Saturday is my birthday. 28. F—. Another year — poof! Velcro Nikes and Bingo Nights here I come! And you damn kids better offer me your seat on the trolley!
I hope this birthday is better than last year’s. Twenty-seven saw me paying for my own two drinks and in bed by 11. And 26 saw me getting kicked out of Shout House for what I can only assume was behavior that would make Dionysus blanch. Here’s hoping 28 will be a happy medium.
It’s up to me how it’s going to play out, not like when I was a kid and Mom and Dad planned my birthday for me. “Oh gosh, is it Jan. 28? Why, that’s my birthday! Whatever do you have planned for me, loving parents? A party in my honor with cake and presents — oh how wonderful! Oh, and there’s a DuckTales theme? My, it must be my birthday!”
(If you’re reading this and want to throw me a “DuckTales”-themed party, I will not object.)
I don’t even get presents anymore. What could my parents get me? “Here son, here’s that good credit rating you’ve always wanted.” I don’t need anything. My clothes haven’t changed since Clinton was in office (which I know speaks to my fashion sense). I have all the electronics I want (except for that new Tamagotchi). There’s nothing for them to get me.
So they’ll call on Saturday, sing obnoxiously into the phone, tell me they miss me, then tell me what I’m doing wrong with my life and how it could all be magically solved by moving back to New York. Gee, thanks for the best wishes, guys.
But they did get me some good presents growing up. I remember a red BMX bike. I remember a Notre Dame starter jacket, the same one all the cool kids had. (To you Californians, a jacket is something people wear when the temperature drops below 50.) I remember Pepper, my Irish Pointer mix. They gave me many gifts, most of the time the ones I asked for and sometimes the ones I didn’t.
But the best gift they ever gave me was an education. I learned much from them. I learned how to manipulate language. I learned how to make a Perfect Manhattan. I learned how to treat people. I learned where the dessert fork goes. I learned how to do the right thing. And I learned the value in being honest and real.
It wasn’t long before my 15th birthday that I received one of the best gifts they ever gave me, although I didn’t come to appreciate it until later. The gift wasn’t intentional. Like all their other lasting gifts, they were making sure I was a good person, and they showed me how just by being themselves. The lesson of this story was born out of less than ideal circumstances, but I’m glad I learned it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way …
I was a freshman in high school when I caught my parents having sex. I was at the bus stop at 6:55, on time, but the bus never showed. Thinking it had come early and I’d missed it, I walked home to ask my parents for a ride. Their bedroom door was closed — odd. Doors, other than the bathroom, are never closed at Chez Doran. Ignoring the barrier, I opened the door to find my mother humping and pumping my father. Upon realizing my intrusion, the sound my mother let out can only be described as a cornered pterodactyl.
I knew what sex was and what it looked like, but I’d never seen it live, especially not a free show of my parents. My gaze lingered far, far too long, although I’m sure it was only a couple of seconds. They were both naked, yet I was the one who felt exposed.
I suppose I should be thankful they weren’t doing anything kinky. There were no toys or aids or weird positions or other people. It was good old-fashioned American husband-and-wife her-on-top sex. I shouldn’t be surprised, though. A conservative, Catholic couple in their 50s probably isn’t into anal beads.
Eventually, I closed the door and ran outside. As I was taking my bike out of the garage to ride the eight miles to school, I saw the bus coming down the block. It had been late. Oh fate, what deviant tricks you play …
When I came home from school that day, my mother wouldn’t speak to me. I didn’t understand why she was mad at me, although now I see how embarrassed she was. When my father came home, we met in the hallway. It’s narrow. We stopped. I looked up at him, hoping he would give me a father-son talk about how mommies and daddies love each other and sometimes that love is expressed physically and a healthy sex life is an integral part of a lasting marriage and how much he loves my mother and me and wants me to understand this is part of love and life.
He didn’t. Instead, this is what I got.
“What, you think you fell from the f—ing stork?” He brushed me aside and walked into his bedroom.
Of course at the time I was stunned and angry. After some time I came to appreciate the comedy; now, I still appreciate the comedy, but I also see the gift. He didn’t make a big deal out of it. He didn’t trivialize it, but he didn’t inflame the situation by having a lengthy, potentially awkward discussion about it. He put it in perspective. That blunt line said it all.
-Matt Doran is a creative writing graduate student with horny parents whose passion burns as hot as the day they were married. Go get ‘em, Tom and Bambi. Email him at email@example.com to wish him a happy birthday.