May 26th 1981:
It was a Tuesday when they induced my mother. It was a Tuesday because they do not schedule inductions on weekends or holidays, and Memorial day had been the day before. So it was a Tuesday.
They say Tuesday's child is full of Grace. That is a load of crap.
I was only two days late, but they feared that since my mother had such a fast labor with my older brother that she would get stuck in Houston traffic while in labor and deliver me on the side of the highway. Have you ever been in Houston traffic? Well then you understand it is a very real possibility.
My mother was alone in the hospital. Her brother was out of town, her sister was in Colorado attending her fiancees graduation from the Air Force Academy, her parents were in Connecticut, and my father was not worth the carbon he was constructed from and had opted to simply not show up for the birth as he had more important things to do.
After several hours of labor the doctors began running around looking a little too panicky for my mothers taste. No matter how many times she asked what was wrong they all ignored her. That is they ignored her until she managed to catch some poor intern who passed to close to her by the shirt and proceeded to hold him hostage until someone told her what was going on.
I was breach. I had worked my hand over my head and they couldn't deliver me in that position. The doctor assured my mother it would be fine, they would just tickle me and get me to pull my arm back. My mother asked how they were going to manage that, and she wasn't really thrilled with the answer.
It apparently took them an hour to get me to pull my arm back into a deliverable position. Considering how ticklish I am now I find this quite funny. I guess I was stubborn even before I came out.
It was lunch time when I finally made my appearance; bald, screaming, and as red as an over ripe tomato. The doctor held me up for my mother to see. I was covered in slime, wailing at the top of my lungs, and a really unnatural shade of red. Without giving her much time to ponder on her new baby girl they whisked me away to be cleaned up and went about taking care of her.
The first thing she did when she got back to her room was call her sister in Colorado. The first thing she said to anyone about me was to tearfully declare to my aunt "I had a baby girl, and she is ugly!"
She insists once the slime was gone and I had breathed enough to turn the color of a baby and not fresh produce, I was beautiful, though still bald.
May 26th 1987:
I was a spoiled brat. A complete and total spoiled brat. At some point I was shown the movie Gone With the Wind, and I wanted nothing more in the world than to have a Gone With the Wind themed birthday party. I got what I wanted.
My mother had little ruffly antebellum dresses made for me and six of my friends in the style worn in the barbecue scene from the movie. We had wide brimmed straw hats, white gloves, and lace parasols. There was a carriage ride arranged through downtown San Antonio. She even bought me a copy of the movie, which I am told was over $200 since it was a collectors box set.
Every detail was perfect.
Every detail except for the fact that the birthday girl was in a foul mood. I woke up that morning cranky as could be. My mother was trying to curl my hair and put makeup on me, but I wanted nothing to do with it. Once I got something set in my mind there was no changing it, and I did not want makeup on. From that point on in the day I pouted.
My mother will tell you I was in a foul mood from the moment I woke up. I can't really give any good excuses, I was six years old. Maybe that is excuse enough. She says she could have happily sold me that day. I really couldn't have blamed her if she had.
The entire event is well documented. There are no end of pictures of beautiful little girls in fantastic dresses with big smiles on their faces. Then there is me pouting. There is a beautiful picture taken from far away of my mother and I in a gazebo. It looks like we are sharing a loving mother daughter moment. In reality she is gripping down on my shoulders telling me to get happy or else!
My grandfather actually shot video of the whole thing. Unfortunately it had been raining all day and the humidity ruined the tape. All you could do was hear my grandfather talking the images were a blurry mess. It was the last of my birthdays he was alive for.
I was a wretched spoiled brat.
I grew out of that.
May 25th 1998:
A birthday on Memorial day is not really inconvenient, but a birthday at the end of May guarantees that eventually someone will graduate on your birthday. I was turning 17 and my brother was graduating from High School the same day. It was sort of a foregone conclusion that my birthday would be overlooked.
I had had a string of bad birthdays since my Gone With the Wind fiasco. There was my 13th birthday when I was violently ill. There was also my 14th birthday when everyone chose to go to another friends birthday part instead of mine. That is just a couple of good examples that stick out in my mind.
