PUSH: Feta and Drano

Read all of PUSH: One Man's Journey

Week 25

There are all kinds of "tests" you can do predict the gender: dangling a pin over the pregnant woman's wrist, a wedding ring over her belly, a herring over her pancreas, et cetera. Every one of them is equally ridiculous. The Chinese claim to have a method of predicting the sex of the baby that claims to be 99 percent accurate. All you need is the age of the mother at the time of conception and the month the child was conceived, and the Chinese Lunar Calendar will do the rest. Of course, you don't know if it's going to be a rat or a monkey or what, but at least you'll know the gender.

Perhaps the dumbest, though, is the infamous "Drano Test," whereby you get your wife to pee in a cup, then you pour some Drano in there, and the color it turns will tell you boy or girl. There are so many problems with this theory, the least of which is that it isn't healthy for a pregnant woman to inhale the fumes. Another is that no one seems to know what the colors mean. Some say bluish yellow means boy, and greenish brown means girl; some say black means boy and blue means girl; others say brown means boy and no change at all means girl. I say it all means the same thing: you're an idiot. Flip a coin.

Gender really is the only thing on earth short of a coin toss that has even odds. But that hasn't stopped my father from coming up with a complicated theorem to predict birth gender in my family. He developed it at some point in the seventies and has been honing it ever since. It is way too complicated to go into in these pages, but rest assured that it has been 100 percent accurate in predicting birth gender for the past two generations. According to him, no matter how many babies we have, Sarah and I will have all boys.

When I tried to explain my dad's theorem to my pragmatic friend Nicole, her eyes glazed over. After she was sure I finished, she said, "It's a girl, and here's my formula. I took a guess." I suppose unless we have a hermaphrodite, Nicole, my Dad, the Drano, and the Chinese have all got a 50-50 chance.

With so many experts out there, and all the access to information that we have these days, there is still no consensus on what pregnant women can and can't ingest. Even after a couple months of reading about this stuff, I still don't know. Everyone sees eye to eye on sushi, cold cuts, and nicotine, but beyond that, there's more agreement on the death penalty. OK, so we know shark, swordfish, and king mackerel are out, but, really, how hard is it to avoid shark?

"Mmm, you know what I'm in the mood for tonight? Shark!"

"Sorry honey, it's on the no-no list."

"Oh, man! Come on!"

"No can do. Here, try these 6-to-11 servings of grains."

Everyone agrees on the dangers of non-pasteurized cheese, or so I thought. It seems a disgruntled woman of Greek descent on Sarah's expectant mothers message boards was sick of all the Feta-bashing going on there and posted an impassioned plea in defense of her country's famous curd. She cited the thousands of years that pregnant Greek women had subsisted on Feta, olive oil, and not much else, and produced great thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as a result. Someone asked who the hell Greece had produced in the last 2,000 years, at which point the Greek woman mysteriously disappeared.