Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heaven in '67?

I remember very little of my birth.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised. I must have been paying attention—it’s hardly the sort of thing one sleeps through, or of which I could have been blissfully unaware. After nine months of nothing but lounging and kick-paddling around my personal heated pool (indoors, no less), at least something was breaking the unrelenting tedium.

So I should remember. It did involve a vagina, after all, even if it was (shudder) my mother’s.

When choosing the winning nominee from this very limited engagement, it’s really a toss-up. My mother, the doctor—or me.

Mom had worked this script once before, so she was basically typecast. And if she was playing a repeat role, the doctor most certainly was. Day after day, broken vagina after broken vagina, pretty much the exact same thing—like Jeff Goldblum's characters in every movie he's in.

In those days, nervous fathers weren’t invited to wade knee-deep in the carnage, so the only credit my Dad could claim was a brief supporting role the previous spring. Kudos, pops…that stuff must have been gunpowder.

So that leaves one stand-out performer: me. A stunning turn, and in my first time in the limelight. Thank you, I accept.

But what’s my excuse for drawing a blank about what was arguably the most important day of my life?

My Mom was never a drinker—in fact, my parents’ liquor cabinet sports 10-year-old whisky that recently celebrated its 20th birthday. So my failed memories didn’t marinate for 270-some-odd nights in a tepid bath of second-hand cognac. “Crack Babies” weren’t even available in those days.

And while the experience may not have been a cakewalk for my Mom—I’m sure through no fault of my own—I doubt my experience of being squeezed out, like an imprisoned chimpanzee easing toward the open end of a toothpaste tube, could have been, well, comfortable. At the very least, though, it should have been noteworthy.

And then there’s the circumcision (again, shudder). This I’m shocked I don’t remember. If you surprised me today by strapping me down and doing ambush penis reduction surgery with a scalpel, trust me—I’d remember. Should you hover over my deathbed and lean in to catch my last words, I’m pretty sure they’d be, “Give me back my cock.”


So, I must apologize. To unravel this mystery, I’m forced to marry a conservative sprinkling of creative license with the somewhat less glamorous (and therefore questionable) lore recounted by others present. I’m sure I’ll hit pretty close to the truth. Could you do better?

January 7, 1967. Along the sandy northern shore of Lake Ontario, three learned wise men lead exhausted camels laden with gold, frankincense and myrrh in pursuit of a brilliant star. Uncertain of either purpose or destination, they trudge on—stopping only to resuscitate a dying lamb in their path—knowing they will soon bear witness to the miracle of all miracles.

Oh, wait. Wrong birth. Damn you, Little Drummer Boy. And damn you, too, brain…why must you torment me with the stop-motion specials of my misspent youth? Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum. Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum. Out of my head, demons!

January 7, 1967. In a small town nestled against the sandy northern shore of Lake Ontario, a young mother awakens early, and greets the glorious dawn with a gentle yawn and a broad smile. She rolls over and plants a tender kiss on the stubbly cheek of her sleeping husband. He too smiles. The dream he’s relished for months, awash in the unbridled joy with which he’ll soon be blessed, allows him to linger one last moment in its warm embrace.

She whispers in his ear, softly, “Hey, sleepyhead. Rise and shine, my prince. I think it’s time.”

His smile broadens, and his eyes ease open. He doesn’t even look like he’s been sleeping.

“Oh, is it? Well then, fair lady, I suppose we’d best be going.”

As they step out the front door of their house and into an unseasonably warm and vibrant morning, bluebirds swoop happily to and fro, humming and whistling. The young couple tosses an overnight bag into the back seat of their car, starts the engine (on the first try) and begins the short trek to the hospital. The bluebirds dive into a synchronized pursuit, bathing the journey in a song as bright as the sunshine that seems to wash everything in its golden glow.

“Are you okay, honey?” my father asks, tossing her another of his dreamlike smiles.

“Feeling a bit of a pinch, but nothing I’d let spoil this special moment.” In spite of the twinge, she giggles.

“You’re a trooper,” my Dad chuckles, and shucks my mother on the chin.

In mere minutes, the joyous couple arrives at the front of the hospital, where an army of handsome doctors and nurses ease my mother into a lushly padded wheelchair. A bluebird lands on the arm, jiggles its wings jauntily, and tweets sweetly at my mother. She tweets back.

