Friday, May 1, 2015

Don't Get Pregnant

Growing Up in Iowa

Girlfriends and Boyfriends

For girls probably the number one factor that determined whether or not they would be able to take full advantage of their access, growing up, to Iowa’s great public education system, was whether or not they got pregnant in high school. From the time we reached the age of reason, we heard countless admonitory tales of what happened to girls who got pregnant. “She got pregnant and it ruined her life” was often heard, at least around my house. The girls who got pregnant didn’t get to go to college. They missed all the fun of being with their friends and enjoying the activities of their peer group. They put on weight, and often didn’t take it off again. So we heard, once and again.

 Of course these dire warnings played themselves out along a fairly short timeline. A few years out of college, one couldn’t help but notice that some of the girls who “had to get married” could and did go to college and/ or develop careers – they just did it later, at which point they became just like everybody else: struggling to balance family and work. Whether girls who married and/ or became mothers in high school did go to college later, or not at all, depended on their family’s financial capacity, but also had much to do with the era in which they grew up. If they came of age at the time when women were entering the workforce because their earnings were necessary to maintain their family’s middle class income, they would most likely discover daycare,  “finish their education,” and start a 30-year career.

Nevertheless, the getting pregnant in high school part was not without its difficulties. While for some it may have lead more readily to fulfillment, for others early pregnancy was accompanied by real obstacles to living the life they wanted to live; for still others, young motherhood brought a significant amount of emotional pain. Take, for example, the four teen-agers who resided at the “top” of Lincoln Avenue, a pleasant, family-populated cul-de-sac in Northwest Des Moines. The four were me and my classmates Sid and Debbie, and another Linda, one year ahead of us in school. Sidney and his girlfriend Helen got pregnant with their first child when they were sixteen. They drove to Chicago to get married. Helen was Catholic and she wanted to be married by a priest. Everyone respected Sid and Helen because they readily took on all of the adult decisions that had to be made. Viewed from the outside, there didn’t seem to be much drama involved in what had to be major changes for them and their parents. Rather, they calmly set about starting their family. Their first child, Jeff, was an adorable little boy, his robust spirits and high energy obviously reflecting the degree to which he was loved and cherished by his father and mother. An equally adorable and cherished sister soon followed. I think Helen eventually went into real estate, but whatever she did, I never had the sense that she felt she had missed out on anything important, or rather, I strongly sensed that she and her husband were fundamentally happy with their lives. There was a popular song at the time that pretty much summed up their marriage:

C'EST LA VIE (YOU NEVER CAN TELL)    (Emmylou Harris)

It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well.
You could see that Pierre did truly love the Mademoiselle.
And now the young Monsieur and Madame have rung the chapel bell.
“Cest la vie,” say the old folks, “it goes to show you never can tell.”

They furnished an apartment with a two room Roebuck sale.
The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and Ginger Ale.
But when Pierre found work the little money coming worked out well.
“C’est la vie,” say the old folks. “It goes to show you never can tell.”

They had a hi-fi phono, boy did they let it blast.
Seven hundred little records all rock, rhythm and jazz.
But when the sun went down the rapid tempo of the music fell.
“C’est la vie,” say the old folks. “It goes to show you never can tell.”

They bought a tuned-up Chevy, t'was a cherry-red fifty-three.
They drove it down to New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary.
It was there that Pierre was wedded to the lovely Mademoiselle.
“Cest la vie,” say the old folks. “it goes to show you never can tel.”

It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well.
You could see that Pierre did truly love the Mademoiselle.
And now the young Monsieur and Madame have rung the chapel bell.
“Cest la vie.” say the old folks, “it goes to show you never can tell.”

The next few pregnancies-resulting-in-marriage on our cozy little corner of the street didn’t go so well as this. My friend Debbie became pregnant by her long-term boyfriend Tom towards the very end of our senior year in high school. Tom was already in college. Bright, attractive, gregarious and most importantly to Debbie’s parents, Jewish, he was welcomed as their son-in-law. The wedding was for family only. I was aware of what was going on because Debbie and I had recently gone shopping together, and while we were in the dressing room trying on summer clothes, she pointed out to me how large her waist had grown, and how hard it was to button her clothes over it. Then my mother told me she was pregnant and had to get married. Almost immediately after that, my father told me she had had a miscarriage, and offered to take me to the hospital to visit her. 

