Iris Feldspar’s heart was racing. The unemployed but independently wealthy yoga instructor was trying her best to breathe deeply and calmly, but it felt as if at any moment her heart was going to break through her ribcage like a prisoner making a jailbreak.
In the past three days, Iris had given birth three times—each time she’d gone to the bathroom to defecate. But when she’d try to squeeze out a turd, a newborn baby plopped into the toilet bowl instead. There was never any pain, but the first time she wiped herself she noticed giant globs of blood and mucus on the toilet paper. And each time, to her increasing horror, she saw a newborn infant squirming in the toilet bowl.
Rather than notifying her personal physician or the police, each time she summoned her personal maid Consuelo, who doubled as a wet nurse, to rescue and attend to the baby. Under threat of deportation, Iris sternly instructed Consuelo to keep quiet.
Bathed in stress sweat, Iris waited anxiously outside on the patio at a seaside cafe in La Jolla, CA for her best friend and spiritual advisor Judith Schechter to arrive. She hadn’t even touched her kale salad with organic walnuts and free-trade dried cranberries. She had told Judith that it was an emergency but hadn’t shared any details beyond that.
Whereas Iris was so average-looking as to almost be invisible—brown eyes, brown hair pulled tightly in a ponytail, matching grey sweatpants and sweatshirt with running shoes—Judith had bushels of curly grey hair and swaddled her pear-shaped Earth Mother frame in brightly colored ponchos woven by indigenous Third World peasants. Even though they were born less than ten miles apart in Southern California, Judith was trying to convince Iris that everything Western was “inauthentic.”
“What’s going on, hon?” Iris’s head jerked around to see Judith waddling toward her table. As Judith sat down and ordered some freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice from the waiter, Iris took the deepest breath of her life.
“Thank you for coming. I was freaking out thinking you weren’t going to come. I’m freaking out anyway. I—I—I—”
“—calm down, sweetheart,” Judith advised. “It’s OK. I’m here to help. What’s going on?”
Iris darted her eyes around the patio to make sure no one was listening. “You’re going to think I’m crazy—even I think I’m crazy—but I’ve accidentally given birth to three babies the past three days. The last time was this morning, when I went into the bathroom to poo. But each time I tried to poo the last three days, a baby came out instead.”
Judith smiled warmly.
“This isn’t funny!” Iris shouted, causing all the restaurant’s patrons to look at her. “Sorry,” she said to Judith, now whispering. “But I’m losing my mind here, and I wish you wouldn’t think this is some kind of joke.”
“Sweet spirit, I’m not laughing at you,” Judith said, reaching her wrinkled, veiny, liver-spotted hands across the table to clasp Iris’s trembling claws. “I’m happy for you.”
“Happy?” Iris said to the gentle sound of ocean waves crashing against the cliffs. “I’m, I’m—terrified. I’ve told Consuelo to keep mum about this. If word gets out, this will be the biggest news story in the world. Like 9/11. Or Michael Jackson’s death. What’s there to be happy about?”
Judith smiled again and took a slow sip of wheatgrass juice as she sought the proper words. “No, darling, you should be happy. Your body has taken a great leap forward in your journey toward personal empowerment and unlimited consciousness.”
“There’s an ancient Hindu saying to the tune of ‘What goes in the mouth comes out through the anus.’ It’s a metaphor for the entire karmic cycle of cause and effect. Everything is part of The One. Part of this beautiful cycle. When your body dies, you decompose but give life to other organisms. So your dead, decomposing body may look ugly, but it’s only in the service of producing something new and young and alive and beautiful.”
“Judith, I love you, but I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m about to scream.”
“You’re still seeing Nate, right?” Nate Handey was Iris’s boyfriend, but he was currently in Africa for two months teaching villagers about the value of water purification and solar panels.
“Yes, I’m still seeing Nate. He’s the only man I’ve ever been with who worships the Divine Goddess within me.”
“And you don’t have unprotected vaginal intercourse with him because you don’t want children, right?”
“Absolutely. There are enough children in the world, and overpopulation is destroying the planet. We need to take care of all the sick, hungry, and impoverished children who are here already.”
“I understand, love. But do you swallow?”
“I know it’s a personal question, but when you perform oral sex on him, do you take his semen into your body through your mouth?”
Iris looked around, blushing. “Well, yes. He said it was essential to his pleasure, and I take pleasure myself in pleasuring him.”
Judith smiled to herself. “I thought so. Sorry if my question was rude.”
“With the first baby, I thought it was one of those cases where I just didn’t realize I was pregnant. You hear that happening in the inner city all the time—a young girl goes to the bathroom and delivers a baby and says she didn’t realize she was pregnant. But then it happens the next day? And then the next?”
“Sweet truth-seeker,” Judith said reassuringly, “the universe is teaching you a very important lesson. We are all one. There is no difference between the lowest worm and the most self-actualized yogi. It’s very common for a woman to defecate while giving birth. You are merely giving birth while attempting to defecate. But it’s all the same principle. There is no difference.”
“Are you trying to say that babies are as disgusting as shit?”
“No, I’m saying that shit is as sacred as babies are. The forces of the universe see no difference between your baby and feces. We are all made of the same material—consciousness. Western religions are based on dualities—good and evil, light and darkness, and all that nonsense that causes so much pain and suffering. Eastern religions are based on the scientific fact that we are all one.”
“Judith, I can’t keep having babies every day.”
“The universe has decided that you can. If we had a sufficient government safety net and the Republicans weren’t standing in the way of progress, this wouldn’t even be an issue.”
Iris felt that familiar pressure and low growling in her abdomen. She excused herself, got up from the table, and walked quickly to the bathroom to have another baby.