Well, if a 70-year-old can produce sperm, I suppose the natural inclination is to want to save it. I mean really safe, even if you can’t bronze it. So an underground concrete chamber is logical. I refer of course to the quickly famous Repository for Germinal Choice, the brainchild of California millionaire Robert Graham who has had five Nobel laureates donate their very heady seed to his exclusive sperm bank. The idea is to sprinkle this seed among young and bright and healthy ladies, and if you can’t get an afternoon soap opera out of that you’re a lesser man than I, Gunga Din.
Stanford University’s William Shockley, winner of the 1956 Nobel Prize for physics, is the 70-year-old who has proudly boasted that he is one of the ones who gave at the bank, therefore disproving the theory that it’s the eyes that go first. What intrigues me more (I’m 29) is the belief that a 70-yearold’s sperm, contained within an IQ that goes off the Richter scale, would automatically be preferable to the precious donation of some young hunk like, say, Leon Spinks. Surely we’ve got to take into account, doctors, the deterioration of the equipment, like the one-hoss-shay where all the parts wore out at the same time.
I tend to suspect that because Mr. Graham, the genius who thought this up, is 74, the whole rationale is gleeful preservation rather than improvement of the human race. It’s sort of like Everest—because it’s there. Personally, I prefer Fred Astaire, who at 80 is about to marry 35-year-old Robyn Smith, the noted female jockey, and instead of locking his genius away in underground concrete vaults for the use of unknown librarians some decades hence, is prepared to act in living color right now. I once met Miss Smith, the two of us crowded to the point of comfort into the
back of a station wagon with a pack of jockeys during a rainstorm at Secretariat’s last race, and my admiration for Mr. Astaire’s skills, not to mention his stamina, has advanced from bounding to fathomless. (I’ve always liked the comment of the 40-year-old Cleveland sportswriter who, when Secretariat was retired to stud, wrote, “He is everything I am not. He is young, handsome, a millionaire and his entire sex life lies before him.”)
The geriatric dreamer, Mr. Graham, informs us that three lucky women have so far become impregnated with this cream of the cream, this cerebral mulch. “I don’t want a whole flock of ordinary women,” he says. Of course not. We can’t have a Bo Derek muddying the grey matter. It recalls the hitherto most celebrated attempt at this type of matching of the genes when a celebrated beauty proposed to George Bernard Shaw that they match loins to produce a child with her features and his brains. Shaw declined with the suggestion that the babe might end up with his looks and her brains.
It was Dr. Hermann Muller, another humorless Nobel winner (1946, genetics), who urged a quarter-century ago the establishment of sperm banks stocked only with the donations from brilliant men. I always have the delightful impression of the janitor, insulted by this sexual arrogance, doing his own thing. The thought of a master race pro-
duced on a chess board is, naturally, most beckoning. We have the heft of Jack Horner, the feline grace of Jeanne Sauvé. What Laurier, what future Trudeau, what Heward Grafftey could they produce? Robert Goulet and Charlotte Whitton, think what they could have produced. A feminist who can’t remember the lyrics to songs. Guy Lafleur and Carole Taylor? Steve Paproski and Simma Holt? The genetic engineering possibilities are endless, especially in
this country which continually elects Liberal governments and obviously needs a national improvement in taste.
The problem is not in the preservation of the liquid genius of our hyperactive PhDs, it is in the selection process faced by the future housewife. After she has picked up the detergent, the Willie Nelson tapes and the cat food at the supermarket, the problem will be selecting one’s tight-fitting genes at the push-button sperm dispenser. Does one, feeling blah on Tuesdays, take home a cassette containing all the winsome charm of Harold
Ballard? A vial of Gordon Sinclair’s bile? The essence of Eugene Whelan might be a big seller. John Crosbie, sold by the ounce, might put an 18-cent tiger in your tank. Who knows? How thin can one spread Pierre Berton? We might find out. Is Farley Mowat all bark and no push? The Consumers’ Association of Canada might find out. Is there a demand for an unadulterated Larry Zolf? The marketplace would soon determine.
This, one suggests, is the key. Not boring contributions, dug out of the concrete of Southern California, by dirty old geniuses. But true products of red-blooded Canadian creativeness. Bruno Gerussi alone could find yet another career. Peter Lougheed, through the supermarket dispensers of the land, might find he is more appreciated than he dreamed of .Who should be deprived of the whiff of Jean Chrétien? Canada may yet be united—by selectosperm. Thank you, Robert Graham.
Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for the FP News Service.
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