This is what happened to me, the day you were born.
Woke up, checked my email, got mad at your Dad. This happens probably less often than you may imagine. Why I got mad at him isn’t important, it was a dumb reason, but it is important to know that I was only really mad at him for about 45 minutes. I got mad, took a shower, was still mad, wrote him an email but didn’t send it, decided to call him up.
He answered from the hospital, and suddenly I wasn’t mad any more. I hung up quick, ’cause your Dad was pretty busy at the time and I didn’t want to bug him.
I sent off a revised email, also part of the getting-mad-and-fixing-it process (you have to fix stuff like that as fast as possible. It’s ok to get mad at your friends, just don’t stay mad), then I just generally goofed off for a while. I think I paced around my house some, kind of waiting until it was lunch time and I could start my typical Saturday routine– lunch at the pizza joint, with a book.
As it turned out I wasted more time than I thought I would, by taking a shower and taking my book in with me. It’s a habit, one I’m not prepared to call “bad,” but which nevertheless sometimes results in lateness or rushing to get somewhere because I didn’t notice time flying. Tempus fugittin’.
(By the way, the book in question was “Curse the Dark” by Laura Anne Gilman. If it turns out that you enjoy that kind of novel, it’ll gall your father to no end. But in the event, I do recommend “Curse the Dark” and the other two in the same series. Pretty fun.)
On this occasion I took the book into the shower and wound up plugging the drain and sitting there as the water rose, reading. I’m a little bit strange. By the time you’re old enough to read this, maybe you’ll have decided that on your own.
I finally got out of the shower and dressed and grabbed that same book and got myself to the pizza joint and sat down in a booth eating my two slices and drinking my ice tea, when my cell phone rang. Remember cell phones?
It was my friend Amy, inviting me to the Dogwood Festival. Did you know you were born the weekend of the 2007 Atlanta Dogwood Festival? It was memorable mostly for its terrible weather.
I agreed to meet Amy later on but was determined to enjoy my pizza and my book for a bit before making the trek to Midtown. It was good pizza. I always order the same thing, and I go there often enough that the girl who works the counter rings me up as soon as I walk in the door. Even to this day! She’s been working there a long time.
I get a kick out of being a “regular,” even if it indicates some kind of neurotic predictability I should be worrying about. Makes me feel like Norm from “Cheers.” See, “Cheers” was this program on this thing called “television.” Ask your Dad.
There are some areas of life that benefit, in my opinion, from patterns repeated. Habits, routines. They’re comforting and secure. You can count on them. Occasionally you’ll feel a need to break out of the routine, and that’s ok– you’ll know when it’s time for such a change because you’ll start calling your routine a “rut”.
Eventually my pizza was gone and I’d had enough ice tea and reached a point in “Curse the Dark” where I felt comfortable leaving off for a while. I tear through these scifi and fantasy novels real fast. I finished the novel the next day.
Walking home was uneventful. The pizza place was just a few blocks from my house, an easy five minute stroll. The most interesting things about the stroll were the men’s boutique that I suddenly felt interested in (hardly noticed it up to then) and the two women sitting out front of the store called “Rock Star Gold” that just moved into the old Pharmacy a couple months before. Is it still there? I never knew how they stayed in business; nobody was ever in there.
The two women sitting on the bench in front of “Rock Star Gold” turned out to be less interesting than I thought. They looked sort of young at first glance, hence my initial interest, but they weren’t, and they were smoking. Remember when people smoked? Maybe you don’t. You can look it up though; people used to do it all the time. It’s kind of gross and smelly.
Ladies of their age smoking are just plain unattractive. Smoking wasn’t attractive on anybody really, although certain girls and certain guys could give it a sort of glamour that made people forget about the stinky, gross reality of it considering you’d probably never really have had a chance to meet those glamorous people even if they did go to the same bar as you all the time.
The point is, I walked home, got in my car, and headed to Midtown to meet up with Amy at the Dogwood Festival.
I parked in the garage I park in for work. It was pretty handy having my complimentary parking spot in a garage close to where the action happens in the city, although parking there on the weekend kind of made me feel like I never leave the office.
The Dogwood Festival was held at Piedmont Park. It was a big park and a pretty big festival. It might be covered in skyscrapers by the time you read this. The odds are kind of good, actually.
To find Amy, I called her up on this thing called a “cell” phone. Oh yeah, I asked you about those already. Right now people wonder what they ever did without cell phones. I wonder what you wonder how you ever lived without.
Without my cell phone, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to find Amy at this big festival in this big park without having planned it all in advance. The cell phone let me contact her and learn that she was “watching the dogs catch frisbees” so I knew just where to go find them. I just had to listen for the Loggins & Messina soundtrack all the dog handlers seemed to like to choreograph their routines to.
Amy was sitting with Justin, Sandy, and Jim. Justin is my across-the-street neighbor. He was studying to become a doctor, even though he was way past the time when most people start studying to become a doctor. Shame how that turned out. Anyway, I joined their little group, sitting on the ground, and watched the show.
You should go see some dogs catch frisbees, if you get a chance. It’s really cool, those little dogs. It was hard not to feel for them, racing around and just trying so hard even if their trainer couldn’t throw a frisbee to save his life. Sometimes it seemed like the dogs were all “man, can’t you throw that thing at all? You’re embarrassing me here.”
