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The Same 5 Questions

Posted by Elisa Taub
The Same 5 Questions

by J.J. Jamieson

When the fertility doctor first told us we'd feel like celebrities, we laughed. Celebrities? Ordinary, boring, bourgeois us? Ha! We smirked at his foolish obliviousness to reality. We thought maybe he was trying to cheer us up, 'celebrity' being a good thing in his mind, I guess.

Then lo and behold, not long after we had the triplets, we were laughing at our own smirky oblivion. Because he was kinda right.

It probably didn't help that, during their first 2-plus years of life, the primary mode of transportation for our kids was a genuine triplet stroller. Yes indeed, they make them, in several varieties, including a British double-decker, I'm told. Our own triplet stroller has seats all lined up in front of the perambulator, like some futuristic shopping cart at a sci-fi baby farm. And that triplet stroller is about as conspicuous as an elephant in a tutu.

When the kids were just shy of a year, we took them in their sci-fi triplet stroller to the local zoo. I quit counting at 75 the number of people - total strangers, mind you - who stopped me with eyes squint-bugging, heads jutting forward in bewildered amusement, to ask just what the hell was this? Seriously, 75. We attracted more attention than the brand-new display of Australian wallabies, who were not only extraordinarily cute, but who were, on that particularly afternoon, brazenly randy.

Seriously, seventy-five people. And I stopped counting. By the time I reached the late 40s, I had politely but firmly declined to halt so that the zoo patrons could stare fang-smiling at my kids from eleven inches away. Undaunted by my forward momentum, a buttoned-up grey-haired woman grabbed me to prevent me from pushing our super-pram another inch, so she could have a good long gander and get to the bottom of this monkey business. Physically grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to a stop.

And always, always, always it's the same five questions:

Q1. "Omigod, are those triplets?!"
Q2. "What sex are they?"
Q3. "So are they identical?"
Q4. "Do they run in your family?" (or) "Were they 'natural,' or did you... ya know... use fertility?"
Q5. "What'd they weigh? I hear all triplets are preemies."

I swear to Ceres (wouldn't you swear to the Goddess of Fertility?), we've been asked these questions so many times, we planned to print the answers - just the answers -on tee-shirts, to save everybody from having to yank on our limbs to find them out.

So for the record, here are the answers... and our courteously unspoken thoughts accompanying them:

A1. "Yes. They're triplets. I know, I know, it's still a little nutty, even to us." Now if you please, release your kung-fu grip from my elbow, ma'am.

A2. What sex? (What sex?) "Um, heterosexual, presumably, but if not, we'll love them just the same." Is it just me, or is anyone else properly bothered by that promiscuously bandied word "sex," when people really mean to say "gender"? Whatever. "Two boys and a girl. Which, yeah, is kinda neat."

A3. "No, the boys are not identical, they're fraternal." Duh! To me, the boys look totally different. Well, similar, like fraternal brothers, which they are, but not even remotely "identical." That said, I acknowledge that lion experts can distinguish all the different lions in a pride, whereas to me, they all look like... well, lions. Still, I think you gotta be blind as a bat not to see my boys' handsome and distinguished features, forgive another animal analogy. But then again, maybe it's just my pride.

A4. Do triplets run in our family? "Well, they sure run in our family now!" Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk! Are they 'natural'? No, they're synthetic. In fact, our daughter is a cyborg. Yes, we spawned using better-living-through-science. No, they never found anything wrong with either of us; both healthy as horses, thankyouverymuch. No, I don't mind answering, you're only the fourteenth person who's asked us since we decided to take a walk around the block. But frankly, yes, you should be ashamed of yourself for asking total strangers invasive questions about their reproductive procedures.

A5. "4-2, 4-15, and 5-9." Which is actually pretty big, for triplets. Virtually all triplets come early. My wife went 35 weeks, which is pretty long, in the 80th percentile. But what's cool is how Mother Nature (nee 'Ceres') knows to speed up the development of multiples; something about stress invigorating growth (which is a palpable life-ponderer, isn't it?). So a twin or triplet born a few weeks "early" may be small, but he/she is 'baked': lungs developed, everything working, usually ready to go home, as ours were, thank God.

So being stopped constantly, and being verbally prodded and poked by perfect strangers, yeah, we did feel just a little like mini-celebrities. Talentless, insignificant, fleeting celebrities, to be sure, but mini-celebrities nonetheless.

If Julia Roberts doesn't have enough trouble with the paparazzi, she should be thankful she had twins, not triplets. Then they'd really never leave her alone! But if she ever needs it, she's more than welcome to borrow our stroller. We'll even throw in some tee-shirts, gratis.

By the way, for truly enquiring minds, there are two bonus questions which we occasionally face:

Bonus Question #1: Do you have/Will you have any other kids? Hell no! Isn't three enough?! Bite your tongue, please!

Bonus Question #2: My gosh, you must feel so blessed, right? Absolutely. We feel we're about the luckiest people on earth... no question about it.

J.J. Jamieson is a writer and producer in Hollywood. He lives with his wife and three children in Santa Monica, CA.