On any given day, you could always find Mom perched in her comfy padded chair at the small eat-in kitchen table. Behind her the kitchen window was always wide open; bristling in the sounds and the smells that the day brought forth. It was here that she addressed all matters of importance; the bills, the shopping list, her daily hand written letters to multiple family members and of course, her NY Times crossword puzzle. Like a queen in her castle, you tempted fate when addressing her with anything trivial. A queen’s time is always precious.
This was no ordinary day though. It was the day before my eighteenth birthday and I was feeling a bit retrospective. I wondered whether over the course of my childhood, I was a good kid to my parents. Not just a good child but whether they felt blessed having me as their child. Adding to that, I wondered just how stellar I actually was. With tomorrow being my official entrance into manhood, I required her utmost attention to address these queries. I sought her validation and an ex-post facto overview of what it was that made me such a magnanimous child over the course of the last, nearly eighteen years.
How far I would delve would be determined by her patience. As I proceeded in a slow motion walk through the kitchen, I decided to pose an easy question to break the ice. “So Mom, have I been a good kid?”, I asked sheepishly. Without so much as giving me any formal recognition of my presence, she muttered back in a very monotone manner, “Uh huh.”
“Uh huh? Just – uh huh?”, I thought to myself. Had she forgotten that I was her favorite child? Was she confused by my question?
Then it hit me like a lightning bolt! She mistakenly thought the scope of my question meant… just for today. I stood still, reflected on my gaff and admitted that today was a tad bit of an “uh huh” rated day. My bed was still a mess. My laundry hadn’t been picked up. Rolling my eyes, I recognized the flaw in my presentation and chuckled as I thought, “My bad.” No, what I wanted was an overall grading which would substantiate what I already knew. That I was, overall, a stellar child worthy of tremendous praise and reverence. I took a deep breath and proceeded undeterred with a renewed confidence.
I placed both of my hands on the table and leaned in. “Mom! I meant like, you know… since I was born. I’ve been a pretty GOOD kid over ALL. Right?” My Mom placed her pen down gently and stopped what she was doing. She peered at me with a quizzical gaze. Surely she noticed my over-expressed vowels and strong syllabicated wording. I was confident this gave her the clarity to understand both the intent and the gravity of my inquisitiveness.
“What do you want, Tommy?” she said plainly with an annoyed cadence. “I’m busy.” My eyes widened as I was not prepared for her seemingly miffed response. I had hoped she would be forthcoming. A stellar recommendation would have been a wondrous character reference for my fast approaching manhood but alas, a jolt of disappointment began to overtake my fleeting confidence.
“Okay, Mom. Sorry. I just wanted to know more stuff about myself.”, I said with a doe-eyed expression. I was grasping at straws at this point but sensed an opportunity for sympathy. My mother stared at me intently. Before I could think of a more profound approach, I uttered, “Like… what about when I was born. Was I an easy birth?”
It wasn’t the best question but maybe I could get something of value. To my dismay, my mother placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her folded hands. She smiled and stared up at the ceiling as if she was pulling deep memories and seeing them in a wondrous vision. Then with a little sigh, she stopped and looked back at me with a slight smile.
“Oh, you were fairly normal, Tommy”, she said. “You were like any other birth.” Just as quickly as she had paused, my mother picked up her pen and went back to writing her letter. I sensed my window of opportunity closing rapidly.
I began to speak once again. “Mom, can I…”, but she quickly raised her hand and stopped me in the mid-stream of my thought.
“Tommy, I’m busy. I promise to tell you later. In the meantime, please make your bed and pick up your clothes.”
I walked away somewhat dejected. For the next few hours, I thought what it must have been like, being a newborn child coming into this world. I had seen pictures in school of course and went through all the required health classes. I knew how it worked but what was it like for me? What was it like for my mother?
That evening, everybody was making a big deal out of me turning eighteen the next day. Cousins and extended family were going to be at the party, along with a bunch of my friends from school. My siblings and I all chipped in putting the outside tables together. I assisted my Dad in setting up some speakers from the hi-fi system. Dad seemed pretty proud of me. Tomorrow, his son was going to be a bona fide man. I could vote. I could drink. Hell, if I wanted to I could even get a tattoo. Okay, Dad would kill me if I got one of those so maybe not a tattoo, but I could think about it and that was a victory in itself. As I spliced the last wire to the speaker in the tree, my mind wandered back to my morning discussion with Mom.
“Dad? What was it like when Mom gave birth to me? Were you there?”, I said while untangling the chaos of speaker wires in front of me.
“As a matter of fact, I was. It was pretty normal. Like all the rest.”, he said without giving any additional thought. Again, I felt cheated not knowing more about this critical moment of my birth. My mind wandered and I had the barren thought that maybe it was so normal, that it was actually – forgettable. I tried to ask another question but, Dad reminded me of the time and said we should get to bed. The company would be here pretty early. He was right. It was well past midnight and my horde of cousins was arriving at the crack of dawn. I was excited about their arrival.
I kissed my Dad goodnight, as I always did, and ran inside and kissed Mom lovingly good-night on the cheek. I was tired and before I knew it, I was fast asleep in my bed.
I’m not exactly sure what is was that woke me up in such a state of panic. It could have been the blood-curdling screams from my mother. Or, maybe it was the helpless feeling of drowning, as a deluge of warm rushing water rained down on my face. With a command of “turn the shoulders”, I felt two massive hands that cupped both sides of my head and yanked, pulled and twisted. Turning my head, I heard someone yell out “Push!” and I felt myself grabbed with several hands and yanked and pulled onto the floor. I was being attacked from all sides and I was not able to make out my aggressors in the pitch black darkness.
Before I knew it, I was being flipped over onto my stomach, where I heard and felt a large (SLAP!) from a raw and stingy hand meeting an unwilling area of my ass meat. The spank caused me to instantly yelp in pain. If that wasn’t enough, my sleep pants were being ripped off of me at the same time. I felt some type of cloth being wrapped around my bare glutenous maximus with duct tape and once this task was complete, these cruel people were cocooning me in a huge comforter. To hinder any escape, the bastards also wrestled and tied my hands and feet up in duck tape. There were far too many of them and I was completely at their mercy.
By the time my eyes adjusted to the pure darkness, I was now swaddled in the comforter, with only my face peeking out a small opening. It was smothering me. I cursed and swore and screamed at the top of my lungs.
Then the assault stopped. I remained screaming and yelling for a few more seconds until the bright lights in my room came on. I squinted in agony as my eyes readjusted to the brightness. I was placed on my side in such a way, that I couldn’t see my attackers directly.
“So Madge, was it pretty much how you remembered it?”, I heard my father say.
“Yup! Eighteen years ago today at 4:35 AM, our Tommy was born. Thank you, Art. It’s very much how I remember it.” said my mother. I laid motionless and was cautious of what might happen next. Just then, I caught glimpse of my mothers feet scurrying past my limited view and I saw her getting down on her knees in front of me. Suddenly her face came into focus in my small cocooned portal view.
Smiling from ear to ear, she said. “And that, my dear Tommy, is how you were born! Any more questions?”
With my obvious “deer in the headlight” expression of shock, all I could muster was, “No Mom. Thanks!”
I heard Dad laughing hysterically in the background. Within my cocoon of swaddle, I noted the voices of my siblings and several of my cousins slapping high five’s among themselves. My mother, the master planner, had obviously alerted them and coordinated their earlier arrival in preparation for this planned attack. Mother tapped my shoulder and chuckled, “That’s quite alright, Tommy. Glad I could answer your questions. Happy Birthday!”
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