IN SUMMATION: my mother was a nun; my father was an adulterer; my grandfather was a Nazi; my grandmother was a goddamn champion. Oh, and the very first line of the letter says I’ve been celebrating the wrong birthday for my entire life.
Anyhoo, I hope everybody had a great Saturday!
(The main thing that has come out of this, so far, is me cackling enough to alarm my children. Everything else is fine.)
Much, much longer:
My daughter is extremely sensitive about her music.
My wife and I ask her to practice for her piano lessons, and she behaves as if it is a personal affront. Not because she is lazy– although that is in the mix– but because she is not Mozart, and if she practices we will hear her and find that out. Both of my kids are like this, as I very much was before them. If I wasn’t great at something right away, it was a Herculean task to get me to keep doing it. Ask the coach from my single season of soccer.
I tried to reassure my daughter about her piano playing today and made everything, as I reliably do when I speak, forty times worse. “Honey, this is what practice is for. Who cares if you make nothing but mistakes? It’s not like you’re playing for a thousand people. You’re only playing a private show for me, your attentively listening father.”
Soon, my wife came in and pointed out that the keyboard my wet-eyed daughter practices on is electronic and has a headphone jack. She could practice in total isolation, plinking and plonking away without anyone else hearing, which is the key to getting better. The jack, unfortunately, is bigger than the one most modern headphones fit into. It’s looking for one one of those huge “seventies hi-fi” plugs.
“I’d better go on Amazon and spend $80 on something like that immediately,” said my wife, again.
“No no no no no,” I replied too quickly. “I have a headphone adapter downstairs.”
That’s how, fumbling around my desk, I rediscovered The Envelope.
Ten or fifteen years ago, my mother had handed over The Envelope, which contained a couple of typed yellow pages from the seventies laying out all the information that Catholic Charities had about my biological parents when I was put up for adoption. I can’t remember why this happened; maybe she just didn’t want to deal with the burden of having it to herself anymore. It wasn’t because I’d expressed any interest in having it. Quite the contrary. Throughout my life, I’ve been aggressively against having this information.
My position was always that I knew everything I needed to already: I was an unwanted pregnancy born right after Roe v. Wade. My biological mother could’ve erased me from existence but didn’t. She was okay in my book. The End.
In addition, due to some statistical fluke, I grew up around half a dozen adopted people besides myself, and a couple of them went a different way. They got hooked on that “Annie” shit. Whenever anything went south at home, they would gaze out the window up at the moon and think, “my REAL parents aren’t like this. If I could find them, they would confirm that I am amazing and great, and getting straight Ds is actually cool, and we would sail off on the yacht they’ve gone on to have.” One of these people looked into their birth parents expecting this Cinderella story only to discover that they were the product of two poorly attended patients in mental hospital “coupling.”
It did not say! None of my business!
Enjoy walking around with a head full of that for the rest of your life, Annie! I’ll be over here, enjoying my life of glorious mystery.
So I was disinclined, generally, to open The Envelope. But today I just couldn’t find that goddamned adapter anywhere, and I couldn’t find anything else rifling through that drawer, and then I found myself saying, “what is this envelope now? Wait, is this The Envelope? Did I just drop The Envelope in here? Better check.”
Here are the things The Envelope has to say, confirming everything I have ever thought about adoption, The Envelope, and at least half a dozen other things:
-both of my birth parents were blonde white people. Catch your breath.
-I was a big baby, so when getting me out they used forceps so aggressively that my face was paralyzed for a while. This has always been a part of family lore, and even if it wasn’t the giant dent in the right side of my head is a dead giveaway. Nobody sues when you got left in a basket at Catholic Charities.
-either The Envelope is wrong or my birthday has been wrong for my entire life. SHRUG!!!
-”your birth mother… was born in Germany during World War II.” Iiiiiii seeeeeeee.
-”Her father, a German soldier, was killed on the Soviet front.”
IS THAT THE ANODYNE THING THAT HAPPENED?
HOW ‘BOUT THAT.
HMM HMM HMM.
ALL THIS TIME, I THOUGHT NO ONE IN MY FAMILY SERVED IN WORLD WAR TWO, BUT IT TURNS OUT I WAS WRONG.
-Grandma saw which way the wind was blowing and “married” a GI the second the war ended. Good on ya, Hilda. Once she was here, they got divorced, and she worked her ass off every minute after that. Hero of the story.
-”At 23, your mother entered a convent.” AHHHGO ONNNN.
-”[we never talked to your dad, because he was a catholic school teacher married with two kids when he got your nun mom pregnant and didn't want anyone to know he did that.]” OH! COOL COOL COOL COOL. CAN’T REALLY BLAME HIM. FAIR ENOUGH.
What are our takeaways?
Avowed religious people are unbelievable hypocrites? Life story, please allow me to introduce you to a year I call 2017. Please enjoy our news. Pastors are the only people who have not abandoned Cap’n Pussygrabz, and my adoptive father loves the way he “tells it like it is.” I am eager to learn how pious my churchgoing 49- and 51-year-old half siblings are, oblivious to my existence. Enjoy your worldview whilst ya can, kiddies! Papa was a rollin’ stone!
Nazis are in the last places you would expect? Oh hey, Grandpa Asshole, I look forward to reading your Yelp review about how the Stalingrad snow tastes. Enjoy Hell. Everything I do next is in your name, dipshit I’m calling Gunther.
People can survive insurmountable hell times? Here’s to you, grandma I’ve decided to call Hilda.
What else?… ah, hell, I dunno. I feel like this has been plenty. Have a nice night!