Here's something to make you wish you'd crunched down on that cyanide capsule a bit sooner – people are buying and selling positive pregnancy tests on the internet. What began on – where else? – Craigslist in the US, has crossed the urine-infused pond and arrived here.
It's an industry that has been booming in the States for some time. Some of the tests are proper "joke" ones, manufactured and packaged and – as a quick search on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter shows – used as such, with variously hilarious and/or distressing results. As well as the ones that already show a false positive result (for brandishing aloft once you emerge from the loo), there are tests designed to show a positive result whoever wees on them. These are equal-opportunity gags – a man can give one to his partner and fool her into thinking she's pregnant rather than the other way around. What japes!
Others are the real, pee-soaked deal. It's hard to imagine any good coming of a plan that requires this. Best-case scenario: they're all being bought by teenage girls with a deep loathing of swimming who want to see if the next step up from having their periods will soften unsympathetic games teachers' attitudes towards them, but haven't really thought the whole thing through. Or maybe it's the new status symbol – a modern update of the lovebite or chlamydia. The most obvious use, though, is for "trapping" a man into marriage. This may be a much less common event than your average terrified misogynist believes, but the internet is, God knows, there to help us indulge all our worst impulses.
And then there's revenge. A buyer in Dallas has shelled out for a genuine test because, after five years and two children together, her partner got his receptionist pregnant while the couple themselves were trying for another baby. "He texted and said he isn't sure who he wants to be with and I think I handled it well for what a cheating, lying dog he is. I would like the last laugh out of this. I will give some girl $40 [for a positive test]."
The sellers themselves seem to wish to keep a degree of plausible deniability attached to their entrepreneurial endeavours. "I am pregnant and will sell you my positive pregnancy test for $20," writes one woman from NYC. "I don't care what you need them for."
Though this industry seemed to be taking off in the UK – one seller sold 29 tests in December alone – as of this morning there has been a glitch: the two main British sellers, after being contacted by the Guardian, have taken their adverts down. A shame, really, as they at least had some pretensions to decorum. One added after her punctilious description of the item ("Used. Posted with original box, leaflets, and in foil packet. Tests may vary slightly from photo, and lines can sometimes vary in colour too") the cheery wish that everybody "have fun pranking friends and family with this positive test!".
Other methods of fooling your partner – you know, for fun – are outlined in a comprehensive wiki entry and include drawing the appropriate lines on an unused test's window, buying two gag sticks to make the prank more convincing and remembering to muse upon your possibly preggo state a few days before April Fool's Day so you can execute the sting effectively when 1 April dawns. How he'll laugh! Possibly.
In the US, the market has developed to such a degree that you can now choose between different classes of test, with some sellers offering the sticks that you can buy in the US equivalent of our Poundstretcher, while others specialise in higher-class hormone-detecting fare. "This will not be a dollar-store test," one promises. "Will be either Clearblue First Response or EPT." A test not only of pregnancy but also of the dictum that all publicity is good publicity.
Oh, and you can follow up with some fake ultrasounds too, all available for a reasonable price from quite unreasonable people. You might as well go for it. After all, we obviously shouldn't be bringing anything other than fake babies like this into this world.