February 17, 2007
Happy birthday to me
Originally published February 16, 2006
As of 0600 this morning, I am 54 years old. Yep, on this day in 1952, at six o'clock in the morning, I came kicking and screaming into this world. I've been kicking and screaming ever since, although that shit wears me out a lot quicker now than it once did. I don't kick as high or scream as loud anymore, either.
Today got off to a good start. Here, I've been selected as blog of the day to add to the glory of my victory in the crap-daddy contest yesterday. See? You can't say that MY LIFE has been wasted. I've got links to prove otherwise.
In waxing philosophical, as I usually do on my birthday, I've discovered that I can divide my life into clear segments--- the phases I struggled through to become the man I am today.
0-7 years: Hillbilly days, in the Kentucky coal mining camp, where the basic values I carry today were ingrained in me. When Recondo 32 and I drove through there in 2004, I didn't recognize the place anymore, but I remember living there very clearly. I have fond memories of those days, but getting out of there was the biggest favor my parents ever did for me.
7-10 years: Difficult transition time, when I learned what it's like to be different from everybody else. I was little, skinny and I talked with a funny accent. I got into a lot of fights.
10-14 years: The Huck Finn period, when I ran the woods like a savage with my equally savage friends. Climbing trees, shooting BB guns, skinny-dipping in the Gun Club Lake, camping out, killing snakes, collecting insects and making war with anything we could find to throw, shoot or launch at each. Bejus! It's a wonder that any of us survived. Today's risk-averse soccer-moms would hyperventilate and drop dead of the vapors if their children did what I did back then. It was fucking WONDERFUL! Every boy should have the chance to live like that.
14-18 years: Tumultuous times, when puberty hit me hard. Those were the Jockstrap Years--- football, basketball, baseball, softball, track and anything else you can name. If it was a game, I played it. That's also when I started regarding wimmen as mysterious, fascinating creatures who made me feel funny in my pants rather than as cootie-depositories to be avoided. They scared the shit out of me, but I wanted one anyway. Physically, I finally lost my cherry. Mentally, I remained confused most of the time.
18-24 years: The Bohemian Period, when I dabbled in higher education while learning to smoke dope, play guitar for money and actually catch pussy when I chased it. I flew the familial coop and started living on my own for the first time. I also discovered that I really liked alcohol. A LOT.
24-29 years: Early Retirement. I chucked a job as an advertising copywriter and became a full-time bar musician. I drove my father crazy by "spinning my wheels" (in HIS opinion) and going nowhere with all that education I had. I didn't care. I was as happy as a dead pig in sunshine. I was responsible for myself and an ugly-assed dog and neither one of us was high-maintenance. Life was good.
29-38 years: Nose to the Grindstone time, when I first learned what marrying the wrong woman can do to you. I put my guitar down and went to work in the chemical plant when that first darlin' decided to get pregnant and lose what little sense she had to begin with when I married her. GAWD! On the plus side, I got a pretty good daughter out of the deal and I learned a very valuable lesson: If you think that you can lift a self-destructive loser UP, you'll end up being dragged DOWN when you try. If I could pick one part of my life to go back and live over again differently, this would be it.
38-40 years: Starting over again. I was flat-ass broke, heavily in debt, homeless and damn near hopeless. I had my truck, my guitars, a few clothes, my job and not much else. I frequently had to make a choice between eating or buying cigarettes because I didn't have enough money to do both. (Cigarettes always won.) I was in a hole so deep that I didn't believe I would EVER see sunshine again. Those were bad times.
40-49 years: The Salad Days in the beginning, except for my father's death. I fell deeply in love for the first time, with a woman who was just as broke as I was. Together, we paid ourselves out of debt and began to prosper. I fathered a son. I bought a mini-farm. I had more than I ever DREAMED I would have and I remember thinking, "This is too good to be true." It was. Cancer and divorce laid a big reality check on my Cracker ass and it damn near killed me. I just THOUGHT I had been in a black hole before. Hell, that was just a rut in the road. I still haven't fully recovered from 2001 and I don't know that I ever will, at least not completely. Strange. I experienced both the happiest and the most miserable days of my life in the same period. I also started blogging.
49-53: Down, down, down days. Impotence. Incontinence. Got a bionic dick and wondered why I bothered. I lost my job because of my politically-incorrect blog and became a full-time drunk. I didn't give a shit about ANYTHING anymore. Spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I knew that I was dying, killing myself one drink, one bottle at a time, but I didn't care. When I wrote that I often made a choice at night between setting my alarm clock and reaching for a pistol, I wasn't making that shit up. After I "retired," I didn't have to set the alarm anymore, but I still thought about that pistol. I was a dead man walking anyway. Mama died and I checked myself into rehab just in the nick of time. That was a close one.
53-?: Who knows? I have some vague plans, but I'm not exactly on fire about anything except not taking a drink today. I'm still blogging, working on a book (my 2006 Writer's Market came in the mail yesterday) and living one day at a time. I know better than to say "the worst is over," but I feel pretty good right now. I think I'll hang around a few more years to see what happens next. I've had some pretty remarkable ups and downs in my life, but I've gotta admit one thing: it's not been boring. I've got plenty to write about.
So... happy birthday to me.
[Ed. Twenty hours late, I know. My bad. Sorry, Darlin'...]
All content © Rob Smith