My mom likes to tell the story of when I was born, but I think it's important to hear it from my point of view. Most of it is true; though the names have been changed to protect their innocence.
It was the most beautiful day that there ever was. OK, OK. It wasn't "the most beautiful" but it was a nice day. She was sitting at home, watching soap operas—I mean, doing something smart like The New York Times Crossword and reciting her state capitals—when all of a sudden I started to kick.
"Oh #*$@, I think those are contractions!"
She called my dad, who worked 20 minutes away, and, in an extremely calm and pleasant voice, said, "If you don't get home in less than five minutes and drive me to the hospital I swear I'll name this kid Garfunkel." Four minutes later, he was unlocking the door and grabbing her overnight bag.
The ride to the hospital took even less time. Stop signs were ignored. Speed limits didn't exist. Pedestrians did not have the right of way. They pulled up to the front of the hospital and rushed inside. After only a few minutes of waiting, they got upstairs and into the birthing room.
Now my mom has her opinion on how long and painful the experience was, but she obviously was drugged and delusional. I like to think that the labor was as comfortable as a weeklong massage, as smooth as a Ken Griffey Jr. swing and as exciting as a Donnie Osmond solo. It may have been the second greatest moment in history, just after the invention of the Pop Tart.
As I made my way down the water slide known as the birth canal, I said goodbye to my neighbors, Keith the Kidney and Belinda the Bladder. "World, here I come!" When my head popped out, I winked at the doctor letting him know that I was ready. Moments later, I was born.
They cut my umbilical cord (or umbiblical cord, as I apparently have been calling it for years) and handed me to my mom. I had a round head, a full noggin of hair and a face that would make your average Gerber baby jealous. Both my mom and dad stared at me with tears in their eyes, proud as could be. I responded the only way I knew how—by farting.
"Definitely his father's son."
The next day, plenty of people visited me in the hospital. So many new faces. So many people holding me. So many fingers pinching my cheeks—both facial and non-facial! My features quickly began to change. My eyes became darker, my smile brighter and my hair began falling out (a trend that would make a revival later in my life). Some folks thought I looked like an angel. My mom, on the other hand, thought I looked like Ed Asner.
I was getting acclimated to the new world as much as the new world was getting acclimated to me. At the time, I didn't know what my life would hold. I didn't know that my parents would raise me to be a smart and loving adult. I didn't know that I'd have a sister who'd idolize me (oh yes, Jennie, you do). I didn't know I'd have friends that would pick me up when I was down. I didn't know that I'd meet the most amazing girl in the world, marry her and then get her to carry my baby.
I just didn't know how wonderful my life would be.
And, as I sit here at my keyboard, contemplating the life-altering event that's less than eight weeks away, I thank my lucky stars. Not so much because my life is wonderful, but more because I wasn't named Garfunkel.