Two years ago, not long after I returned to work post-maternity leave, I found myself at a Planned Parenthood gala in D.C. I felt like a tourist. Having just spent five months in my sweatpants, speaking in baby-rhyme with an infant hanging from my boob, I might as well have been an alien among these well-dressed people, with their wine glasses and their witty repartee. So as I sat down at my table, I was relieved to recognize the man seated next to me. Semitic, bespectacled, nebbishly handsome—I couldn’t place him, but a wash of warmth told me this was an old friend.
“Do we know each other?” I asked.
“Maybe,” he said, playing along. “You look familiar, too.” A couple of rounds of Jewish Geography got us nowhere. He smiled an impish smile—so familiar!—and threw up his hands in defeat, but I persisted: “Are you with Planned Parenthood?” That’s when his face changed to an expression that said, Oh wow, she really doesn’t know. In that instant, my brain woke up. It was Steve from Sex and the City.
My mind reeled. How couldn’t I have recognized David Eigenberg? For months I’d been seeing his face nearly every day, while catching up on Sex and the City during my daughter’s marathon nursing sessions. It had become my escape: I’d switch on the DVD player and forget for the moment all the ways in which I resembled a dairy cow, and all the terrifyingly powerful ways motherhood was changing me.
Instead, I’d plunge into a different life altogether, one that was hip and fast-paced and unapologetically self-involved—the kind of life that, I knew, I’d never have again. But even in my escape fantasies, a shred of reality had remained. Naturally, I’d latched onto the storyline of the only characters with a baby, Miranda and her sometime boyfriend Steve. The farther I’d gotten into the series, the more fervently I’d hoped these newly minted parents would get their acts together. Would they? I was nearing the finale, but resolution seemed distressingly far off.
Meanwhile, Eigenberg and I were having what felt like 50 conversations at once, because he turned out to be a madman who talked at warp speed, in one long run-on sentence: “I gotta tell ya I hate coming to Washington it’s such a slap in the face the Bushies running this country are such idiots hey are those NUTS on our salads are nuts even supposed to BE on salads—”
The night still held much in store. Later, on stage, Eigenberg would cap off a frenzy of pro-choice rambling by blurting out, “I have a PENIS! And my wife has a VAGINA!” (Polite applause followed.) Even later, it would be my turn to give a speech, and Jane Fonda would wink at me from the audience; later still, I would pose for a photograph with my tall, blond editor and the tall, blond One Life to Live star Heather Tom, with me standing between them, looking like a garden gnome. But for the moment, I had just one thing on my mind.
“Do you and Miranda get married at the end?”
Eigenberg actually shut up for a moment. “Do you want me to tell you?” he asked, cocking his head.
I thought better of it. I’d find out for myself, in my own time.