No doubt when Peter Alexander recalled the most traumatic events of his life, he was compelled to reflect on the disaster of his first marriage and the birth of his five children, who had all sided with his wife during the divorce, even though they were too young to know what they were doing. Alice, Bobby, Christy, Dennis, and Eva…the first five of a proposed 26 children each named with a successive letter of the alphabet, so that when the birthing cycle was complete, there would be an A-to-Z compendium of kids. This was Peter’s idea, and the fact that the project was a failure, he thought, was owing to his wife’s stubbornness as well as public ridicule at the grandiose plan of having 26 children. But in all fairness, it must be admitted that Peter was ready to divorce Pamela if she was unable to complete the project during her fertile years and find another mate who was willing. These matters were brought to light during the divorce and did not weigh in Peter’s favor. He was seen as callous, narcissistic, anti-woman, anti-motherhood, and “offensive on all levels.” His insistence that Pamela take fertility drugs in order to have twins and triplets to expedite childbirths during her fertile years also didn’t help. In his favor, his attorney argued that he was pro-children, loved life, was potent sexually, and was a good provider, which he was: his job as a health insurance executive brought a six-figure income that enabled the family to live comfortably, and allowed his wife to stay home to raise the kids. This was an arrangement that during courtship she found most agreeable, as she didn’t fancy returning to the treatment center where she’d been a social worker trying to teach coping skills to violent teens.
In fact, they met in a college sociology class that Peter enrolled in for the sole purpose of meeting a woman, for he believed sociology was a “female-heavy field” laden with “liberal chicks who liked to party.” These were terms used by Peter himself during the divorce to describe how he met Pamela, who, at the time, was a soft-spoken 19-year-old with long blond hair that hung like a sun-drenched curtain halfway down her back. She also had a smile so bright that her teeth were whiter than snow. When Peter first saw her, he thought “she’s the golden girl.” However, after the first three children were born, she inexplicably dyed her hair brown and also had the first dental cavity in her life. Peter was unalarmed at these changes, but Pamela was already wearying of “the sentence,” as she referred to her marriage…a legal and religious contract that did not work in her favor as long as she was expected to give birth another 23 times in the next 20-plus years. However, after the birth of Dennis, when Pamela gained 75 pounds then quickly lost 90 pounds, dyed her hair blood red, and began smoking unfiltered cigarettes, Peter became concerned at her erratic (his term) behavior and first proposed that she take fertility drugs. Pamela refused, but Eva was soon born anyhow. Five children in five years…Peter told Pamela of an 18th-century Russian woman, a Mrs. Vassilyeva, who is said to have given birth to 69 children. “These births were conducted with the most rudimentary medical care and no health insurance,” Peter told her. “With our modern science, it shouldn’t be a problem to bear another 21 kids in 21 years. You’ll only be 48 by then and can go into ‘early retirement,’” and at this, he burst out laughing.
Everything fell apart though when she went on a weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains with her friends Evelyn and Eileen and had a hysterectomy. Peter was against the trip all along because her absence would take him away from the business of creating number 6–Frances or Franklin, depending on whether 6 was a boy or girl. Peter felt that the laws of nature dictated that F be a boy simply because to this point girls outnumbered boys 3-2, and he thought the score should be tied. He prayed openly for a boy. “Please, God the Father, give me a boy!” he would say, often in front of Pamela. The kids, wanting to help their father, would join him, and Pamela, not wanting to miss any family time, also joined in, even though her secret prayer was that she have no more children, ever. “Not even if Jesus himself comes down from Heaven and wants to start a holy race with me as the Holy Wife, I won’t do it!”