As I walked into her private room at Mercy Hospital, I was pleased to see that my friend was sitting up in bed and looked much as usual, if a little pale. She showed me a small, compact cactus in a pot that Tom had brought her as a present. Much later, she told me that after the wedding she had come home and was sitting in the bathtub relaxing when her mother, who suffered from bouts of dark depression and what was diagnosed as schizophrenia, came into the bathroom and, glaring down at her, said, “I hope you lose your baby.” The next day Debbie miscarried. She never had any other children.

Debbie was now married but not expecting a child, and moreover she was married to the ambitious, charismatic Tom Wolf, who was the apple of her mother’s eye. If Debbie’s mother could not be proud of her daughter, well, she would be proud of her son-in-law. For the next several years, every time I visited Debbie in her parents’ home, or later on, when Debbie and Tom had moved to the East Coast, whenever I visited her parents, they talked incessantly about Tom and his brilliant career. That was during the years when Martha Levy was living at home; as time went on, she spent more and more time in hospitals and convalescent homes, where she received shock treatments intended to stop her endless ruminations about the dangers of life. At that time, whenever I was home for the holidays, I would walk across the street and visit Debbie’s father, Phil. Undoubtedly one of the nicest men on earth, he was always happy to talk about Debbie; he remained proud of her. By this time I was living in California and Debbie was living, first in the Northeast, then in Florida. At some point along the way her family had rescinded their initial decision not to give her any monetary support for college. She completed her BA at Drake University in Des Moines, and had already interned in her work with children with emotional disabilities in the Northeast. By the time she and Tom arrived in Gainesville, Florida where she earned a Master’s in, I think Psychiatric Social Work, she was carrying extra baggage in more ways than one.

By this time, both she and her husband had conducted affairs outside of marriage; her affair had been a passionate one; leaving her lover behind in exchange for a fresh start with her husband had broken her heart. When she spoke nostalgically about her Italian-American boyfriend Tony, so adored by the girls he made love to in his room with a mirror on the ceiling, so spoiled that his mother ironed his underwear, I could easily imagine how this pampered Antonio fell in love with the petite woman with dark curly hair, a scattering of freckles across her nose, and a twinkle in her deep brown eyes, so delicate and feminine, yet so much wiser than he. It was more difficult to understand why she fell so passionately in love with him.  

Motivated in her chosen field by her mother’s doomed struggle with mental illness, my friend was not yet comfortable with the mentally ill or with the autistic children she worked with, some of whom frightened or repulsed her. She told me a funny-but-not-so story about her first day of her internship. Having earned her Bachelor’s degree and landed work at a children’s clinic, she dressed for the part. Showing up on Day One in knee-high boots, a leather jacket and jockey-type pants, she looked, a colleague later told her, like a lion-tamer. All she needed was a whip. At that point in her training, she relied heavily on behavioral modification techniques, and was as anxious about her ability to control the children as she was versed in treatment regimens. What a contrast to the career she developed in over twenty years of teaching children on Kawai in Hawaii, her eventual home, and the location of a literacy program that is now established there in her name. 

As she and her husband became increasingly alienated in what had been a marriage of best friends, and communication with her lover Tony wound down in the absence of physical contact, she began more and more to feel unwell. Soon she was facing the challenge of getting through three harrowing but effective rounds of treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease as she sought to complete an advanced degree and find suitable work. The cure rate for Hodgkin’s Disease was then fairly high. But in her case, perhaps because dosages in chemotherapy were often determined by a person’s age rather than their weight, and Debbie was a delicately fine-boned petite female less than five feet tall, the third round of chemotherapy sent her into a coma that lasted six weeks.

A ballerina like her mother, of whom it was said that she had given up her career for marriage, Debbie was believed by her doctors to have pulled through due to her athleticism, for she had the strength of a disciplined dancer. She had, in addition, incredible strength of character. This was a woman who grew up with a schizophrenic mother: a mother who complained incessantly about her, and indeed, a mother who had in a way laid a curse on her fertility. Yet she was always patient with her mother, always called home, never rejected her. Her kindly father, who could often be seen on summer days relaxing in his hammock, had had to declare bankruptcy three times; his work as a painting contractor did not provide her with security, growing up. He was the most loving father in the world, but he could not shield he from her mother’s wrath, or from social opprobrium when she became pregnant. 

