The boy with two birthdays was born on both December 6 and December 7. As with so many questions that perplex not him but those who feel they must render verdicts, the date depends on who defines birth, which would seem to be a settled subject but which wiggles like our hero’s ears when he gets a new idea. His mother was unconscious throughout the adventure, while instruments monitoring the unborn fetus-boy during Mom’s long coma first chirped to signal a startlingly elevated heart rate from within the womb, then went silent as his noble heart slowed, then chirped again and repeated for hours in what came to be known throughout the hospital as baby labor. The boy was pushing. How else to explain it? He had turned himself the night before and now, not patient for Mother to dilate, he was screwing his own head through the canal. No one else had a role to play, so they worried or placed bets. Toward midnight, the coronation hour, he crowned. He poked his head out into the wide white world. He coughed once to clear his lungs, wiggled his ears and screamed. Almost immediately, he was back inside and nothing, and no one, could coax him into the world. He turned himself and clung, one imagines, to the ribs. He kicked at the forceps time and again and either his first scream echoed through the ward or he was screaming still from where he would not leave. He was polite, reticent, when they cut him out early on the seventh, but through the years he has never stopped thinking of this immaterial world as a place from which to be delivered. If he teaches us anything, which would seem to be a settled subject, we will follow his lead.

Copyright © May 28, 2008 David Hodges

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