After her surgery, a light went out in Peter’s eyes, and he consulted several physicians on the feasibility of Pamela having either a reverse hysterectomy or having a uterus transplanted from an organ donor into her. He was told that these ideas were more akin to science fiction and not real life and would of course require his wife’s consent. Peter was undeterred however and searched for doctors in Mexico who could perform the operation. When Pamela discovered his plans by examining his Internet searches, she contacted an attorney and filed for divorce. Peter’s first thought when he learned of the divorce was to kidnap the children and bring them to Mexico, where his firm had an office and where, he hoped, his wife would join him after she regained her senses. In a letter to Pamela, Peter even wrote that he was willing to compromise and stop at 13 kids–half the proposed 26. “Magnanimous is what I am,” thought Peter. “Any woman would think so. Any woman would become orgasmic just at the thought of procreating with me.” And so, puffed up with his own self-aggrandizing affirmations, he endured this painful period by fending off imaginary advances from imaginary women who, he imagined, wanted nothing more than to reproduce endlessly in a feverish cycle that ensured their DNA would saturate the global gene pool and alter the human race for the better.
After the divorce, the kids stayed with their mother, and Peter moved to a new home a mile away. He immediately began placing personal ads seeking young women who had just turned 18 so he could resume the business of procreating, only this time he would have the woman sign a prenuptial contract agreeing to produce at least 13 children by age 35, or the marriage would end. This would bring the total to 18 children, only eight short of his original goal. He believed he would be able to convince his new wife to continue propagating beyond the agreed-upon 13…hoping to go as high as 21, which would complete the A-Z plan. Naming would resume with F. He spent his spare time reading baby name books and obsessing over various male and female names and having imaginary conversations with the unborn children. “Matilda…no, Miranda…no, Moxie…would you bring me another beer please?” Then he realized that asking a child to bring him a beer might have a negative effect on her development, perhaps leading to alcoholism, so he changed the request to soda. Then he remembered he didn’t drink soda, so he changed the request to juice. “Moxie, would you bring me a glass of juice, please? And Oscar, would you for the last time turn down your stereo? And Nikita, would you make sure you finish your homework tonight so I don’t have to talk to your teacher again?”
Peter at this time was a robust 32, standing 6’ 2”, 195 pounds, with wavy brown hair, brown eyes, a flat stomach, and a long and girthful penis that his ex-wife referred to as The Miracle Worker. His prospective mate, he decided, must not only be willing to give birth to at least 13 children, but she must also be multi-orgasmic during intercourse, as Peter believed that orgasm at the moment of conception ensured that an energetic, physically and intellectually gifted child would be born. He had no scientific evidence this was true, but he knew in his gut that female ecstasy was crucial to producing vibrant children. His procreational fantasies often raced ahead to old age, when he envisioned himself surrounded by as many as 400 offspring, counting grandchildren and great grandchildren, who of course would carry on the family tradition of producing as many children as possible. There would be senators, presidents, CEOs, philanthropists, peace activists, Nobel laureates among them. The original five children, who he simply referred to as “A through E,” were welcome to rejoin the family, but his ex-wife was banned forever.
Pamela, for her part, had taken up with a woman named Alexandra, an unfortunate name for Pamela, because if they ever married, her spouse’s name would be Alexandra Alexander, unless Pamela took Alex’s last name, which was Peters, also unfortunate because it reminded her of her ex-husband’s first name. So they nixed the idea of swapping last names should they marry. Pamela then reverted to her maiden name, Pickle (Pamela Pickle), until she could no longer bear the phallic imagery it conjured, so she once and for all changed it to Rebecca Smith. Peter was convinced she’d had a nervous breakdown and sued unsuccessfully to have A-E returned to his custody.
By this time, A-C were in school and were learning, by studying other families, that theirs was unusual, and this created a clannishness among the kids that was sometimes hostile to “outsiders,” and reinforced what seemed to be an intrinsic desire to expand the family as much as possible. Such expansion would thereby create a familial world large enough that the so-called real world could be excluded: all social needs would be met within the burgeoning family. While the kids believed that their beloved mother had been wronged in some way, they also respected their father’s vision to create an alternate race, if it could be called that, which would in many ways be superior to the human race. The kids daydreamed ahead to when they could start their own families, and began contriving their own naming schemes.
