I Am Born
(and I begin as life intends me to go on)
Right from the start, I’ve been a disappointment to women.
Here’s me at my own birth:
On January 1, 1977, after thirty-two hours, fourteen minutes and fifty-three seconds of labor, most of it during a heat wave so bad there are citywide power outages – a heat wave that would have been perfectly normal in Florida, but in New England, not so much – my mother, Francesca Smith, gives birth to me at home at exactly 2:19 p.m.
She insisted on the home birth because she said it would be more natural.
Alfresca Tivoli, Francesca’s sister, is present as Francesca’s birthing coach because my father, John Smith, says it’s women’s work. Plus, he’s scared shitless.
As I emerge from between my mother’s legs – all thirteen pounds, eight ounces of me – Alfresca catches me. Then I do the usual baby stuff: I get my cord cut, I’m slapped, I cry, I get weighed and measured, someone wipes the cheesy stuff off my hairy head, and finally I get handed off to my mother.
“Oh,” Francesca says, gently parting the swaddling to examine my body further, “it’s a boy. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I was so sure, all along, I was going to have a girl.”
Then, she dies.
“If you’d been a girl,” Alfresca says, taking me from my dead mother’s arms as the midwife tries in vain to resuscitate my disappointed mother, “this never would have happened.”
I know all this, not because I was born with some kind of precocious baby-genius capability to instantly understand language, but rather, because Aunt Alfresca has spent the last thirty-three years reminding me, at fairly regular intervals but with surprisingly little malice, that I killed her sister.
As I said, right from the start, I’ve been a disappointment to women.
Some people would tell you it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
All of those people would be men.
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