To try and prevent this from being another one for the books we decided to celebrate my birthday the entire week. If I was going to be forgotten on the actual day of my birth then I totally deserved to have a little more fun than usual.
Everclear was playing in Austin that week. They were my favorite band at the time and my aunt bought tickets for me and my best friend to go. My brother and his girlfriend got to come along to chaperone us, though honestly I did not see them the entire night. I was so excited that I could have burst, I had never been to a concert before.
We had only just stepped inside of Austin Music Hall when we were practically ambushed by a girl from our school that we really did not like. She was a vapid twit as far as we were concerned. We were both surprised to see her there because none of the bands playing that night were in the style of music she listened to. What caught us most was the fact that hanging around her neck was a back stage and VIP pass. Our hatred for her vaulted immediately.
We quickly separated ourselves from her, not wanting to waste our time on someone we disliked when there was fun to be had, and made our way to the barrier at the front of the stage. I am not sure I had ever been that excited before. We picked a spot almost at the edge of the stage left side, and we were determined not to move so we would be as close as possible to the band.
I recall there was a group of what at the time we thought of as old people there. In reality they were probably the age I am now. They apparently thought we were adorable and decided to watch over us. On at least two occasions, without asking us if we wanted or needed anything, they went and bought us bottles of water so we wouldn't risk losing our spot.
During Everclear's set we were glued to the railing screaming like the hysterical teenage girls we were. Despite it not really mosh pit sort of concert, a small roving pit of violence had formed at the far side of the crowd. Slowly the mosh pit moved at us. The rowdy group was sucking in anyone who was in their path like a music driven rage whirlpool.
Despite the fact that we were clinging to the rails, there was no way we weren't going to be pulled in. My best friend was tiny, less than 5' tall, and weighed practically nothing. While she was tough, she was going to be eaten alive by the pit. I felt her hand on my arm as we were both about to be sucked back into the mob of swinging elbows and thrashing body parts, when suddenly there was a wall of man between us and them.
One of the 'old' guys was this massive man, probably the size of the husbeast. He had seen what was inevitable and simply decided to stop it. He stood behind us and placed a hand firmly on either side of us to make sure we weren't going anywhere if we didn't want to. The pit raged around us, but we never felt a thing. I imagine that his backside took quite a good beating while he stood guard over us.
Later on, once we were safe from the passing danger of moshing teens, he stayed close at hand in case anything else went wrong. He even obliged my friends desire to crowd surf by picking her up and flinging her like a ragdoll backwards into the waiting arms of the crowd. He offered to throw me too, but I politely declined, preferring to keep my feet firmly on the ground.
Towards the end of Everclear's encore the bass player started pulling people up from the audience. There was no way I was going to be able to crawl over the barrier and onto the stage without face planting, even with a hand up. My best friend though was tiny enough, and he was reaching right for us. She grabbed his hand and I gave her a knee to vault off of. Just as she made it off of the ground some opportunistic girl from the audience used the two of us like a ladder, and scrambled up and into the bassists waiting arms. We were both pissed off as she was the last person they pulled on stage.
Still it was an exhilarating experience.
Many months later I was sitting at the theater recruiting table at Freshman orientation. The vapid twit came bounding over and plopped down to chat somehow completely missing the looks of disdain I was casting her way. She of course brought up the concert which was the only tie the two of us really had.
For a minute I listened to her babble on and on about the concert and her uncle Joey. I finally had to stop her and ask who she was talking about. It was her turn to look at me like I was an idiot. Her uncle was Joey Shuffield, the drummer for Fastball, who was a local Austin band just starting to do good for themselves at that time. They had been the opening band for Everclear that night.
It at least explained the backstage passes.
I stared at her mouth slightly agape as she began rambling again about how she had gotten to go backstage and into the VIP area. She talked about the weird old guys with the crazy beards that she had been talking to, and I almost swallowed my tongue as I barely vocalized the name ZZ Top. She could only shrug. She had no idea who they were other than 'old dudes with crazy long beards'.