Alice decided that her kids’ names would be derived in some way from her own. Thus her projected children were named Alicia, Allison, Allie, Alvin, Albert, Althea, and so on. Bobby decided on names that spun off Bob and Bobby. There were Sox, Pin, Apple (as in “bobbing” for apples), Haircut, and so on. Christy was too young at this point to come up with any clever names, so her elder siblings assisted her by compiling a list that included Christ, Christian, and Chrysanthemum. When Rebecca discovered that her children were imitating their father, she became alarmed and sent them to a psychiatrist, who found nothing unusual about the kids except that they had higher than average IQs. Rebecca wasn’t surprised at this as she believed her children were gifted, only she wished they would absorb some of her gifts and predilections, one of which was an obsession with numbers: counting the number of steps she took; counting the number of words in a newspaper article; counting the stars at night. Her kids found counting tedious, but they did acquire her gift for math, which may have accounted for their high IQs.
Peter meanwhile was having great success meeting younger women, but none who would agree to the birthing contract to have at least 13 kids by age 35, and ideally 21 kids by the end of the fertile years. He decided to expand his search overseas, especially Russia, where, he had read, there were thousands of beautiful young women who wanted to immigrate legally to the United States by marrying an American. Peter began exploring this new opportunity in the way a hungry lion surveys a field full of gazelle. Before long, he had online relationships with 10 young Russian women, but he was disheartened when he read an article exposing the fraudulent nature of some of the dating sites, namely, that the women were often scammers pretending to be women, or, if they were women, they were interested solely in siphoning cash from their male suitors. In a manic and sex-charged fervor the result of not ejaculating for six months, Peter spent $48,000 on dating sites and gifts for various women, and in return he received nude pictures and nude video chats with a couple of women who did turn out to be women. But after losing faith in the scheme, he resumed searching in his hometown of Loveland, Ohio, and surrounding areas.
It was then that he met Agnieszka Quirelly Stojapovich Waxabadefomichova. Of Polish, French and Russian descent, she had retained various ancestral names, altered the spelling of said names to suit her whims, and went through her young life enjoying the attention and derision that her cognomens drew. Peter met her at a work function where drug reps were mingling with executives, and Agnieszka’s beauty caught his eye: her dark hair was cut short and parted on the side, with bangs across her forehead; she stood nearly six feet tall, was fair skinned, and walked so gracefully that it seemed she floated over the ground. She was statuesque in the true sense of the word, for if a department store mannequin were somehow brought to life, it would have looked like Agnieszka. Peter saw her name tag and was immediately intrigued and introduced himself. She commented on the fact that he had two first names, and her attention to his name piqued his interest even more. Upon further discussion about work and non-work topics, Peter discovered her full name, and was smitten: her names contained all 26 letters of the alphabet. He guessed her age to be mid-20s, a bit old for his plan, but all things considered–and he spontaneously considered numerous factors (was she multi-orgasmic; what would she look like pregnant; how well would her body hold up after, say, the 10th child [O] was born; her views on family prayer; was she a feminist? was she a lesbian? and so forth) he decided to proceed. Not wasting any time, Peter invited her to dinner, and she accepted.
Their date began on a sour note but improved with several bottles of wine and engaging conversation. First, to his dismay, he discovered that Agnieszka had a long and slender neck (“ostrich neck,” thought Peter when he saw her in the low-cut gown she was wearing). The neck wasn’t conspicuous when he first met her because she was wearing an indoor scarf stylishly wrapped around her neck and upper chest. He also detected an Eastern European accent that he didn’t notice at the insurance company party. Perhaps she really did speak with the harsh inflection of a female Russian assassin when he met her, but was so mesmerized by her name that he didn’t notice. He then scolded himself for being petty. A slender neck and a foreign accent were thought by many men to be the height of sophistication and beauty. At least on the fashion shows Peter watched, there were always svelte young women with long necks who spoke with Russian or Slavic accents. Their voices were often husky and suggested both rapacious sexual appetites as well as the ability to destroy their lovers at the slightest provocation. Peter admitted to himself that perhaps he was being too critical in the way he was dissecting Agnieszka, and he figuratively patted himself on the back for realizing how shallow he was, then realized it was vain to congratulate himself for recognizing that he was superficial. “I must dig deeper,” he thought. “I must discover who she is.”
