I went to a sperm bank yesterday and learned all about clichés. This wasn’t the original plan. The original plan was to learn about discrimination through sperm donation, but that didn’t really work out. I had this theory, you see, that white sperm trends heavily over black sperm and that donors of certain nationalities and physicalities are barred for a simple lack of demand and all that would make an excellent article on middle-class bigotry. As I said though, it didn’t work out. You’ll see in the conversation below that IVF mothers are a modern bunch and the only thing really surprising was how clichéd it all was. Remember those early 2000s comedies where Sean William Scott always ends up donating sperm and getting fingered by a hot nurse? Well, they were totally accurate. Yes there’s a cupboard full of porn and rubber gloves. Yes, the nurses are all good-looking, and yes, I asked for assistance. I’ll get to that bit in a moment.
The fist part of donating sperm involved talking with a nurse named Jane, which wasn’t her real name. She explained that I was to provide a sample of my sperm and then a sample of my blood to check for diseases and genetic health issues. After that I’d be paid, assuming everything was OK.
VICE: And how much will I be paid?
Jane: Well, we won’t pay for your genetic material; it’s for your time. We like to get five donations, and you get paid $150 for each. After the sperm has been quarantined for six months, we check it again for abnormalities or diseases, and then we can offer your sperm to recipients. You then get an extra $150 for every sample, so the total is $1500.
So you accept all sperm?
We don’t reject anyone unless there’s an issue with their blood or genetic history. Each donor can have ten families, meaning the sperm from each man can be used with ten different women.
And what are mothers are looking for in a donor?
Well, everyone will go for somebody different. I had a lady in last week looking for someone with dark skin because she’s really fair. In terms of nationalities, normally a Chinese mother will be looking for a Chinese donor. There’s an Egyptian lady who is looking for someone else from that region. You do get single women and lesbians looking for someone different though. We had a single in here recently, and she wanted someone from the west of Africa.
So how do I provide my sample?
There’s a men’s room that the nurses generally don’t go into. There are magazines and movies in there. We subscribe to Penthouse—I think that’s the one we’ve got. You can spend as much time as you want and then you simply try to catch your sperm in the jar, which seems to be easier said than done. When you’re done, just ring the bell and the scientist will come grab the sample from you. You’re young, I’m sure it won’t be too hard.
So I left Jane, feeling a bit bummed about all that equality and not really sure what to do next. The main problem was I didn’t want to donate sperm. The last thing the world really needs is more people, let alone ten anonymous new families from me, with cash being my only noteworthy incentive. And just as I was thinking about leaving, I was ushered into a room about the size of a laundry and told to do my thing, and OK sure, I’m making this sound a lot more passive than it was. I was pretty excited to be in a room built entirely for masturbation, so I got out my camera and had a look around. It was a small, clinical kind of bathroom/office with a touch of 2005 about it. There was a couch facing a TV and beneath that was a cupboard. Inside the cupboard was a lot of porn and some fun medical items.
It was nice to see porn magazines again. I leafed through them and thought about school and how we used to hide porn in trees and parks and under the ground. Then I noticed a fridge in the corner that contained airliner serves of cheese and biscuits and juices for refreshment. A sign above the fridge instructed donors to “make themselves at home.” I chose a pineapple juice (because of a correlation between pineapples and good sperm) and a packet of cheese and biscuits. Then I sat on the couch and watched porn while I ate.
The room wasn’t much of a turn on. There were tissues, lube, rubber gloves, and a type of disposable blanket to spread over the couch. The porn on the TV was good but not great, and as I said, the whole thing correlated entirely with my expectations. Then I noticed a big red button next to the door.
In case of medical emergency? I liked that. I thought about all the fascinating accidents that people must have had there. I considered pushing it on general principle, but then thought better of it and tried masturbating instead.
Masturbating under duress kind of sucks. I gave up after a while and had another biscuit and cheese and a think. There were some donation instructions inside a Perspex menu holder on top of the cupboard so I pulled it down for a look and spotted this little nugget. Bottom paragraph. Read.
Yeah, you know what that means. It refers to all the times Sean William Scott had trouble (Am I just thinking of Road Trip? Surely that film got made a few times…). When he called the nurse, he got a prostate rub out of it. I’d always suspected this to be a Hollywood lie, but here I was, looking at a very possible invitation to a prostate rub. Not that it actually appealed to me. I figured for the sake of journalistic integrity I should at least ask, so I pushed the buzzer.
When the nurse/scientist showed up, I told her was very interested in the “alternative arrangements.” I said this in a slightly goofy voice, as though I was looking for simple clarification but possibly open to something new. She obviously picked up on the “something new” bit because she flinched and told me quickly that it meant they were able to schedule another appointment if needed. At that I felt my toes squirm up inside my shoes and I mumbled something about curiosity and hurried back into my sperm room. I finished, of course—I had to—but I left quickly after. The sperm bank had turned out to be a nice place, full of professional, nondiscriminating nurses who won’t do a little work on the side. It was almost exactly what I’d expected and that familiarity had turned against me. I called the next day to cancel my donation and apologized for wasting their time. God knows, they’ve got a weird enough job already.
Follow Julian on Twitter: @MorgansJulian__
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