When she asked me finally how I had liked the concert I dumbly mumbled that it was good and how it had been a birthday present. She let out a long cry and frowned at me. If only she had known, she said, if only she had known she would have asked her uncle to get me and my friend backstage to meet the bands. If only I had told her.
It was still a cool concert even if I missed out on it being crazy amazing because I was a judgmental twit.
May 27th 2000:
I had been away at college for a year. I was turning 19 and the summer session was just about to start and I had an off campus apartment. SFASU was considered one of the top three party schools in the state at the time, and theater majors took quite a bit of pride in our parties. It was a recipe for disaster (my mother is going to love this story).
My roommate and I planned the party for weeks in advance. My birthday was the perfect excuse to throw a huge bash. Our friends that were over 21 were more than happy to provide us with copious amounts of alcohol. There were bowls of jello shots which we served with a spoon in exchange for a kiss. There were buckets of nookie juice, which was a combination of vodka, Sprite, and melted down gummy bears. There was enough cheap beer and wine to drown a frat. It was going to be stellar.
My roommate promised to stay sober for the event so that I could have all the fun that I wanted. I took this promise to heart and partied with gusto. I was so drunk I am surprised I remember anything of the night. There were so many people that they filled the downstairs of our little apartment and flooded out into the picturesque courtyard of our 18 unit French Quarter themed complex.
The night was actually going remarkably well. We had partied for hours without incident. Then things changed quite suddenly sometime probably around midnight.
I was inside giggling with friends when suddenly a flood of people came pouring in the front door in a panic. Cops! They all ran inside slamming the front door and heading straight out the backdoor. We were almost all underage so the urge to run was high.
The back door opened up onto the street, and as soon as the french doors opened I could see the cops waiting out back to catch anyone fleeing the scene. It was a perfect sort of trap. I was apparently sober enough to slam the door and not let anyone out.
We were trapped.
Someone found me in the crowd and began dragging me to the door. I was being told I had to talk to the cops because it was my apartment. I insisted that I couldn't do that. I was drunk and I was underage. I told them to find my roommate as she was supposed to be sober and handling this.
That was when I was told she was drunk and passed out in the upstairs bathroom. I stared at them dumbly; she had promised. It turns out her date was late and she thought he had stood her up. She had gotten blasted in melancholy response to the supposed slight.
In short; I was on my own.
A list of instructions were thrown at me as I was reluctantly shoved towards the door. Do not let them come in no matter what. They have to ask permission and as long as I said no I was fine. Be polite. Don't act drunk.
I was doomed.
As I stepped out the front door, which I closed securely behind me, I was greeted by two officers standing in a semi circle of about eight of my friends; every single person who was over 21 at the party. The first thing they asked was if they could come in, I resolutely but politely told them no. They then asked for my ID. Of course it was inside so I had to go back in to find it. Once I had produced the license they told me the party was too loud, and I promised adamantly that we would move inside and turn off the stereo.
Every question they asked me I answered clearly and calmly. The only reason I could do this was my friends who were casually standing behind them. The cops would ask a question and my friends would nod yes or no for me to parrot back as a response.
In the end they had to leave since they hadn't actually caught anyone with a drink in their hand and had no reason to enter the apartment. They wished me a happy birthday as they walked away. Needless to say the party broke up as soon as the cops were out of sight.
I went to bed disheartened at the cops busting my party, pissed off at my roommate who was sleeping off her drunk in the bathtub, and upset by the realization that come morning I was going to have a nightmare clean up to do most likely by myself. We had been smart and moved anything breakable upstairs before the party, but that didn't save me from all the trash, dirty dishes, and sticky messes everywhere.
When I awoke in the morning though I came down stairs to a breakfast made for a hangover and a sparkling apartment, including all of our breakables back in their place. My roommate had friends crashing with us from out of town, and they had decided to give me the birthday present of not having to pick up after my own birthday party.
Best present ever.
May 26th 2012:
The possibilities are endless...