During their conversation, Peter learned that Agnieszka’s grandparents came to America in the 1930s from Poland and Luxembourg. On the Polish side were also German, Russian, and Jewish ancestors. On the Luxembourgian side were German, Swiss, French, and Dutch forebears. She claimed to be descended from Luxembourgian nobility and that she was probably a Baroness, but didn’t care to investigate, as she believed “nobility to be connected to imperialism and oppressive political policy.” Peter was going to challenge the pretentiousness of that statement and didn’t care for the subtext that she might be a Liberal–who else but a Liberal or a fool would turn her back on a fortune? She also told him that she was 1/16th Native American, and although he doubted this, he didn’t question.
“Look, Agnes,” he said.
“Agnieszka. You must call me Agnieszka at all times.”
“Yes, my apologies Agnieszka. But let me ask you something. How do you feel about kids? Lots of them.”
“You’re jumping ahead quite a bit, Mr. Peter Alexander. We haven’t even finished dining and you are already projecting ahead into a hypothetical future that is based on a couple of brief conversations and the obvious fact that you are smitten with me, despite the fact that you disapprove of my neck, which I can discern by the way you frown every time you look at it.”
“How is it you have a European accent?” Peter asked.
“I spent ages four through 17 in Poland and Luxembourg. I speak five languages fluently, although I am most comfortable with English. But because I consider it impolite not to answer a question when asked, I will answer your question about children, playing along with your scenario that we will marry and start a family. The answer is that I do see pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in my future, although not necessarily with you, despite the fact that I find your eagerness charming, albeit awkward.”
Her long-winded answer satisfied Peter that she might be the One, especially when he learned that her family was Catholic and she had eleven siblings, 38 first cousins, and countless second and third cousins: a sure sign childbirth was esteemed in her family. For her part, Agnieszka was becoming incredibly aroused at the thought of making love with this attractive, interesting, financially secure, and eccentric man. She even excused herself to visit the Ladies Room so she could use tissue to absorb some vaginal wetness that she was afraid would cause an embarrassment if left unattended.
“Everything ok?” Peter asked when she returned.
“Everything is fantastic, Mr. Peter Alexander.”
“There’s no need to call me by my full name, Miss Waxabadefomichova.”
“And there’s no need to call me Miss Waxabadefomichova, my dear Peter.”
“I’m dear to you, am I?”
“Precious, darling,” she said, finishing her fifth glass of wine. “I am ready to begin a courtship with you.”
Peter ordered a third bottle of wine, marveling at the thought that if she was indicative of European women, he was impressed with their eagerness.
After they were halfway finished with their fourth bottle, Peter introduced the naming scheme, and told her in detail the tragedy of his marriage to Pamela, her subsequent nervous breakdown, her conversion to lesbianism, the absence of A – E, and everything else germane to the project.
“But what is the fascination with so many children and why the A-Z compendium?” she asked after he had finished explaining his plan.
“I believe I am God’s gift to the human race, and that the gift should be shared with said race by reproducing as many times as possible. I believe that, with your consent, we can achieve the goal of improving the human race by contributing 21 geniuses to it. As for A-Z, all I can say is that it’s always been my dream, for as long as I can remember, to have such a family. Perhaps because I was abandoned by my parents and raised in foster homes, where I enjoyed little stability or family cohesion, I think that an alphabetical family is a logical construction: orderly, ingenious, and noteworthy.”
“Let me feel your hand,” was all she said.
