By ice rivers
My birthday is December 30th.
December 30th is also the birthday of Tracey Ullman, Sandy Koufax, Rudyard Kipling and Tiger Woods. I'm not adept at imitating people. I write a better poem than throw a curveball but I don't see a Jungle Book in my future although I can usually keep my head while others are losing theirs. I'm not going into the baseball Hall of Fame. I'm sure as hell not going to get my own show on HBO. My golf game is a disastrous art still in progress if decline can be called progress.
Tracey, Sandy, Rudy and Tiger were born on the right day.
I only weighed five pounds at birth. I was foolishly, impetuously premature. I was so small and sickly that the doctors didn't think I'd last seventy hours much less the 70 years I've survived so far. Only the faith, prayers and brave love of my mother along with my own stubborness got me out of the hospital, let's call it a month early.
Why didn' I wait?
I wish I would have been born January 30th rather than December 30th. If I had been born on January 30th, I would have entered school at five going on six rather than four going on five. My best friend in grammar school, Dogs, was born on January 9th. He was ten days short of a year older than I all during our schoolboy days. He was taller, stronger, smarter, more mature, faster and braver. Hey, the guy was twenty percent older than me when we started the game.
When it came to sports, I was much more successful competing with the kids in the grade below me rather than the kids in my class. I could have been a contender instead of the little guy.
As far as grades went, I more than held my own with my older classmates but that was only because of the miracle that I could read, write and spell almost from the get go. Plus the nuns thought I was cute and always encouraged me. One day, one of them told me I should become a teacher.
Besides putting me at a disadvantage with my schoolmates, my birthday also comes at the most anti-climactic of times: five days after Christmas and one day before New Years Eve which means double duty presents. ("here's your birthday AND your Christmas present") and interfering parties ("we;ll celebrate your birthday party during our New Years eve party this year")
To make matters worse, exactly 12 years after my birth, my mother gave birth to my sister. Yep, Terri was born, non-prematurely and in radiant good health on Dec 30th 1958. "Here's the best gift of all son..a baby sister. Just think this precious gift will present itself for celebration on this day for the REST OF YOUR LIFE."
By the late fifties, schools had recognized the scholastic and emotional difficulties that children born in late December had keeping up with thei classmates so they moved the enrollment date back to December 1rst. My sister, on top of ripping off my birthday FOREVER also got the advantage in school placement where I had the disadvantage.
To further complicate matters, my Mother's birthday is on Christmas so forever the holidays lined up in importance like this: 1) Mom's birthday 2)Christmas 3) Terri's birthday, 4) New Years Eve 5) my birthday.
Forty years ago, I started pretending that my birthday was in mid-July. Whenever they played the major league baseball all star game, well that was my birthday. That grim facade worked for awhile but soon became so delusional and awkward to explain that I abandoned the charade a a score and a half ago. I've been holding on to the 30th ever since.
1999 was sort of special as it was the second last birthday anyone would have in the twentieth century....good but still second rather than last.
I've grown up since then.
I've finally figured out why I didn't wait.
I know why I hurried.
If I had been born a month later, I might have had a better curveball.
I might be sinking a few more putts.
I might have been wealthy.
I might have written a best seller.
Instead, I ended up with the best job of all.
I became a teacher.