A valet opens the car door for my father and, when he gets out, hops into the seat and whisks the vehicle away to the best space in the parking lot (where, inexplicably, no snow has fallen, ever.) My Dad scowls at himself for forgetting to give a generous tip. My Mom play-scolds him.

“Bob, you can’t be everyone’s hero. Isn’t it enough to be hero to me?”

My Dad’s frown melts away, revealing an even bigger smile.

“Oh, Bev, I just love you so.”

“And I you, my dearest Superman. And I you.”

The nurse now: “Are you ready to go?”

My mother holds up her index finger and whisper-pleads, “Just a second.” She draws in one more deep breath of fresh air, and then beams even more broadly.

“Oh, look. It’s a rainbow. Look, Bob. It must be from the sunlight on my tears.”

My Dad gazes adoringly at my mother, and then glances at his watch. It’s 7:15. He lands a peck on my Mom-to-be’s nose, and wipes a happy tear from his own. He mouths “Showtime!” and stares yearningly as my Mom is wheeled away. She looks back.

My Dad’s grin is ten times more alive than the rainbow.

At 7:30, with one final little pinch, their greatest dreams become reality. My mother cradles me in her arms, hoping to shield me from the ten thousand or so completely stupid things I’m certain to do before I reach adulthood (we’ll get to that.) For a few moments, she forgets completely about my father. She especially forgets the other child, David. He now seems a mere practice round before the main event. I will learn to pity him in time; you should as well.

Soon, my father arrives with three dozen roses and a box of cigars he’s flown in special from Cuba. My mother’s initial pang of irritation at the intrusion (and his incessant joyful whistling) is washed away by a sudden realization. What she has created is too special—too divine, dare I say—to keep to herself. She posits, aloud, “Surely such magic isn’t meant to be hoarded away from others? Like a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt, isn’t he meant to be shared by all?”

My Dad can’t be angry, or feel slighted—his euphoria wouldn’t put up with it. He swoons, and catches himself against the door frame.

“Whoa! That kid is a looker.”

“Yes, oh yes. Isn’t he just precious?” She tickles me under the chin. I coo. I think about saying, “Mama”, but realize one miracle a day is enough.

“Worth more than all the emeralds in the world, pet. And more brilliant and beautiful by far.”

“Oh, I know.” And then great, hitching sobs of joy erupt from her. “I know.”

My Dad falls to his knees, his great sobs quickly drowning out my mother’s. “Oh Lord, why have you chosen to be so utterly generous? Are we even worthy of such a great bounty?” He then hides his mouth with his hand and, out of the Lord’s earshot, whispers to my mother, “Are we?”

From Heaven, God shoves his hands into his robe pockets, nods and grins, sheepishly. The temperature outside the hospital jumps ten degrees. I presume He wants to say something but, from what I’ve heard, His English isn’t great. My parents don’t even notice the cherubim—a nice touch, I thought—floating above.

“Oh, Bob. It’s been so… No, he’s so…” Even through her tears, she’s a thousand candles burning out of control. “He’s so perfect.”

“Yes, my sweet. It has truly been a magical day.” He claps his hands together. “And this is truly a glorious thing we have done.”

Next time: My parents clarify a few of the finer details.



  1. What a lovely blog you have here!! I loved this part:

    “Yes, oh yes. Isn’t he just precious?” She tickles me under the chin. I coo. I think about saying, “Mama”, but realize one miracle a day is enough.

    Haha! I always have this image that babies can in fact understand everything you say and just smile and laugh so you don't feel stupid when you talk in a 'baby' voice to babies...ehm you know what I mean right ^_^?

    Thanks for sharing this piece! It's lovely written and captivating!

  2. I was wondering when your parents were going to enter the picture and say, "Whoa, that's not how it happened, son." Can't wait to read the next part. :)

  3. Yeah, that sounds like a typical day in the maternity ward. It's clear that you remember everything about that day, and I especially love your attention to detail.
    (This was hilarious. I can't wait to read more of your blog.)

  4. Very off the wall funny! I am looking forward to more of this!

  5. Spoken like a true Capricorn male.

  6. Wow! This is good stuff. I hurriedly scanned this piece and I realized I must come back to reread it.

    I'm here because of your visit at my site and your kind comments about my Halloween tale, "A Bit of Candy." It is especially gratifying to receive compliments from a published author.

    As I am half-dressed for work, I will sign off, but not without first bookmarking your

    I'll be back.

  7. That's not the story Uncle Bob and Aunt Bev told me. Or was it Dave?


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