She held his hand for a solid minute, staring into his eyes the entire time, nodded, and said, “Yes, you will court me for six months, and at the end of these six months, we will both know whether or not we are suited for each other to carry out this magnificent plan to improve the human race, for I too feel that with the suitable mate, I can produce children who will be artistically gifted, compassionate, urbane, and excellent in all endeavors.”
As she held his hand, Peter felt a spontaneous emission coming on for the first time since adolescence, but instead of suppressing it, he let it happen, a flush coloring his face as his chest heaved and he gripped the table with his free hand.
“It seems the wine is affecting your complexion, my dear Peter. You’ve grown ruddy. Is the room spinning? You’re holding on to the table as if we were at sea.”
“I–,” he stammered, slumping forward. “I’m fine. Never better,” he said, gasping, then finally relaxed back in his chair. Fortunately, he was wearing dark pants, so the stain wasn’t as noticeable had he worn light pants. But to be safe, he saw to it that Agnieszka rose from the table first and preceded him to the exit so she wouldn’t notice the evidence of his excitement. He was too drunk to care if the other diners were looking, and he made it to the parking lot side by side with his glamorous date. They embraced under the stars and sat in Peter’s car, letting the effects of the wine wear off before they returned to their respective homes.
Seven months later they were married in a Catholic church, and nine months after that, Agnieszka gave birth to Festus, the first of 21 kids. Agnieszka agreed to use fertility drugs to expedite the birthing process, and had two sets of twins and one set of triplets, so that she was only 44 when all of the kids had been born. Their names were Greta, Harold, Ida, Jolene, Katherine, Lawrence, Moxie, Nikita, Oscar, Peter Jr., Quovadis, Robert, Samson, Teresa, Urban, Violet, William, Xerxes, Yolanda, and Zack. Peter was eventually promoted to CEO of the insurance company, and not only did the family live happily but chaotically ever after in a 28-bedroom mansion, but A-E and even Rebecca Smith were welcome to visit whenever they wanted.
While the above summary is true in the broadest sense, the details of their marriage reveal a different story. Peter was monomaniacal in his obsession with fathering an alphabetical family, to the point that he appeared oblivious of the vast repertoire of moods Agnieszka displayed, which some said bordered on derangement (derangement is, perhaps, too harsh a word to describe her behavior, considering the stress she was under). Peter was so gobsmacked with love during the six months of courtship that he minimized certain aspects of Agnieszka’s character that would have scared off many men. Words such as mercurial, impulsive, temperamental, haughty, obstinate, and dramatic could all be used to describe her; in fact, she used these words herself in an apologetic confession to Peter after her first tantrum, which happened in a restaurant when she stomped her foot at a waiter because of what she considered poor service and threw water in Peter’s face when he tried to calm her. On the drive home, she tearfully explained that she had been “terribly spoiled as a child of nobility,” with the result that she often behaved inappropriately. But the restaurant scene was only a prelude to another 20+ years of outbursts. Loving one minute, spiteful the next, and begging forgiveness the next, then laughing at Peter after he forgave her, slapping his face, then kissing him a hundred times head to foot (she really did prostrate herself before him and kiss his feet). As mentioned earlier, dramatic mood swings of this type would have defeated most men, but the eccentric Peter found them entertaining and endearing. Agnieszka recognized that he was hopelessly in love, and this inspired her to continue abusing him and indulging in what some people called scandalous behavior. One such occasion was at a birthday party for the eldest member of the country club they belonged to. Helen Albrecht, heiress to the Duchess Cookie fortune, had just turned 102, and Agnieszka was one of her darlings. Mrs. Albrecht still had a German accent and was fluent in four European languages, and it wasn’t unusual for Agnieszka and Helen to chat in French, German, Dutch, and English. They had developed their own pidgin where they would switch from one language to the other, depending on context: French for conversation, German for politics, Dutch for making fun of the Germans, and English for small talk. Helen was aware of Agnieszka’s capricious personality and loved hearing about her “episodes,” in fact she encouraged them, and in exchange for her admiration, Agnieszka acted out at the party so “shockingly” that their membership to the club was suspended. At the height of the celebration, around 1 a.m., 30 or so guests were gathered around the club’s swimming pool, drinking and laughing. Everyone was wearing comfortable summer clothes, but no one was in a swimsuit. An intoxicated but coherent Agnieszka stepped onto the diving board and interrupted the party to toast Helen. She held her champagne glass in the air, gave a rambling toast in four languages, drank the champagne, then stripped naked and dove in the pool. Helen rocked back and forth in her chair laughing and applauding, ecstatic that she was witnessing the spectacle. A babble of voices arose and several phrases were heard at once: “oh my god! Save her! Poor thing…it’s the asshole’s fault. Bravo! Bravo!” Peter appeared unconcerned, although he did approach the pool holding a large towel with the intention of draping it over his wife when she emerged from the water. When Agnieszka saw him standing poolside, she swam over, kissed his feet, pulled herself out and, ignoring the towel, stood naked and glistening in the patio lights.
