Happy birthday to me … for real, though!

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For me, it began 39 years ago today, at 9:12 a.m., in a place they call the Best Bank. That’s all I can confirm.

The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, is up to the whims of an oral history told to me by my mother.

Memories of my birth on the part of my parents follow that old script — one written before the days of constant documentation via technology, epidurals and male involvement in the process of childbirth besides the male doctor.

Mom has told me they simply knocked her out, then I was there. After she woke up, of course. She remembers something of a post-IV haze as aunts and uncles told her she’d given birth to a boy. Their words came off as screaming, not so much talking. Hey, there was no pain involved. Couldn’t have made it any easier on dear old mom. Dad was left to his devices with his in-laws in the lobby, as the sight of men in the delivery room was neither common, nor a sight.

Living, breathing products of the day like me are fairly common. A few well-known actors were born on the Day of Tricks, such as Ali MacGraw (the woman who brought audiences to tears in 1970’s “Love Story”) and Lon Chaney Sr., one of the first makeup kings of the early silver screen. Another April 1 birthday was Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who developed that hierarchy of needs that resembles the government’s nutrition chart in oh-so-many ways.

In the Middle Ages, some European towns celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25, or same as the Feast of the Annunciation, which marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. It’s been suggested April Fools’ Day came about because those who celebrated on Jan. 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.

The more famous jokes of modern times have ranged from the harmless to the potentially damaging. In 1957, the BBC tricked viewers into believing the Swiss harvested spaghetti from trees with help of sneaky camera tricks and draping pasta on tree branches. In the late ‘70’s, the British were at it again, as an astronomer said on BBC radio that two planets were to align at a certain time that day and people would become magically lighter at that precise moment. A footnote on the power of suggestion: a woman called the radio station to report she and her 11 friends were lifted from their chairs and floated around the room. Hmm…I’ll have what she’s having, please.

In 1985, author George Plimpton told the sports world in the pages of SI that he’d found a prospect for the New York Mets who could throw a 168-mph fastball. Of course, the only fastballs the Mets of that time were doing probably weren’t legal. In 1998, a pair of Boston radio shock-jocks got themselves fired for reporting that then-mayor Thomas Menino had died in a car accident. It was a joke, but they’re bosses weren’t kidding, either.

My day today should be free of jokes, since I’ve seen them all — some printable and some not. If you made it to the end of this column and still believe it’s my birthday, you’re one big fan. Because it’s my birthday … really it is. Hey, where ya going? Hey!!!

Danny Barrett Jr. is the assistant managing editor and be reached by email at danny.barrett@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.