My earliest human memory was of my fifth birthday, but I must have been doing some thinking before that, because I remember being very excited that I was turning the big 0-5. It seemed like such a perfect, solid number. It could be cleanly divided into 10, and although it was still a single digit, it was somehow less vulnerable, more established, than those numbers they assigned me when I was more freshly sprung from my mother’s womb.
The birthday still reigns as favorite. We had a train cake and lemonade. Unfortunately, my father had forgotten to grab a lemon when he went to the store to buy cigarettes, but he let me put an extra cup of sugar in my glass to atone. Yum!
My best friend stopped by, and even though I was a little nervous about starting school the next day, I was able to share a few laughs with him. Attempting to qualm my fears, he said, “Kindergarten is going to be awesome! Don’t you know how much ‘vag’ we’re going to see this year?”
As for presents, I was rewarded for a yearlong record of mostly accurate toilet use, with the usual fare: Sesame Street Playhouse, Tonka Truck, Les Mis action figures etc.
Later, before I slipped into the crawlspace, where I slept until I was 14, (before being relocated due to a few silly misconstructions by Family Services), my mother slipped me my sleeping medicine. I looked down and noticed that it wasn’t pink like it usually was. It was blue. The kind that dad took each night before mom put on her studded brazier and body glitter and headed off to work. I smiled with the knowledge that I was no longer a boy. True, lemonade and sesame street were fun, but adult strength Benedryl? The greatest gift of all.