My Birthday (and His)

45 years ago today I emerged cold, screaming and kicking into this world.

My friends have kept me warm since then, and the screaming has died down somewhat… but I am still kicking.

From the moment Beverly held me close to her and I felt loved to this morning reading how my old school friends on Facebook wish me well since an app told them it was my birthday (and because they’re all very sweet) I have felt the warmth.

From my first real friend to my dear friends who let me sleep on their sofas or on their floors, in their beds and futons or kept me company on the phone, on the stoops or in the bars when I needed someone with which to talk I have felt the warmth of the world.

Even when I was alone, sleeping on the streets of whatever city I happened to be in, I was never cold.

I was angry. Decades of screaming anger misdirected.

In the beginning I screamed at the doctor’s cold hands and at the mother’s cold heart and I cried. The first time of many.

Soon I learned to quiet the screaming anger with cakes and cookies and then with pills and powders and fiery liquids that delivered a false warmth. And when my body began to reject the abuse I was forced to live with the anger and found that there was no shortage of people who were willing (and have the authority) to beat the shit out of you whenever they feel like you’re being a little too angry.

When I realized that there was no real reason for my anger, that it didn’t help a damn thing and only made shit worse, even that made me angry. But the absurdity of this anger made me laugh. I laughed at myself for the first time. I had never til that day laughed at myself sober. I always took everything, everyone and especially myself way too seriously.

Now, I laugh at myself all the time.

I am absurd. I am hopelessly and comically absurd and it’s funny. It’s hysterical in fact.

But without the anger, the anger that fueled my every action, am I still a fighter?

Am I still even alive and kicking?

Am I still that newborn who wanted to beat the shit out of that doctor for having put his hands on me.

“Get your stinking hands off of me you damn dirty ape.” I think I said to him but no one understood me and that just pissed me more the fuck off.

I wanted to bust out of that hospital, and hop a cab to Brooklyn but I had no pockets… and no wallet… or money… or motor skills enough to hop for that matter. Okay, my earliest plans were a little ambitious but I was an angry child.

And now, without that anger, what am I?

Contestant: I’ll take People with Emotional Problems for 200 Alex.

Trebek: My anger defined me for so long.

buzz

Trebek: Melvin

Contestant: Who is Mel?

Trebek: Correct

Sure, I can visit with it. My anger is that extra mile on the treadmill. It’s an 0-2 pitch that’s right… down… the middle. It’s that boss battle that I will not let myself complete on easy. It’s Fox News forcing it’s way into everything I hold dear.

Like an Angel said to me (though he may have been talking to Buffy) “There’s a demon inside of me that hasn’t had a good fight in a while.”

So I bring him out for the trivial stuff. Games and shit but I don’t trust him with anything important. Can’t.

But you know, It’s really his birthday today.

My re-birthday, the day I stopped trying to kill myself, the day I learned to laugh at myself, the day I stopped being angry all the time, that’s another day.

So, happy birthday tough guy. Thanks for making me feel safe when I really wasn’t.

You’ll understand if I don’t let you out to celebrate because frankly you suck.

But I’ll see you on the basketball court.

-Mel

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