…being an account of the author and wife’s pursuit of a child, subjoined with discourses on teaching, pornography, and “irritable reaching after fact & reason.”


Each month for the better part of 2006, I go into the fertility clinic’s collection room to donate sperm. And each week, I read the sign on the door states that the room is available on a “first come, first serve” basis. I find this hilarious and share with the nurses in the specimen room. The nurses do not laugh.

They take their sperm collection very seriously at Albany fertility clinics.

As I enter the room, a computer desk sits with a laminated sign taped against the monitor. Something about closing whichever porn site you are on whenever you’re finished. A 12-inch TV with collection of outdated VHS porno tapes sits in a stack. It reminds me of my college living room.

I tell Dr. Ramullah that whoever coordinates the pornography purchases in the collection room needs to change their subscriptions.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“You’ve got a subscription to a suite of fetish sites, like Spank That Black Ass, We Like ’Em Hairy, and Girl-Peeing.net,” I say. My wife looks on, her cheeks reddening slightly. She’s less offended than she usually is when I openly talk about my preferences in pornography. “You really should just subscribe to your standard PornStarNetwork.com or Vivid.com. I doubt your clientele wants to view clips from EroticPunishment.com while they donate sperm.”

“That’s very helpful,” Dr. Ramullah says. He seems earnest when he says this, not creeped out at all. I help him spell out “PeterNorth.com” on his notepad. “I’ll tell the nurses.”


Copyright ©2009 by Daniel Nester from How to Be Inappropriate.  Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint.



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DANIEL NESTER’s latest book is How to Be Inappropriate, a collection of humorous nonfiction. It’s been called a “deeply funny new collection of booger-flecked nonfiction” (Time Out New York), an “enjoyable read” (Library Journal), an “an entertaining look at defying the conventions of appropriate behavior” (The Daily Beast), and “one of the year's funniest books” (Largehearted Boy).

 He's also the editor of (The Incredible Sestina Anthology), which will be published in 2013 by Write Bloody Publishing. He is the author of God Save My Queen and God Save My Queen II, collections on his obsession with the rock band Queen. His writing has appeared in Salon, The Morning News, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, The Rumpus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and Bookslut. He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.

He lives online at DanielNester.com and on Twitter at @danielnester.

14 responses to “An Excerpt from “Garden Path Paragraphs: Variations on Eggs, Faith, Doubt, and Fathering””

  1. I can’t believe the nurses didn’t laugh. Jerks.

  2. i really, really need to read your book. i am all about inappropriateness. and if i were one of those nurses, i would have laughed really hard. the doctor was remiss, as well.

  3. I have so been there! Well. In that clinic room. Mine had a hideous chair. I initially declined their DVD wallet, but I was tempted to after I actually got into that room; that was arguably the most difficult masturbation session of my entire life.

  4. Greg Boose says:

    I would not have wanted to touch that mouse or keyboard. That’s all I’m saying.

  5. I think “arguably” is the key word there, too. A classic comment. As if there is a list of difficult masturbation sessions one can summon up at any moment.

  6. At some point someone will refer to Woody Allen in Manhattan, responding to I think Diane Keaton’s character saying her shrink says she is not having the “right kind of orgasm.”

    Woody: “Really? I’ve never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.”

  7. After reading this excerpt, I believe How to Be Inappropriate is a book I will be purchasing. That short tale was a laugher. In regard to sperm donation, I once seriously contemplated this form of employment as supplementary income while working as a bagel technician fresh out of college. I thought the money might come in handy. (Pun intended)

  8. Marni Grossman says:

    Generous of you to offer your expertise, Daniel-

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