His roommate was camped out on the couch with the television on. He wasn’t watching. It was C-Span airing the House of Commons.
When he walked in the door he could here Margaret Thatcher’s voice.
“…namely, the Community’s failure to agree a negotiating position on agriculture for the Uruguay round of trade negotiations…”
“I love you Maggie,” he said as he walked in with books under his arm.
“She’s not into you, dude,” said his roommate, not looking away from his book. “She’s fucking Pinochet.”
“She’d never do that,” he said dropping the books on the kitchen table. “She’s just using him.”
His roommate laughed.
“You’re ridiculous,” he said, still not looking away from his book.
“Messages?” he asked his roommate.
“You know I never check that fucking thing,” the roommate said. “I’m not going to be your secretary.”
“Well maybe Fidel Castro finally called back about your solar powered composting toilet,” he said.
The roommate laughed again.
“I love you, man,” he said.
“…..And I again emphasised that we would not be prepared to have a single currency imposed upon us, nor to surrender the use of the pound sterling as our currency….”
He went to the answering machine and hit play. The light was blinking.
“This is the third time we’ve called about your residency issue…”
He hit the erase button.
“Hey, I was listening to that,” the roommate said.
“Well I hate to ruin for you, but it’s resolved,” he said.
“Fuck,” the roommate said, still reading his book, “I was hoping you were finally getting thrown out.”
He shook his head and laughed.
“It was a pain,” he said. “But you’re stuck with me.”
“Hi, it’s me,” a voice said. “We have to talk. I think I’m pregnant.”
He hit stop on the machine.
The roommate swiveled his legs to the floor and set his book aside.
They both were still. He had his hand on the machine.
“….while we fully accept our commitments under the treaties and wish to co-operate more closely with other countries in the European Community, we are determined to retain our fundamental ability to govern ourselves through Parliament…”
He hit rewind.
“I think I’m pregnant.”
They looked at each other.
“The anthropology chick?” the roommate asked.
He nodded slowly.
“Dude, that wont work,” the roommate said. “She’s a communist!”
Neil Kinnock was now on the television’s audio.
“…On the connection between currency and sovereignty, can the Prime Minister, who abandoned her own Madrid conditions before she put sterling into the exchange rate mechanism, tell the House what will be her conditions now..”
“Fuck,” he said.
“Yeah, that’s how it started,” the roommate said.
“She probably isn’t,” he said. Then he was irritated. “This is probably one of your jokes. Did you put her up to this?”
“What? No way,” the roommate said. “I wish I had. This is good!”
He stopped for a moment. It had been awhile since that night. Two months? Six weeks? He did calendar math.
He walked into his bedroom and closed the door. He sat on his bed.
“This isn’t for real,” he thought.
He picked up the phone and dialed from memory. It had been awhile. It hadn’t gone well. There were fights. They didn’t get along. They were involved with other people.
They hated each other. Well, she hated him.
He heard the rings. One. Two. Three. He almost hung up. Four.
“Hello,” she said.
“Hi,” he said. “It’s me.”
“Well, so, you got my message?” she asked.
“Yeah, I did,” he said.
“So I am,” she said. “I’m pregnant.”
Suddenly he was in Mrs. Lloyd’s health class. It was 7th grade. He did a report on the effects of caffeine. They learned about the reproductive system. They took tests about it. He seemed to remember warnings about this. He thought of the diagrams. He thought about how they didn’t show a bottle of wine or a martini glass or the room layout of a hotel.
He thought about his mom and dad. He thought about his grandmother. He thought about her. He wondered if it — it — he stopped there for a minute. It. Was it his. He wanted her to be not pregnant. He wanted this to be a mistake. It was, he was sure. But he wanted to show that he cared about her, but she was not the first thing he thought about. And it wasn’t what he thought about either.
“So,” he said. Then there was a pause. He raked the soil of his brain for the right thing to say. Did he apologize? Did he ask, “Are you sure it was me?” Did he offer help for an abortion? What should he say? What should he do?
“Yeah,” she said. “And I know you’re wondering. I haven’t been with anyone since that night. Nobody.”
“But what about,” he started.
“I don’t love him,” she said. “I didn’t love him.”
“Hey, so,” he stammered, “are you ok.”
“Yeah,” she said.
“So, I want to do the right thing here,” he said.
“You do?” she asked. “What’s that?”
“I have no idea,” he said.
She laughed. He felt close to her. She was so difficult to deal with. Now they had a common enemy. A problem of their own making.
“I don’t know you,” she said, “Except that I really don’t like you.”
He rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Did you just roll your eyes?” she asked.
“Of course not,” he said. “I closed them and thought about our wedding.”
“Fuck You,” she said.
They both laughed.
“Can I see you tomorrow?” he asked.
“You’d better,” she said.
He could still hear the television when he hung up the phone and laid back on his bed.
“…Even when we get our own negotiating position, as I hope that we shall within a week, I hope that it will be on the basis that we have been negotiating for six previous meetings. We still have to have negotiations on the other proposals that we put up with all the countries. There is still a tough way to go before we get a conclusion, but the important thing — important for the welfare of all our people — is that that round meets with success….