Birthday

February 29th, 1980, and my dad is pacing. Leap Year Day. Year of the Monkey. Out of the jungle and into the shopping mall. Pisces. Still wet. Both unnatural and natural, nature and nurture. A bionic organism born to human parents. My dad draws a tense breath, exhales.

You could smoke in waiting rooms back then. But the dad was discouraged from entering the birthing room. Germs and things, probably. Or dads make for bad midwives. Female nurses and male doctors only. It wasn’t an official rule any longer, just a deep-seated prejudice and perhaps not without cause. My dad, for one, was all nerves and tendons. Less than 200 pounds of muscle that could nonetheless move 350 straight upwards. Leave the delicate work to the female nurses and male doctor.

dad-and-me

Yet here he is, holding me up to his cheek, me sound asleep, no idea just how secure these arms are, just sleeping like the days-old baby I am. Drooling and dreaming of the womb. It was warm in there, the womb.

That’s why I started hollering before the rest of my body was born. “No deal,” I skillfully argued. “This contract is null and void. Put my head back in that womb or you’ll hear from my lawyer.” I paused for effect, drooling my first drool, ordered my abductors to cease and desist, but ultimately lost the case. The verdict was unanimous. I was guilty of being born, the minimum sentence for which was 27 years of life, with an upward limit of 120 years for good behavior.

It all seems backwards, even today. I tried protesting and all I got was breath. Reality and I never did get along too well. Life. It’s just so illogical.

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