The night before I left for college, where I would room with Debbie’s cousin, Gerry Little, one of the most kind-hearted people I ever had the privilege to know, Martha Levy turned up on my doorstep with a gift. She wanted me to unwrap it then and there, which I did. It was a coral-colored silky half slip, with lace around the edge. “I’m glad there’s still one nice girl left on this street.” She said. And I knew what nice meant. It meant you didn’t get pregnant.

Pretty soon people were telling jokes about whether there was something in the water that was causing all of the teens on Lincoln Avenue to get pregnant. Next was the other Linda, also my friend from childhood. She had made it through high school without getting pregnant, and fell pregnant during her first year of college.

The other Linda married her husband at our church in Des Moines, fully pregnant in a white wedding dress.  What I vividly recall about the reception was the fact that she was sobbing uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face, but that the photographer, unbelievably, did not pause or wait for her to regain her composure, but continued mercilessly to snap picture after picture of her in her distress.

Why did so many teens on my street get pregnant? Why did so many girls at my high school drop out for the sake of motherhood? There were around twenty or so students who fell pregnant during senior year. Didn’t we have Sex Education? Yes, we did.

I remember watching, in addition to all of the films we saw in the single-sex classes on sexuality that we had at school, a film at youth group at Westminster United Presbyterian Church. This film was typical, and laughable.

Basically the film, shot badly in black and white, made teen sex seem a tawdry, somewhat disgusting business that starts with two people groping around in the back seat of a car and ends in medical disaster. The groping scene in these films was invariably followed by scary accounts of diseases. We didn’t say STDs in those days. These were the dreadful diseases you could contract if you were unlucky enough to have unprotected sex just once; the symptoms were lovingly recounted. Only our educators didn’t say “unprotected sex,” because they were concerned to discourage sex from happening at all, rather than to promote the use of condoms.

The Sex Ed films we saw resembled the high school movie we had to watch about driving safety. Shown at a school-wide event in the auditorium, the driving safety film always resulted in several girls fainting and being carried to the cafeteria, where they were laid out on tables and allowed to recover. Although prone to fainting spells myself at that time, I managed to get through the movie because I was forewarned, and closed my eyes at the crucial moment. That moment occurred when the students were shown the hideous faces of people who had just been in car accidents; faces which my boyfriend described as “like pizza pies.”  

It tells you something that Sex Education resembled Driver’s Ed in this way. “They” were trying to scare us and they succeeded up to a point. Beyond that point, recognizing that we had been manipulated by hype and rhetoric, we became cynical.

Sex Education, beginning in junior high school, always seemed to have so little to do with what we were feeling: the intensity, the compelling draw of first kisses, first love. They could show us 100 movies about two people steaming up car windows and getting horrible diseases, but we knew it wasn’t like that. We knew it had more to do with lying side by side in the grass at the park, or curling up on the sofa, or on the porch swing, or driving out into the county, and finding a shade tree that would keep our secret; and it had more to do with the bliss of touching, and a kiss that seemed to last for hours. We knew it had more to with sensations so new and intense that they surely couldn’t remember anything like it, and for those of us who didn’t get as far as experiencing kisses, there were the feelings that preoccupied us – for most of the day. Then there were the rumors. Melissa Freitag hadn’t gotten he period yet. Cindi Ewald with her statuesque figure, unsurprisingly had. Sarah Weeks had stopped eating because of a broken heart. (That was so far back in the day that nobody had anorexia; but you could grow very thin on a broken heart.) Bob Smith and Ann Bennett – both splendidly tall and blond and elegant, and more mature than anyone else in the 8th grade class, had been caught making-out. They were so clearly destined for one another, and had been in love forever; it seemed a shame to stop them from doing what came naturally.

They may have had institutions, religion, and bad movies to promote repression and ignorance, but we had something better to keep the promise of sex alive. We had music and, specifically, rock. For puppy love, we had I Wannna Hold Your Hand. For romantic love we had Johnny Mathis. For honest desire without bourgeois pretense we had I Want You and Satisfaction. For rebellious love we had Rhapsody in the Rain. For love as friendship we had All I Really Wanna Do, is Baby be Friends with You. For love as longing, we had Unchained Melody. And for love illustrated we had Sam Cooke singing Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow and Don’t Know Much About History.  

