Birthday, Bloody Birthday

I have a scar on the bridge of my nose. It was acquired on my fifth birthday, or rather given to me. Yes, that’s a more accurate way of putting it.

From ’92-’97 I was living in Ann Arbor, MI, where my mother was doing something medical at the University of Michigan (I gave up on trying to keep track of the hoops she had to jump through in order to complete her education). I have only a few distinct memories of Ann Arbor, most of which involve hanging out with my dog, a German Shepherd named Pasha, who was the shit.

Rest in bliss, my canine brother.

I can remember shoveling exactly one shit ton of snow off the driveway with Mamacita in what was physically abrasive cold and thinking to myself that this is really not for me. My preschool teacher had abnormally long fingernails (they curled and were revolting). And finally, I very vividly remember my fifth birthday.

Twenty years ago, on August 22nd, 1996, I had some friends over to the pad for an evening of tasteful merriment. There were Socker Boppers, Nerf Guns and jugs of Hawaiian Punch. There was a kiddie pool, tub of Play-Doh, and exquisite yellow cake with chocolate icing. We were lacking in the way of a Slip-n-Slide, which I took issue with. I’m ashamed to admit that I was a very spoiled child.

But, hey, five is a big year.

There were a number of my peers in attendance, but towards the end of the party — just after bedtime — only the inner circle remained. Andrew was my quietly Caucasian homie who rocked a bowl cut and striped T-shirt without exception. Fatima was an Iraqi girl whose parents were immigrant doctors, and close friends with mine. Then, there was Erin, who was very tall and very pretty; she of the fair skin and strawberry blonde hair, the object of my sincere and earliest affections.

These are their actual names, for the record.

At a certain point, we had exhausted all the toys and activities, our parents were in the kitchen, doubtlessly discussing something heinously boring/Clinton related, and we had the house to ourselves. Obviously, the thing to do was jump on the bed, because fuck the monkeys and their head bumping. We know what we’re doing.

I remember the thrill of our inaugural jumping on my parents’ bed, noting its exceptional bounciness, which would soon facilitate my gruesome fate. We kept looking over at the door to make sure the adults wouldn’t bust us on our road to rebellion. I’d had just the right amount of Hawaiian Punch over the course of the evening, and so resided comfortably in that sweet spot of high fructose intoxication. The liquid courage enabled me to make my move.

A little background info: Us four were pretty inseparable, and kindergarten couples of sorts. But this was the ’90s, and race relations weren’t quite so advanced as they are today. I was super into Erin, but had been relegated to holding hands with Fatima because we had similar heritage and skin color.

It was a different time.

Erin and Andrew were something of an item, but he was really boring and didn’t belong with her. It still stings to remember sometimes. Nevertheless, the young romantic and civil rights advocate in me held out hope. The point being that we were jumping on opposite sides of the bed in our respectively assigned couples and I’d had enough.

So I start casually bouncing away from Fatima and towards Erin with slow, steady confidence. Andrew notices but doesn’t do anything to address it because he’s feeble and undeserving. I’m making eyes at my dreamy, willowy young maiden and she’s totally vibing with it. This is going to happen. I know it.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Middle Eastern people are just as jealous and possessive as Latin Americans are — if not more so. This didn’t bode well for my dating life growing up. But anyway, Fatima sees me getting a little too familiar with her competition and isn’t having any of it. I didn’t see it happen because I was too busy staring at Erin, but I certainly felt it.

Bitch pushed me.

All of a sudden I’m flying through the air. The bed felt pretty high at that age, so I got a major adrenaline rush. That’s probably why I remember it so well. I do a full somersault in the air, look down and, for the briefest of moments, see the glass table rapidly approaching my face.

It hurt a great deal. I instantly started to weep, tasting blood for the very first time. It was everywhere, including a substantial amount on my favorite Power Ranger shirt, which had been excitedly donned just for my special day. The stains never came out, and that never stopped bothering me.

The adults come bursting in and start scolding us. I remember Andrew standing uselessly in the background, Erin looking at me with concern, and Fatima doing the same but with absolutely no remorse. Fortunately, we had medics onsite, and my assailant’s father stitched me up right there on the floor.

These days, I’ve actually grown quite fond of my scar. I saw Fatima some years ago, too. We made amends and it’s all water under the kindergarten bridge. In fact, she taught me a valuable lesson: never underestimate the wrath of a scorned woman. I’ve committed it to solemn memory, ever since.

2 thoughts on “Birthday, Bloody Birthday

  1. Feliz cumple, Andre. Me encanta tu blog, y tu estilo literario. No me pierdo ni uno de tus posts. Que pases un dia barbaro -mandale muchos saludos a tus padres y a tu hermana. Siempre los recuerdo a los cuatro con muchisimo afecto -y nostalgia de los dias en Arlington/Cambridge.


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