It’s hard to fathom how much energy is stored in those little bodies. You’d think that they couldn’t possibly do all that running and jumping and not just collapse. How long can you go, little dogs? It was a lot of fun, even though I got there too late to see the really good dogs. By the time you’re old enough to watch the dogs and really enjoy it, they’ll have had a few more years to refine their techniques and breed really awesome little frisbee-catcher dogs with specialized teeth and stuff and the show should be totally amazing. Maybe they’ll have little jet packs or something. Probably still use the same Loggins & Messina songs though.
It was threatening to rain, so after the dogs finished up we walked to Jim’s car and drove to the Righteous Room. The Righteous Room is this narrow bar next to a furniture store that went out of business, and this independent movie theater called the “Plaza” where they show really great, weird stuff like “Inland Empire” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The latter in 3-D no less.
Everybody but me got the grilled cheese sandwich. I got chicken wings, but because I wanted them, not just to be contrary. For the longest time I didn’t like chicken wings, but they’ve grown on me. Which is probably unfortunate since they’re just plain not good for you. Yeah, I know it seems weird, but there was a time when some foods weren’t beneficial to the human body. They made you fat (gradually, not all at once) and they gave you weird diseases that totally messed with your organs and stuff. And some of them could give you cancer if you were really unlucky. Remember cancer?
We had some beer too. It was Bass Ale, which I claimed was really a shortening of its true name, “Bad Ass Ale,” so called because it’s bad and it tastes like ass. My companions disagreed, and I drank it anyway because that’s what you do with beer you don’t like.
Oh, while we were at the Righteous Room, our friend Raffaela showed up. She’s pretty cool. She went to Africa for a couple of years, and once worked at a fish factory in Scotland. Do they still have Scotland?
After the Righteous Room, Jim drove me back to pick up my car. Then I drove over to Amy’s apartment to hang out before we went to see Patty Griffin at the Tabernacle. Yes, the Patty Griffin. I know it’s hard to fathom, but there was a time when most people had never heard of Patty Griffin.
My pal Rob (the other Rob, not your Dad. You know the one.) was on his way over after having been at a wedding. We sat around Amy’s place and watched this television show called “House.” It was about this irascible doctor who always saved his patient in the nick of time with really fancy diagnosing. Of course the patient had to almost die several times before Dr. House figures out what the hell is going on. And while he was figuring all this out, he was always telling the patient he was dying of like four different terrible diseases.
“You have cancer. Sorry.”
“No, wait, you don’t have cancer after all. It’s Multiple Sclerosis.”
“Ah, about that, it was really rabies all along.”
“Ok, I know we told you it was rabies, but really it was just that you’re allergic to Reebok. Just don’t wear Reebok and you’ll be fine. Phew, glad we figured that out in the final seconds before you died.”
Rob showed up, just in the nick of time for Dr. House to save his patient and we could head on out to the concert.
It was a great concert, as I don’t have to tell you. It was Patty Griffin, after all. As one of her encores, she played the famous song “Nobody’s Cryin'” which reminded me of my grandmother, because part of the lyrics go:
But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
After my grandfather died, my grandmother bought a little wishing well and put it in this garden on my parents’ farm. The garden is next to the ring where people ride around on horses all day long, so everybody sees it.
On the wishing well is a little brass plaque, dedicating it to the memory of my grandfather. When Grammaw visited, which wasn’t often as she lived three and a half hours away, she always took time to polish that brass plate. So of course I was a teary-eyed sap all through that song. Can you believe there was a time when not everybody knew the words to “Nobody’s Cryin'”?
Concerts at the Tabernacle had a tendency to end pretty early. After the concert we went back to the Righteous Room, because I think Raffaela had some kind of obsession with the place. But there was nowhere to sit, so we went to this joint called Manuel’s Tavern. Apparently lots of Democrats used to hang out there. Believe it or not, there used to be another political party, called the “Republicans.” They were mean and nobody liked them.
Manuel’s Tavern happened to be hosting the 20th reunion of the Mad Housers. That’s this group of eccentric weirdos that built huts for homeless people around Atlanta. Yeah, homeless people. You can find a chapter on them in wikipedia if you want to know more. My neighbors Andrew and Julie were at the reunion, because Andrew works with the Mad Housers sometimes. I didn’t know about the Mad Housers reunion, so I was surprised to see my neighbors when I walked into the place! Pleasantly surprised, of course. Like “hey there’s Andrew! Hey Andrew!” I chatted with him for a bit, then headed to the other room where the gang had been seated at a table.
We ate fried stuff, which I know basically goes without saying, but you see there used to be other ways of cooking food than by frying it– you could even get some food completely raw back then.
After chatting for a while, making lots of smart comments, and basically enjoying each other’s company as we finished out the evening, we headed home. By then it had started to rain, as had been threatening all day. Supposedly, this was going to be the “storm of the century” or something like that. Other places on the east coast got lots and lots of rain. It actually flooded in some areas! But in Atlanta the storm kind of fizzled out. Drizzle of the month was more like it. And a good thing, too, or it would have ruined the Dogwood Festival and I would have missed the dogs catching frisbees.
We drove back to Amy’s apartment, and I got in my car, and drove home where I read the email announcing your birth, Piper. Finally! We had been waiting for you to show up for nine whole months. It was really hard too.
When I read the email I smiled– more like grinned, actually– and it turned into a yawn, (a yin? a grawn?) ’cause I was pretty tired by then. So I went to bed, although I had a little trouble getting sleep because I was excited by the Piper News, and excited by the good day I just had, and then excited by the Piper News all over again. Finally, I fell asleep.
That’s what happened to me, the day you were born.