This article is Ancient (archive 2011)

Happy Birthday, April’s Fool!

When I was born, my mother called my father from the hospital. She said she was going into labor, and he should get to the hospital as soon as he could. My father said “very funny, Dear,” hung up the phone, and went back to work. This seems to have set the tenor for all my birthdays to come.

Being born on April Fool’s Day is a hell of a burden to saddle on a child. My teachers wouldn’t let me bring snacks to the classroom. Other children, who throughout the year told me how lucky I was to be born on a holiday, refused to believe me when it finally came around. My birthday parties were under-attended, and I got very few gifts. The ones I got were hedged bets: ten dollar gift certificates, decoder rings, third-hand coloring books. Things that wouldn’t make anyone look foolish if it turned out it wasn’t, in fact, my birthday.

Now and then, the other people’s suspicion started to wear me down. I’d start to wonder if I wasn’t being had, if my parents had planned an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke they’d reveal to me on my 16th birthday. “Surprise,” they’d yell, “it’s not your birthday, you can’t drive for another five months!”

In a way, it would have been a relief. I haven’t had a birthday party since the fifth grade, when Tom Winters told everyone that it was a hoax and his mother knew for a fact that I was born in the summer. Joke was on me. No one showed up. I stopped telling people. I started saying I was an Aries and leaving it at that.

Since I’ve grown up, it’s gotten a bit easier. When you stop expecting anything from your birthday, it stops mattering whether people believe you or not, but I still wonder what might have been, how I might have turned out if I could have birthdays like all the other children, a day for me, where I was the center of attention and not the object of suspicion and derision. I wonder what it would be like, who I would be if only I had been born on April 2nd.



Short Fiction by Ian Darda