Confessions of a One-year-old: Birth, a RevisionThomas Beller
Of course he makes it into a story. How he took me in his arms. How he looked at my face and thought and here is the line I have heard him repeat many times – “He’s going to write acerbic book reviews.”
To put it another way, of course he makes it into a story about him.
But I was the one being born. I was having the big experience. I’d like to insert myself into the narrative, if you don’t mind. To clarify.
That look he saw, the furrowed brow, the expression of displeasure or even disapproval—to understand this expression you have to consider a very important detail that he leaves out. Namely, what it was I was looking at. More specifically, who I was looking at.
First, of course, came the blinding light. The freezing cold. The people in weird blue outfits with the hats like swimming caps and the squares over their face — also rubber gloves, and weird hands, hands themselves being very weird things if you have never touched them before. All this, I now know from discussion with my peers, is more or less the universal experience. At least in my neck of the woods.
I was a C-section. I got handed here and there, weighed, poked at and so forth. And then put into the hands of… guess who? I am handed to the Let’s-Make-Everything-An-Amusing-Story guy. And you have to understand where I was coming from at this moment. Where I was coming from, literally.
I was coming from the inside of a lovely woman whose voice I had come to feel very attached to. Somewhere in the background was the Let’s-Make-Everything-An-Amusing-Story guy, I knew he was out there, but in the foreground was this lovely, cooing, sweet voice. True, I couldn’t see her face. But I was her face, in some weird way.
I could tell what she was like. I could feel the softness of her, literally, and though I vaguely understood that the outside would be different from the inside in terms of how it actually looked, I expected there to be some corollary in the way it felt.
But no, it was that guy, looking at me looking at him. Acerbic book reviews? I was thinking: Where is My Mommy? Where is that soft nice lady? Whose face is my face? Whose breath is my breath? Whose warmth is my warmth? Who has boobies! Give me to her now, fool!
But it was not to be. I got shoved next to her face for ten seconds. Her face was lovely but she was freezing and trembling. Also, she was wearing what I now understand was a kind of gauze shower cap over her head. But at the time I thought she simply had a really odd looking head.
An then off to this other room, shipped there in a box, basically, clear plastic but still, and then me and the big guy. I’m in his arms. They are big arms. He seems very big. I try and find some solace in this as I scream my head off, but then he starts to sing. As if that would help. You don’t hear him talk about this part of things very often. I’m screaming, he’s singing. And being congenitally unprepared it only now dawns on him that he doesn’t really know any songs. So he makes one up, “It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s all-ri-iiite,” which I admit calmed me a bit as I waited to see if he would come up with any other lines.
And then he starts in on “Silent Night.” That’s right, the guy who upon my birth starts joking about himself as a big Jew and so forth kicks out the “Silent Night” jam because, what? That’s the only song he knows.? I’m the second coming? Which makes him, let’s see … God?
So, Mr. Amusing Story, you ok with this being out in public? Just checking. Although, oops! Too late because you’re reading this. Let’s just assume that if you can dish it out you can take it. And if you can’t, well, it’s never too late to toughen up.
The “Silent Night” medley: He mostly hums because he doesn’t know the words other than, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” To his credit he does this for a long time. Rocking me in his big arms in that room. Just the two of us. He says that, too. “Just the two of us in here, baby, just you and me,” etc., and this really freaks me out and I start to go crazy again so he goes back to Silent Night and doesn’t stop until they wheel in the lady with the funny hat. Now he stops singing and she starts, in a manner of speaking. Which is to say she starts making all those great sounds. I’m so happy to see the lady with the funny hat! She takes me in her arms at last.
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