the only ones with kids. Iggy didn’t think she was ready for that particular step in her life. She tried to imagine Priscilla with children of her own, little raven-haired demons much too smart for their own good. Then she tried to imagine Tallulah with children of her own and it was even more frightening. They’d literally just be supervillains.

Melly and David left Iggy and Miles to it after a while. David was in the middle of building a crib for the new baby and Melly had to do some chores. She claimed it was a rare opportunity since Madison was asleep.

“Literally every time I see that kid, she’s asleep,” Miles said once Melly and David had left the room. “Surely she could use some of those opportunities to do laundry as well.”

“I suppose it’s possible that Madison doesn’t sleep nearly as often as we think she does,” Iggy pointed out. “We’re not here all the time.”

“Feels like we are,” Miles grumbled in response. Iggy thought about protesting, but then decided that she didn’t actually disagree. She had spent so much time at Melly’s townhouse, specifically before she and Miles had gotten together, that one time she had accidentally started on her way over to their house after the gym rather than making the way to her own apartment.

“Do you think any of your friends will have kids of their own soon?” Iggy asked a while later, painting around the taped corners of the window frame. Miles stopped what he was doing, holding a yellow-covered roller in the air, and gave her a long, dubious look.

“I want you to think about what you just asked,” he told her slowly. “And then try to picture which one of my friends you think is ready to have children.”

Iggy considered it. There was no chance Oscar was emotionally stable enough to care another human being. She tried to picture Ramsay holding a baby. Then she tried to picture Joey holding a baby and somehow that was even more outrageous. Finch would probably be more comfortable rocking a viper to sleep than a human infant.

“Good point,” she replied and Miles nodded. They returned to the task at hand.

“Do you think we’re ready to have kids?” Iggy asked after another while. Miles choked on his own spit.

“Uhhhhh…,” he stalled. “I just, I mean, that seems like a trap.”

Iggy thought it over for a second.

“I don’t think we’re ready,” she offered.

“Jesus Christ,” Miles muttered under his breath, then louder, “Thank God.”

Iggy painted a yellow stripe next to the left side of the window frame.

“Who do you think will be the next to have kids of our friends?” She asked, giving it some thought of her own. She assumed it would be Danielle. Danielle would have to have an even number of children so that hers and Jake’s family would always be prepared to play charades at a moment’s notice.

“I don’t know,” Miles replied. “I could see Joey having a child by accident.”

Iggy snorted.

“He’s bizarrely alluring to women,” Miles continued. “I still have no idea how he convinced both Priscilla and Jacklyn to date him at separate times.”

“Well it wouldn’t have been at the same time,” Iggy pointed out.

“I don’t know, though,” Miles returned thoughtfully. “I honestly think he could swing that. He’d be the only one and it makes no sense, but I really do think it would be him to make that dream a reality.”

Iggy snorted again and returned her attention to painting.

By the time they finally finished the first coat of the nursery, Iggy’s back ached. Melly stepped in to check on their work, bouncing a soundly sleeping Madison in her arms. Iggy assumed the paint fumes wouldn’t be good for her, but as she knew next to nothing about childrearing, she kept her opinions to herself.

“Not bad,” was Melly’s resounding remark of approval. Iggy rolled her eyes at Miles behind Melly’s back when she turned around to look at the edging job Iggy had done around the doorframe. David bounded in later, sweating from his brow and holding a hammer. He was wearing his “construction clothes”, which as far as Iggy could tell, was just a faded pair of chinos and an old high school gym shirt that had roughly three drops of paint on it. He put his hands on his hips and stood in the middle of the room, looking around, positively beaming.

“Looks great, guys!” He said enthusiastically. Iggy couldn’t help but smile back at him. Sometimes David’s positivity was infectious. Sometimes it was just a nice contrast to Melly’s constant direct practicality. Maybe that was why they made such a nice couple.

On the way home, as they stood side by side on the subway, Iggy contemplated her life with Miles. One day, they might get married. And one day they might have children of their own. They’d paint their nursery whatever colour they wanted.

“If we did have a baby, what would you want to name it?” Iggy asked abruptly, swaying with the rocking of the train car.

“Rocket,” Miles answered without hesitation. Iggy frowned at him.

“Rocket?” She repeated flatly.

“Yeah, alright, whatever, Iggy,” Miles returned, putting the emphasis on her name. She rolled her eyes.

“What about if it’s a girl?” She asked.

“Rocket,” Miles said again. “Gender is a construct.”

She wanted to be annoyed, but she really couldn’t find it in herself.

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