It is my birthday tomorrow, and through the grace of God and
one day at a time, I'm going to be 31 years old. OK, wait, 42 years old. The mother of Sam's best friend
came up to me the other day and told me she had just turned 27 and how hard it was, and it was like Tori
Spelling coming up to me in a tube top telling me about how hard it is to be rich and beautiful.
I have a
terrible cold or maybe Dengue fever, and it's making me feel older than I should; making me feel more like
Rose Kennedy than a person my age should feel. And the cellulite is not clearing up with age -- that's the
other bad news. It's gone beyond cellulite now; there's not even a name for what cellulite becomes when it
gets older. My body is padded with a nameless substance and I have Dengue fever and am about to be 42.
That's my basic report.
And yet, I am getting better. I am getting less like Nathan Lane in "The
Birdcage." Ten years ago, when I turned 32 and I was still drinking, I ran on my telephone answering
machine a long list of the people who had neglected to acknowledge my birthday. The next day I ran an
updated and alphabetized list, slightly shorter, of the people who had still neglected me. The next day
I ran another with just four names, and the next day I had just one name, Evan Connell, and he has never
forgiven me for that.
So the fact that I am not even thinking about doing that this year means that
sobriety has been good for me. For a long time, I forgot what I did on my 32nd birthday, running that list,
and now I remember it. I remember almost everything. I'm almost positive that I did not sleep with the
Unabomber, that I did not go up to his gracious 12 by 12 mountain cabin and jump into his hot tub. I cling to
the belief that I did not give the Unabomber a blowjob. I think the chances are slim...maybe one in ten.
The Unabomber still has a random issue and I don't think he's getting any better, but I am getting better.
I hate fewer people -- I hardly count Republicans any more -- and I don't hate myself at all. Tomorrow, I'm
going to spend my birthday overeating and thinking of that great line from Sherwood Anderson, "The world
is a pretty muddy place, Babs. It don't leave a man's house very nice."
In the past 10 years, I have
found this to be true. And yet tomorrow I will be walking around a sweet, clean house inhabited by a sweet,
clean -- well, sweet -- six-and-a- half-year-old boy, secure in the knowledge that God loves me just the
way I am, and that the only people who haven't wished me a happy birthday yet are Roone Arledge, Lauren
Bacall, Evan Connell...