SAUK PRAIRIE, WI—Area high-school graduate and part-time gas-station attendant Greg Peters, 18, was eternally imprisoned Monday by the healthy birth of his son Herman, a seven-pound, three-ounce child delivered by Lisa Sandveldt, Peters' girlfriend of 17 months, at Sauk Prairie Community Hospital.
"I guess I wouldn't have picked the name Herman, but that's what Lisa wanted, so I guess it's okay," Peters told reporters at a family reception to welcome the new arrival. "I think that's, like, her uncle's name or something. I'm not sure, really."
Smiling from ear to ear as she proudly showed off her newborn child to relatives and members of the press, Sandveldt said she is "totally ecstatic" over the blessed event.
"I love Greg, and now he and I have a little one to share our love with forever," said Sandveldt, posing Herman for photographers while accepting warm wishes and gifts on the newborn's behalf.
Added Sandeveldt, "Forever and ever and ever."
When asked whether he agreed with Sandveldt's assessment of the baby as "the most adorable, beautiful, precious thing on God's Earth, like an angel sent down from Heaven," Peters said, "Sure."
Though Peters had never planned to impregnate Sandveldt, and had only been dating her because "I just kind of wanted to get laid," his imprisonment is nevertheless total and irrevocable.
"Now that she's, like, had a baby and everything, I guess I have to marry her," Peters said. "Don't get me wrong–I like Lisa. I just never really thought of her as somebody I'd be spending every second of the rest of my life with."
"Oh, well," he added. "Too late to do anything about it now, huh?"
Like most adult males who impregnate and marry the first woman with whom they have sex, Peters' personal development, self-identity and worldview are likely to freeze at this point, preventing him from ever advancing to more complicated modes of thinking. He is also expected to grow to despise Sandveldt's very existence in as little as 18 months–a mere fraction of the time he will ultimately spend with her.
Those who know Peters reacted with surprise when they first heard of the pregnancy, citing the young man's oft-stated plans to "get the hell out of this shit-water backwoods-ass town" just as soon as he had saved enough money to repair his '74 Dodge Dart.
"He was always talking about how it would only be a few more months before he'd blow the dust of this town off his shoes once and for all," said Fred Shankley, 29, Peters' manager at the Park Street Amoco station and himself a father of five. "I know he had some sort of scholarship to that big state university down in Madison, and he said he was really looking forward to majoring in history or some such thing. But I guess he ain't going noplace now."
Peters' friend Jim Goerk agreed. "Me and Greg were going to move to Madison together and be roommates. We had all these plans to start a Zeppelin cover band, and I'd play drums. He said he really wanted to travel, and we thought maybe we could land a job on one of those Alaskan fishing boats in the summers, so we could see the world. But now, we can't even get drunk at the bar together, let alone travel the seven seas."
Rev. Kyle Knopf, pastor of Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church, where the Peters family has worshiped for the last 40 years, said: "Young Greg has a long, hard road ahead of him. He's got to provide for his baby until Herman is full-grown—in other words, until the child is as old as Greg is now. That's a big commitment."
"And that's not all," Knopf continued. "Greg's fatherly duties will continue long after the child grows up. When little Herman has children, Greg will be the grandfather of those children, and, should something happen to Herman, it would be Greg's responsibility to care for them. This newborn babe will be with Greg until he draws his last breath, forever hanging over him like the mythical sword of Damocles, ever-present and inescapable so long as he lives."
"At least he's always got the church to turn to," Knopf said.