27 January 2010

Your Birthday

It's your birthday.


1. Secure a safety pin to the front of your shirt.

2. Draw attention to yourself.

It doesn't matter who likes you, or how popular you are, or how nice the shirt is that pin is stuck to, because it's your birthday, and that means by mid-afternoon, you will have money pinned to your shirt, and by mid-evening, you'll have yourself a candy bar, or a drink, or whatever you want. Everybody who has a dollar adds it to the pin, because everyone understands birthdays. Everyone knows that it's a big deal that you're still here, and despite how bad every day has been leading up to this point, this day is going to be better. One day out of the year, it's going to be better. This day is yours.

(Last week, Gary had seven dollars on his shirt. "I've gotten so much, people are using my shirt to make change. Sure, I got change for a five. It's my birthday." I watched Gary. He didn't go to the gas station or the liquor store, but he ran his fingers over those dollar bills, counting them and re-counting them, as if they were proof that he mattered, that someone paid attention. Gifts. I think Gary decided that you couldn't put a price on a reminder like that. They'll stay in his empty cigarette box, at least for a while.)

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