Bad Boys and Girls

During our Junior Year, my classmate and sometime buddy Ron Strykers took me on a visit to a house that the guys in his group had rented; it was a house on the less affluent East Side. We drove over there sometime during the day, after school, just so I could see it. It was a run-down house that appeared to be trying to meet the standard for tawdriness set by the scary Sex Ed movie: a house with mostly empty rooms with mattresses on the floor and décor consisting of, for example, a pyramid of empty Kotex boxes in one room, and in another room, a pyramid of beer bottles. This was obviously a place where sex happened, and I was never there at night or for a party.

The other Linda’s high school boyfriend was rumored to have rented trucks with mattresses in the back for parties. I never saw these trucks as I wasn’t invited to those parties. But it was surely interesting that some of the boys had access to things like trucks and houses. Linda’s high school boyfriend was known to be wild, and so was she. A gorgeous girl with a Marilyn Monroe-type figure, she was a magnet for boys. People told me I shouldn’t hang out with her. Why not? We had played together as children and had ‘hung out’ at all ages.

By high school there were at least a few repeat offenders who frequented the barns on the edge of town (this is Iowa, remember.) Yep, they were sheep-shaggers: having started the practice on a dare, they grew attached to their partners in crime, who were presumably less high maintenance than their girlfriends.

Yet despite their access to houses and trucks, their frolics with farm animals, and their wild reputations, the bad boys were a disappointment. For they were, at heart, socially conservative. I garnered more criticism from members of the bad boy crowd for hanging out with my ‘wild’ namesake, my childhood friend, than from any other group of kids. Part of being a bad boy apparently had to do with knowing in no uncertain terms who the bad girls were: anyone who blurred that line just made life that much more difficult. Indeed, life was easier for the bad boys if they could maintain their double standard, and project loose woman personae on the girls they ran around with, and Madonna images onto the girls who said no, or the girls they didn’t know. But since it was the ‘bad’ girls whom the ‘bad’ boys most often ended up marrying, this seemed to be an attitude with perhaps short-tem benefits, but a long-term downside.   

Something About Linda

Ron Strykers was more of a friend than a serious boyfriend. We had dated a little and I remember his pleasant somewhat moist kisses. What I most remember about him though, is that he was my campaign manager when I ran for Chief Justice of Student Court, and that one year, at Ron’s suggestion, he and I had a standing bet throughout football season, with me betting against the home team, and him betting for it. The bet, which was for a nominal amount of money, went like this: at first our team lost a few, and I collected what was due to me in homeroom at the beginning of the week. Then they lost a few more, and I collected to the accompaniment of a chorus of complaints, all by the boys in the class who objected that I was betting against our very own team, and worse, profiting from it. Others joined the betting pool, all on the side of the home team. The more our team struggled, the more I was subject to angry and sarcastic remarks indicting me for my lack of school spirit. In Iowa high school-speak, this was tantamount to saying I was unpatriotic. I pointed out the obvious: I hadn’t initiated the betting scheme, and someone had to bet against the Rough Riders in order for there to be a bet. Things were starting to get ugly. Fortunately the home team then had a winning streak, and all I had to do was remember to bring a pile of dimes to school on Monday to pay off the winners. Now no one complained, or questioned my allegiance to Roosevelt.

I don’t remember how the campaign manager thing came about; I’m guessing I asked him to do it; but it entailed Ron Strykers giving an introductory, supporting speech for me at the high point of the campaign.

I was the first girl to run for this office, and the initial word on the street was that the school administration was not going to allow me to run, but they changed their minds. I remember telling my parents at dinner one night that girls could only run for Secretary, and I think my father may have had a word with them. How did I get interested in this office in the first place? I got a ticket for being late to class and still being in the hallway at the start of class and had to appear before the student court to plead my case. In fact I had three such tickets, which was looking like a serious infraction. I had these tickets because of encounters with Galen Gustafson, a boy in our class who was dying of cancer. Always impeccably dressed, he moved slowly with his cane, and when he stopped to talk with me, he always held out a packet of chewing gum with a wrapped piece extended as a friendly offering. And I always took a piece of the gum, and stood and talked to him while I unwrapped it.

