my mythic autobiography

The first thing you should know about me is that I was born a possum.   A possum? you say.  Yes, a possum.  At this point you’re probably thinking that perhaps I buy into that past-life business, the kind where people always link themselves back to someone famous like Alexander the Great or Cleopatra, or where, if they believe in the animal kind of reincarnation, they were a lion or a wild mustang.  Well that’s all hogswallop, as far as I am concerned.   True things are far more interesting, and the truth is I was born a possum.  Naturally, the doctors were rather aghast.  I mean, even I know it isn’t every day that a full-fledged human woman from the suburbs gives birth to a hairless, squirming 6 lb. 4 oz. pink possum.  But there it was.  The doctors were so disturbed by the sight that they thought for sure that the whole thing was a hoax and decided not to call attention to situation, because attention was surely what the hoaxster was after.  No newspapers were called, no tabloids showed up to photograph the monstrosity that was me.  They simply heavily sedated my mother, who was understandably already out of it from the labor, gathered around the bassinet on wheels they’d put me in for lack of a better option, and debated about what to do with me. 


This has been a running theme in my life:  What to do about me. 


So the doctors and the occasional nurse peered over and surrounded my bassinet, murmuring and wondering.  I am under the impression that they did a lot of poking at me to see how real I was.  I’m always rather surprised by the fact that they didn’t come to the decision of snapping one of those little plastic anklets around my leg, wrapping me in a receiving blanket, and plopping a tiny cap on my head any sooner than they did, because quite honestly, I couldn’t have been that much funnier-looking than any other pink-and-red-blotched, wrinkled, pointy-headed newborn in that nursery.  And they probably wouldn’t have come to that decision at all except that my father, who’d been caught up in traffic during my delivery, walked in about 22 minutes after I was born, peered over into the bassinet, and asked, “Where’s its hat?”  As far as he was concerned, I looked just fine.