I am growing weary of this whole “birther” thing. I’m not sure some people would accept it if we had a home movie showing a baby emerging from a woman’s vagina and wearing a nametag saying “Hello My name is Barack Obama” with the Hawaiian surf rolling in the background and a dozen girls doing the hula off to one side and Don Ho waving an American flag.
It turns out that documents are important things. So in the interest of any future presidential plans I thought I’d publish my own birth certificate in this space for all to see. Despite being fairly non-political and happily retired I like to keep my options open. Who can say I won’t be tempted to run for president someday?
To my horror, I couldn’t find my birth certificate. I found the birth and death certificates of my parents and sister. The birth certificates of my kids and grandkids. Social security cards, marriage licenses and military discharge papers. I even found the notarized document Elizabeth signed 20 years ago vowing to run any errand I ever asked for the rest of her life without complaint in exchange for me going to the store to buy her Dr Pepper for a band Christmas party.
I am very good about protecting important documents. But the piece of paper certifying that I was born is AWOL.
I pinch myself. It hurts. I am alive, this much is certain. I remember the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missle crisis, the Kennedy assassination and the Beatles so I’m around the age of 60 or so. But I couldn’t actually prove this if you asked me.
I have a driver’s license, a library card and a gift card to Barnes and Noble with $2.63 left on it from Christmas. I have a passport. So somewhere, sometime, I did have a birth certificate. You can’t get a passport without one.
I have a marriage license saying that Beaven and I got married. But that only gives us the right to bicker a lot and proves that our children are legitimate.
I have a will, the deed to our house and all the car titles. When I go, everything will be in place for an orderly transit out of this life and onto the next. But can you die without a birth certificate proving you were ever born? Am I sentenced to live forever, wandering this mortal coil well past my prime, a frail, ghostly body unable to pass on to the next level of existence because I can’t even prove I ever existed to start with?
This was starting to look like a serious problem.
I looked again in a different file marked “important documents.” All I turned up this time was the copyright certification for my book and more certificates of births, marriages and deaths. It was starting to look like Spoon River Anthology around here. The only thing to do in a case like this was to go shopping. That always has a way of clearing one’s mind.
When I got home and checked the mail there were final (let’s hope) bills from the doctor and hospital for my cancer treatment. While it wasn’t exactly a birth certificate I took it as more support for the reality that I was indeed born and am still alive.
FYI-if you are going to get one of the high dollar diseases be sure you start and finish treatment in the same calendar year. I tried to do this but because of the holidays, snow days and machine malfunctions I ended up with about three week’s worth of radiation in January, which meant the clock re-started on my benefit deductible. The lady at the doctor's office tried to cheer me up by saying I would soon reach “the annual maximum” and that would be the most I would pay in 2011. This was a very small consolation. tiny. miniscule.
I ate some of the humus left over from Easter on a piece of pita bread. Then the rest of the ice cream. Then the left over popcorn from the movie last night. This is how some people excuse gluttony: we call it “stress eating.” I came up with a motto of sorts: “I digest; therefore I am.” Having once again proven to myself that I do exist I still don't have a piece of paper saying it. I give up. I’ll just have to apply for a copy of my birth certificate. Then I can die in peace or maybe make hotel reservations in New Hampshire for the primary. It will open up so many options for me.
William and Kate might pay attention to all this hoop-la over certificates. It won’t matter a hill of beans that more people in the history of the entire universe will watch their wedding either by waking up at an ungodly hour of the night or recording it. Nor will it matter that every syllable of the vows they make will be recorded. Or that the Archbishop of Freaking Canterbury and/or the Dean of Westminster Abbey will be the officiating authorities. Not even a post-nuptial kiss on the balcony of the royal palace will make it official. Or having the Queen of England toast you. Boy, oh, boy, they’d better get that piece of paper.
PS: As I write this, the TV has preempted Oprah for the second day in a row for weather news. There’s some poor schmuck of a beginning weatherman driving around in the rain trying to locate a tornado he had spotted and then lost track of. The senior weatherman in the studio was politely telling him to go find that tornado and don’t come home until you do. This is going to be a tough spring.