I have become desensitized to the annual ritual where my dad hands me an envelope he's received in the mail addressed to me and that has no return address. After 14 years, we are both nearly positive of the envelope's origin. I open one side and remove the bill just enough to see Fairfax Cryobank across the top, and then hand it back to him. "I think this is for you."
My mom and I visited Fairfax Cryobank for the first time on September 25, 2000. The doctor explained my risk of sterility and the sperm banking process, and then asked my mom for written permission for me to use pornography.
"If he needs it," she said.
The previous night my dad had asked if I "know how to get it out" or if I "need help." I kept my eyes fixed on the same textbook sentence I had already read 30 times without realizing and said, "I know how; no thanks, Dad," thrilled that the dull lamp in my bedroom hid my features, hot and red as a mature habanero. At 16, I could only laugh with friends at my dad's inquiry, unable to understand his courage.
I did need help from the magazines, however. With my mom one room over, chemotherapy to treat my aggressive bone cancer beginning three days later, and the sterile cup and alcohol swab on the counter next to me, I wondered if anything other than live action would do the job.
I returned to the cryobank once more before starting chemo, this time less nervous and with both parents present in the waiting room. "Are you done already?" my dad asked after I emerged from the room with the brown couch that so many with cancer before me had been forced to execute on.
My friends enjoyed this question even more than my dad's others.
Year after year my dad handed me the envelope and then I handed it right back to him. And year after year a statement that I had read in the resource spermbankdirectory.com rang louder: "The efficacy of the freezing is questionable when [sperm] has been frozen for more than 12 years." If that is true then my biological clock would stop ticking before my 29th birthday. That was almost two years ago.
In vitro fertilization is wildly expensive and has low success rates, and even though my semen samples were high in both volume and sperm concentration -- what I call Supersperm -- I could only bank twice. So four years ago, with no baby-rearing prospective partners or desire to be a father, I told my parents not to pay the $395 annual fee to keep my sperm frozen. "If I decide to have kids then adoption will be more feasible." Both of my parents denied my request even faster than my dad takes back the Fairfax Cryobank envelope.
I contacted Fairfax Cryobank about banked sperm having a 12-year life. "We just looked at a different sample that was provided around the same time yours was, and we saw no change in it," a researcher emailed me.
A 2009 study found that younger men produce smarter children. Regardless of my age, if I have children then they'll have been fathered by a 16-year-old. For women who balk at in vitro fertilization, consider my frozen sperm's youth a natural boost to your potential child's standardized test scores, saving you from paying for prep classes and increasing your child's chance at being admitted into schools like University of Virginia, my alma mater. That is one envelope grandpa would love to see.