It was a dark and stormy night. It was just a little past 10pm and I was looking forward to curling up to a long winter's night sleep. As it turns out, there would be no sleep for me that night, a night that would completely change the world as I knew it.
The events of that evening started with a small headache that grew worse and worse. The pain grew in intensity until it felt like a vise was crushing my skull, pushing in on the sides of my face. The top of my head felt cold, colder than anything I had ever felt before. Then, in an instant, the pain stopped and a blinding white light... well...blinded me, momentarily. My entire body went cold from head to toe. I tried to scream but I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt something clamp down around my ankles and then WHACK, a sudden and sharp pain in my buttocks made me gasp for air and let out a scream. At least that’s the way I imagine it felt.
The day was Saturday, January 23rd, 1954. The place was Faulkner Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. While my Mom was pushing me out, my Dad was in the waiting room having a smoke. A smoke you say? ? Yes, that’s right and no, everyone in the hospital that day didn’t die from second hand smoke inhalation. Apparently, the human lung was a lot tougher back in the day. The waiting room you say? ? That’s right too. In the 50’s men were not required or guilted into sitting in the labor room “coaching” their wives in ridiculous breathing exercises that did nothing to help the pain. Lamaze my azz. After three breaths, any woman with half a brain will be screaming for a spinal block. And to those who wish to brave the excruciating pain for hours on end so that they can say they had a “natural” child birth, I say you’re a moron and shouldn’t be allowed to have children. But I digress.
I had just left the warm, secure confines of the womb and been thrust into the real world. Going from having my food conveniently placed in my belly to having to work for my meals. All the crying and sucking made my cheeks sore. At first I thought I was doing something wrong because after every meal my mother would hit me on the back over and over and over again. She would continue hitting me until she knocked the wind out of me each time.
It was a strange new world and was going to take some getting used to the peculiarities. I was used to hearing muffled but intelligent conversation and classic stories by famed authors as my mother read to me in the womb. Now I could hear quite clearly, but no one would say anything that made any sense. Just things like “goo goo, ga ga” and “cootchi cootchi cootchi”. Although, the change in conversation wasn’t nearly as terrifying as the change in music. For nine months I had listened to classical music and some lively swing tunes sung by angelic voices. Now each night just before falling asleep I would hear a single haunting voice singing a sick song about putting me in a tree and waiting for the wind to blow me out so I would fall unmercifully to the ground in my cradle. Holy Smoke I’ve been afraid of heights my entire life and could never figure out why. It just hit me as I wrote that last sentence!
I wasn't like most other babies. Take the crib for instance. In yesteryear the crib was designed so that the bars were far enough apart that you could push your head through them but couldn't pull it back without ripping your ears off. They only cared that your shoulders and hips couldn't fit through, thus preventing escape.
Most kids learned after the first or second time. Not me, I was ..................... um ................persistent! Some would say it was because I was a dumb ass, but I hate labels, don't you?
And let's talk about the mobile hanging over the crib. Most babies (who are dumb asses) are perfectly content looking up, mesmerized at the site of the moving objects. Me? I wanted to reach for the stars so to speak. The problem was that while I could use the bars on the side of the crib to help me stand and keep my balance, the mobile was strategically placed so that as I stretched out to grab the stars, my other hand would slip off the side bar and I would fall flat on my face. That caused me to see more stars because the crib pads back then were only about one eighth of an inch thick. The fall onto the thin pad covering the thick wood would have driven my nose into my skull if my nose cartilage hadn't still been in a softened state. I did this so often, many people started to think I was of Chinese descent.
To be continued...............................