Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In The Beginning...

I was born on February 11. It was all pretty much downhill from there.

Actually, that's not entirely accurate. It was mostly downhill from there. That afternoon, there was universal rejoicing across the Earth and sky. It's easy to let that go to one's head, until one realizes that there is universal rejoicing at each and every live birth that's ever taken place anywhere, since the beginning of time. The start of a new life, however traumatic it may be for both individuals directly involved in the birth, is always a miracle. Even the birth of a Hitler or a Darth Vader is miraculous, because most evil is learned, and that takes time. And so it was at my birth. Universal rejoicing. It was ridiculously loud, roaring into my little ears a hundred times louder than my own screams. I was suddenly freezing, and the world turned bright. There were lots of blobby shapes moving all around me, poking at me, making an awful racket. The light stung my eyes, the air stung my tiny lungs and suddenly I felt really heavy. After all the poking and prodding and handling, I was wrapped up and handed to one of the blobs. This one didn't poke or prod at all; it just held me gently. This blob was soft and warm and made much nicer sounds than the other blobs. This one seemed very glad to see me.

"Joseph Something Blognomen. Born today at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland to proud parents Carl and Ellen Blognomen of Rockville. 8 pounds, 5 ounces. 20 1/2 inches. Two eyes, some hair. Mother and son are both resting comfortably, although son keeps complaining about how cold he is and asking the nurses to "turn off the [expletive] lights." Not surprisingly, he looks exactly like a miniature Winston Churchill. He has an older sister, Mary and an older brother, John. Well of course they're older. How could he have younger siblings?

"The boy's brain is already highly developed. In fact, he will be much smarter than most people, just not nearly as smart as he'll think he is. Sadly, this vast intelligence will be badly underutilized, due in large part to the boy's freakishly-huge laziness gland. Bet you didn't know that "lazy" was secreted by a gland. Well it is. He's expected to be a C-plus or B-minus student, disappointing his parents and teachers who will occasionally glimpse his unapplied potential. This mediocrity will be a source of constant frustration for him, but he'll rarely have the energy to bother being great at anything. He will be perceptive but rather short of tolerance. He'll be creative, but this too will be stifled by his own inertia. His most consistent trait will be his penchant for inconsistency; he'll learn to hate having people figure him out. He'll become very good at pushing people's buttons. His parents will take great pleasure in attending back-to-school nights, where they'll get to play 'Spot the teacher that will eventually call us about Joe's behavior.' The boy's exploits as a difficult student and class clown will give his kin virtually limitless material for family gatherings forever.

"His parents adore him, although thay were overheard telling one of the nurses that they're pretty sure 'this is the kid who will one day be brought home in a police car.' His decision-making will always leave much to be desired. He'll spend his life one year behind every trend. When he finally learns to quickly jump on bandwagons, he'll invariably buy the wrong model, color or style of whatever it is. He'll be laid-off every three years, earning him 'frequent fired' points at the Maryland Unemployment Office. He will eventually accept his fate, and with his second wife sell everything and move to Key West. There, she will wait tables and he will drive the Conch Tour Train and they'll live on fresh fruit, cheeseburgers and margaritas. The only Mallory Square sunset celebrations they will ever miss will be the ones that occur during the Super Bowl or the NCAA Basketball Tournament."