It's not that I found Big Bird particularly attractive, it's just that I thought he would make a good parent. I mean father. Parent implied an extended relationship I wasn't necessarily banking on. Not that I wouldn't have wanted an extended relationship. It's just that I was trying to be realistic. I was thirty-five, after all, and by then I knew the difference between expectation and desire; between love and lust; between boyfriends and fathers. At least, I was supposed to know. Contemplating impregnation by an eight-foot yellow bird is just one example of how carried away you can get when you want a child as much as I did. You have to admit, though, that except for the feathers--and the horizontally striped tights, and the bulging eyes, and that stupid pointy beak--Big Bird would be the ideal parent: He's warm. He's affectionate. He's had a stable job for almost as long as I can remember. And you'd always know where to find him in case you needed anything later on. Giving birth to a baby covered in a fuzzy down of yellow feathers would be a small price to pay for such exemplary paternal qualities. My friend Amy, though, preferred Barney. She would cite his trademark song as evidence of his superior genes: I love you. You love me. We're a happy family... But when I'd point out how a happy family might be beyond our reach but a child wasn't--she'd reluctantly agree. Then she'd confess the true reason for her preference: She liked purple better than yellow. Telling people you want to have kids when you're not married doesn't exactly go over likeThe Red Balloon.It's not like everyone you know--parents, married friends, single friends, boyfriends--will be waiting in your own personal receiving line after some wedding or baby shower to congratulate you on having a few too many vodka martinis and transforming yourself into their vision of the living breathing female cliche. But for once, you're not feeling like a cliche. For once, you're not bemoaning your unmarried barren state. Despite the fact that you are, quite obviously, drunk, you're in surprisingly good spirits. In fact, you're feeling rather empowered. Publicly expressing your desire to have a child is the first step to achieving it. Obviously I understood that I would need to prepare for such a radical addition to my life--to feather my nest, as it were. First, I would need a bigger apartment to make room for a crib. And a changing table. And a Diaper Genie. Two, I would need the crib. And the changing table. And the Diaper Genie. Three, I would need more money. So I could afford the bigger apartment. And the nursery equipment. Not to mention the nanny, since I'd have to keep working to pay for it all. "Aren't you forgetting something?" Amy would ask. I'd stare at her blankly. Crib. Changing table. Diaper Genie. Bigger apartment. Nanny. More money. And then it would dawn on me. "A stroller." "I see," she'd say, doubling over and slapping her leg. "So you're still planning on reproducing asexually." For a while, I wasn't planning on reproducing at all. I thought I might just kidnap my niece and spare myself all the trouble and aggravation: Why risk having a child you might not like when there's already an existing child you adore? At first, my older sister, Lynn, was entertained by such displays of my passionate aunthood. Then, as the first year passed and moved into the second, and Nicole--"the Pickle"--became more and more of an animal, Lynn began to really latch on to the idea. "You can have her," she'd say, staring at the floor where the screeching wailing flailingZigman, Laura is the author of 'Dating Big Bird' with ISBN 9780385333405 and ISBN 0385333404.