I had been reading Kafka’s The Trial at the time of my trial, and although the substance of my self-defense was no doubt unremarkable, I apparently blew the panel of justices away by pleading “extenuating circumstances” – a phrase I’d read in The Trial. I was acquitted – probably because no one knew what “extenuating circumstances” were. This was all great fun, and soon I too was appointed as a ‘justice’ on the court, and got to skip class to hear students plead their cases. The student court, like the student council, was conducted under the auspices of history and economics teacher Richard Treeman (fondly known as “Tricky Dicky.”) Treeman was somewhat ambivalent about me because I was the girlfriend of one of his protégés. I’m  not sure whether Treeman liked girls very much. In his class in economics I sat in the front and enjoyed debating various points. He once remarked that I always used diamonds as an example, and why, he wondered, would that be?

How seriously did I take this election? Well, I was disappointed that I lost, and I seem to recall that I lost by only a few votes (the number six sticks in my mind, but could that be true?) to Jon Luckenbach, whom my boyfriend characterized as “the nicest dumb guy I know.” He was a nice guy, and an outstanding athlete, so definitely the more traditional candidate. But I think I was most disappointed that one of my girlfriends didn’t vote for me, and told me so. She confided: “I voted against you because you already had too much.”

I’m not sure what this too much entailed. I graduated number three in my class (of 700+), which was a shock to several people, but that hadn’t happened yet. I was also elected Vice President of t he Girl’s Club by a dubious electoral system which consisted of two rounds of voting; in the second round, the four girls who had gotten the most votes ran against one another for President, while the next four ran for Vice President, the next four for Treasurer, and the final four for Secretary. Thus there was a feeling that the winners of the offices of VP, Treasurer and Secretary were not representative of a truly popular vote.

Sex Symbol? Not Really…

Then there was the Teen Queen thing. At the end of my freshman year, my high school (meaning someone in the school administration) nominated me to represent TRHS in the Iowa State Fair Teen Queen contest, an event that took place at that very same fair at which cows and pigs and butter sculptures and 4H projects were judged along with swimsuit-clad teen-agers. Believe me, Flaubert’s scène des comices agricoles – the bleak little town fair at Yonville in Madame Bovary, had nuttin’ on us. The irony of my having won my crown along with prize hogs and other fleshy, first-placing  animals did not escape my girlfriends, and they would call me the Cow Queen throughout high school. My having entered the contest and become Teen Queen wasn’t seen as any great honor among my peer group; it was rather a source of amusement to my girlfriends, except for the the girl who thought I “already had too much.” In the event, I think the “you already had too much” reaction, like the double standard, was at the time gender specific. But Iowa teens didn’t ponder gender much: we used one and the same word for gender and for sexuality: sex.

Moreover, the duties of Teen Queen were very simple and straightforward the year of my reign. The year before, the Teen Queen had sullied the crown by – you guessed it – becoming pregnant. So whereas in other years the queen’s success might have been judged by her willingness to show up at various county and state events, and wave her scepter, in the year of my reign I had really only one duty: “Don’t get pregnant.”

But back to the campaign for Chief Justice of the Student Court. Did the office really have that pretentious title? I think it did, though any analogy between student and national government quickly broke down, as is clear from the fact that court offices were won by election at TRHS. I was trying to answer the question of whether I was very serious in my campaign. My friend Munby wanted to know, and he said to me, “Didn’t you just do it as a lark?” That comment suggested to me that he, and perhaps others, including adults, had talked about this and explained it to themselves in just that way. Perhaps. I also had laughed at a joke about my GPA being 4.69, and not asked my campaign manager to take it out of his speech; most of the kids at Roosevelt assumed that I didn’t insist on having the joke taken out because I was a nice girl and therefore clueless.  

Six months later, another girl, tall and lanky, a good basketball player who was popular with many factions, with non-factions, and with the “Know Nothings” – a group of mildly sullen disrespecters of adults and guileless girls – another girl ran for Chief Justice and won.  Since I had run first, she didn’t have any gender barrier to surmount.

