Friday, July 21, 2006

it's my birthday, too, yeah

I wrote this on my birthday, but didn't publish it until now, because I got hung up on "who" and "whom".

For almost four months.

Today is my birthday! I am 51 and yay me, because when I was 39 I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. Now it's been at Stage IV for three and a half years, but I am stll here.

My oldest daughter was born on my birthday, 26 years ago. That was neat: she was very overdue, and she was the best birthday present I ever got. Her best friend was also born on our birthday.

A very good friend of mine, whom I met in freshman year of high school (36 years ago!) was born on this day as well. I don't think she's my friend anymore, however, and I'm OK with that. I think the fact that we shared the same date of birth had a lot to do with the fact that we became friends at all.

After my marriage ended, I realized that I had been maintaining my relationships with my friends the way I managed my relationship with my husband: I never asked for anything and I never disagreed with anybody. (Hi, Daddy.) My friend has been married for 26 years to a Muslim man, who, I wish to say again for the record, is one of the loveliest gentlemen I have ever had the pleasure to meet. In June of last year, at the time of whatever happened or didn't happen with the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, my friend and I got into a discussion of politics. She kept asking me, after opining at length about how annoying she found born-again Christians to be, and saying how she always did her best to act as Satanic as possible around them, if I did not agree with her that as Americans, we have an obligation to bend over backwards in order to understand why the hijackers in particular and Muslims in general feel and do as they do. I kept saying, calmly and politely, maintaining low tones--remember the Conehead sketches on SNL? The dad (Beldar) would caution the mom (Prymaat) and the teenage daughter (Connie) to: maintain low tones! maintain low tones!--that while I myself would never disrespect anyone's Koran, Torah, crucifix, Star of David, or Ganesha, I did not believe that the alleged flushing of the Koran was worth the deaths of the 19 Pakistanis who died in anti-American riots as a result, and that I did not feel that the miscreant Marines at Guantanamo, if indeed they did wrong--which still seems unclear--represented me as an American. I said that, just as the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims disavow the actions of the 19 hijackers, so do I disavow and disagree with any mistreatment of anyone anywhere by U.S. troops. I pointed out that Catholic and American symbols are frequent targets of mistreatment by artists and protesters; while I, as a Catholic and an American, might find this personally offensive, I have never felt the need to get out in the street and riot in defense of Jesus or the good old U.S.A. (I think both Jesus and the U.S.A. can take care of themselves) and I neither understood nor felt the need to understand those who riot in defense of the Koran or against cartoons depicting the Prophet.

This was the first time I was ever disagreeable to this friend, and it was only in the sense that I dared to disagree with her rather extreme political opinion. She emailed me soon after this exchange to say that she thought we needed to "take a break from our friendship." I haven't heard from her since, and, again, I'm OK with it.

Another person I know who shares my birthday calls herself Dr. Zack. She married that protegee of Norman Mailer, Jack Abbott, the one who got out of jail and immediately murdered a waiter.

I don't think that marriage worked out too well, either.

I don't know when his birthday was.