“I’ve had seven children and yet my body is better than ever.” She stretched her arms straight up in the air and twirled around so everyone could see that she was telling the truth. Motherhood had added 20 pounds to her ectomorphic frame, but added them as if by design to make her more curvaceous. Her bust, she told everyone, had filled out, which she proved by cupping a breast in each hand. She now had hips, but with the same small waist and flat stomach as before. Her thighs were a bit thicker, but she deemed this another improvement over her youthful stork legs. After she finished showing off her body, she remained naked and sat next to Helen and resumed talking with her as if nothing had happened. The men and many of the women had been staring at her with fascination during her exhibition. After she sat down, the party resumed, but at a slightly reduced pitch, the men finding an excuse to walk past Agnieszka and check her out, and the women split into one group that clearly admired her audacity and beauty, and another group that stood with their backs to her. Peter, for his part, while recognizing his wife’s indisputable claim to beauty, also did some calculations. If she gained 20 pounds after seven children, that meant 40 pounds after 14 children, and 60 pounds after the agreed-upon 21. That would make her approximately 5’ 11”, 200 pounds. Her future appearance depended on how well she took care of herself, and her genes, which so far were perfect. If she continued filling out with the weight distributed at strategic points throughout her body, then everything would be good. But if the extra pounds all went to her hips or butt, he might suggest surgical intervention to restore her physique to its premarital sleekness.
After another 10 years and eight children (six more to go!) nothing substantial changed. Peter was more enamored of his wife than ever. Not only was she fulfilling his dream to have an alphabetical family, but her outbursts only deepened his love. Agnieszka was furious with herself that she too still loved Peter, and she displayed her fury by half-heartedly trying to humiliate him in public, often at parties they hosted where she would flirt with other men, and one time whispered in Peter’s ear, “Darling, I am going to suck your CFO’s cock.” Peter burst out laughing and told her that his CFO was gay, which only inspired Agnieszka to come up with another scene to embarrass him, for what she loved most was the freedom to entertain him in the most outrageous ways she could think of. It was theater. Her exhibitions allowed her to vent the self-loathing she sometimes felt for having agreed to the marriage contract, but she also loved performing for her husband’s entertainment and adoration. And that was the secret to their marriage: they needed each other’s attention for it to thrive. Peter’s vanity was flattered at Agnieszka’s outbursts, which he knew were for his amusement. He never felt embarrassed, not even at the swimming pool. His loyalty to Agnieszka for agreeing to the birthing contract was genuine and one of the few things critics could say in his favor. Agnieszka, for her part, was driven by a need to behave outrageously, as an outlet for her theatricality, but also to gain the attention of the man who inspired her to act out in the first place. Although she flirted with the idea of truly hurting Peter, she could never do it, for to drive him away would create a void she would never be able to fill. It was perverse but true: Peter’s attention was an aphrodisiac to her, just as her flamboyant behavior was an aphrodisiac to him. They had found in each other the perfect partner.