Like my girlfriends, I had the usual number of boyfriends, serious and not, the usual number of crushes, break-ups, and heartbreaks. The junior high and high schools I went to were so socially conservative that there was virtually no interracial dating, and people weren’t Glad to be Gay  – yet. The patriarchy ruled, and along with the high number of pregnancies on the distaff side, boys were being pushed into sports, teased, and bullied – all in the service of making them conform to a preconceived notion of masculinity. The uptight, limiting gender roles of the 1950s predominated, in Iowa, throughout most of the sixties. As a girl, I saw the collateral damage in terms of bad reputations and unwanted pregnancies, but for students of both genders who were gay, as well as guys who were straight but not in the least athletic, there must have been an equal amount of pain.  

So, would I make it through high school without getting pregnant? That was the question. This question was made even more complicated by my putative divinity. Let me explain. But first, you have to understand something about Iowa. To wit, when you grow up in Iowa, with its excellent public schools, extensive network of church youth groups, and, in those days, a preponderance of close-knit nuclear families, by the time you get to your senior year in high school, you are bored out of your mind. Even the vaunted niceness of Iowans, their decency, their kindness, has become boring. You crave something dark, sarcastic, diabolical, snarky, shifty and antisocial.

Enter the Dirty Old Men. Actually a group of teen-age boys: friends, and mostly Jewish, they were neither dirty nor old; nor for that matter were they dark, diabolical, or antisocial. I never dated any of the Dirty Old Men, but sometimes for group events, such as scavenger hunts and car rallies (this is Iowa, remember) my friend Cindy and I, known as the Innocent Young Girls, paired up with the DOM. The fact that I wouldn’t go out with any of the Old Men had become somewhat of an issue, as I was known for making up bad excuses as to why I couldn’t go on a date. Thus was I presented with an official list of 100 excuses to keep at all times by my phone. Excuses ranged from: “My great great grandmother died” to “I have a bald spot and Anthrax on my toe.”

For some reason the Dirty Old Men liked to send me roses. One of their number, whose name I am going to protect here, pushed the envelope by deifying me as the Mother of the New Messiah (remember, this is Iowa). He wrote an epic poem describing my impregnation by the deity Norden and the resulting Virgin Birth on March 10 that brought about the reign of Norden Junior, the New Messiah. The poem was formally very good and contained scenes of violence and eroticism, like the scene in which The God Norden raped the Virgin Mother on the football field. All good fun, sort of.

Since the epic poem (it was ten pages long, for godssake) concluded with: “And March the Tenth shall now be Christmas morn” my friends thought it would be hilarious to hold a baby shower for me on March the 9th. And so they did, right outside my locker at school. There I sat, in a stairwell by my locker, opening baby presents and laughing my head off. . .

The next day of course the rumor was all over the school that I was pregnant. I found out about it in second period, when I had French class with Madame (Roxanne) Hall. Mrs. Hall, a no-nonsense redhead and a great teacher, was adored by her female and her male students alike. When I entered the classroom everything was abuzz.

The minute I sat down Mrs. Hall said, in front of the class, “Linda, are you pregnant? They’re talking about it in the teacher’s lounge. They say your friends gave you a baby shower after school.” I laughed and explained that I was now the mother of the New Messiah, which caused the class to roar with laughter. Bringing the class to order – we had Balzac to read, after all – Mrs. Hall commented: “I knew you wouldn’t be. I said to the teachers in the lounge: ‘Linda White is too smart to get pregnant. Note that I didn’t say too good, I said too smart.”

Madame Hall may have getting a bit of revenge. At a Parent-Teacher conference, she told my parents that, for the first time in her teaching career, she had been embarrassed by a student’s question in class. That question had been mine. We had been reading Balzac’s Père Goriot, and had reached the scene in which the hero, Eugene Rastignac, visiting the boudoir of a Parisian lady, makes a statement that baffled me. He basically compliments thr lady on having this bedroom where so many men had slept with her. Knowing that a girl in our local Iowa culture who slept with many men would be deemed a slut, I wanted to know why, in France, the number of her lovers would be something on which to compliment a woman? This classroom conundrum was much discussed, but while everybody remembered my question, no one seemed to remember the answer.  

So no, I didn’t get pregnant in high school. And thanks to my French teacher, Madame Hall, I was relieved of the burden of being too good a girl. The admonition, “Don’t get pregnant” was surprisingly effective. I didn’t get pregnant in college either. My first marriage produced no children. Well into my thirties, I showed no signs of settling down to start a family. Perhaps in my case, the warnings had been too successful?

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