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In the interest of complete transparency, I must confess up front that I’m a Valentine’s Baby. This is a reality that through the years has disappointed, and at times, even angered me. More than I care to admit.
I mean the odds are roughly one in 365 that any specific day of the year will end up being a particular person’s birthday, so with the exception of those poor saps that celebrate theirs every four years on February 29th, being born on February 14th is no more unusual than being born on March 10, or June 2, or September 19, or… you get the idea. Still, for some reason, I was the only person I had ever known that celebrated his or her birthday on Valentine’s Day! It seemed odd, but it was true.
As anyone else who has had the misfortune of celebrating a birthday on a holiday knows, it sucks. If it’s a day of gift giving, like Christmas, a Christmas baby is invariably denied a gift that he or she would otherwise have received — the distinction between birthday presents and Christmas presents tending to hopelessly blur. Even worse, if the holiday is simply an occasion for celebration, a holiday baby has to share his celebration with everyone else’s.
The bottom line is that when your birthday is on a holiday, no one gives a shit about your birthday. And maybe I don’t have the most unbiased perspective, but I think Valentine’s Day is the worst. It’s the only holiday that is mixed up with love, romance, and, god forbid, sex, so it’s the only one that pretty much guarantees the birthday boy or girl will absolutely be denied the possibility of love, romance or sex on that fateful day.
And then there’s just all the crap you hear if you’re a Valentine’s Baby. My whole life people, mostly girls, have had absurd reactions to finding out that I was born on February 14th. From the simple, but stupid, “You must be really romantic!” to the more annoying, “Oh, I’ll bet you’re a regular Rudolph Valentino!” to the patently absurd, “I just know you’ve got a cute little naked butt, just like Cupid!”
The truth is every birthday that I’ve ever had has been a disaster. From my seventh, when I wound up being admitted to the hospital with strep throat, to my 10th when my birthday presents were all stolen from my parents’ car, then my 17th when my girlfriend broke up with me, to my 18th when my birthday party — the one that another girlfriend threw for me — was raided by the cops for underage drinking, and finally culminating two years ago, the day that my father died.
So a year ago, when my 21st birthday was about to roll around — on a Saturday, no less — I was none too excited about what the day promised. I thought it best to keep a low profile and stay out of people’s way, and maybe, just maybe, if I was lucky, the day would be uneventful and boring, rather than catastrophic and tragic. Most importantly, I didn’t want anyone to find out it was my birthday.
Most people spend their 21st birthdays in a bar, drinking legally for the first time in their lives. Others host major house parties for which they purchase huge quantities of alcoholic beverages. Neither of these options sounded particularly inviting. Neither did any other options.
So when I was invited to a party on Saturday night at Mike Marcus’ condo, I definitely didn’t want to go. A Valentine’s Day party hosted by the most shallow, superficial, and overprivileged jerk at the entire university? That sounded so awful that it seemed I was destined for just such a fate.
Mike Marcus, or at least his entourage, had been the subject of a lot of derision from my friends and me before that Valentine’s Day. He had this girlfriend — I never knew her name — who was perhaps the dumbest person I have ever met. She was a sex machine, no doubt, and incredibly hot, but dumber than dirt!
One night I happened upon her in the university library, when she was playing with her iPhone. She was wearing some skank outfit and trying to take pictures of herself next to a bust of Golda Meir, for god’s sake! I’m certain she was deeply enthralled with Israeli politics and clearly well aware of the fact that she was posing next to the statue of the woman whose name was emblazoned across the front of the building. Or not.
I was walking by her table, and she stopped me. She had no fucking idea who in the world I was, nor should she have. “Hey, will you take a selfie of me?”
“A selfie of you? Doesn’t my taking your picture negate the selfie descriptor?”
“Huh? Oh my gawd, will you just take the selfie?” She hadn’t the time to deal with the shiftlessness of those of us from the underclasses. So I did it, sucker that I am.
I really didn’t know Mike Marcus, but everything about him screamed hipster jerkoff. He hosted these huge parties, and he seemed to know everyone from everywhere. And he had everything — women, drugs, money, and connections. Maybe I was just jealous, but he didn’t seem like the kind of illegal bahis person I wanted to have anything to do with.
But if I didn’t know Mike, I did know his parties. I had been to two of them, but the most memorable was one last fall when he had probably 2000 people to a shindig at his parents’ mansion on Lake Drive. He had — get this — two bands as well as a deejay playing music, a sound system that most touring bands would envy, and enough intoxicants to provision the Third Army.
The thing that really amazed me about Mike is that despite being the last person in the world that needed money, he had managed to make a few thousand bucks off that little affair — I overheard that one from Golda Meir’s skanky friend! Not that he had done anything particularly underhanded. He’d just charged five bucks a head for shitty beer, and multiplying that five by 2000, he’d pulled down a cool 10 Gs before expenses, which essentially amounted to about 35 kegs of beer and some cheap appetizers, considering that the bands and the deejay all performed for next to nothing.
I was assuming another huge affair on Valentine’s Day, thousands of people, bad band, shitty beer, the whole nine yards of dreadful! But instead, it was supposed to be a tiny, intimate affair at Mike’s high-rise apartment on the lakefront, and according to my friends Laney and Garrett, I had been personally invited.
Laney and Garret were old friends of mine. They had been a couple ever since high school, and they were perfect for each other — two really good people that were made even better by being together. Unfortunately, I always felt like a third wheel when I hung out with them, even though they’d told me countless times that they wanted me there.
I didn’t believe them about the party — Mike didn’t know me — but both Laney and Garrett shared an economics class with him, and insisted that Mike had approached them in the lecture hall on Monday morning and had asked them if they were friends with Ethan Walsh — me.
When they responded affirmatively, he asked them if they would invite me to a small Valentine’s Day get together at his place, and that they were invited as well. He wrote his number on Laney’s hand and asked her to call him back and let him know who would be coming. Then, he told them he hoped that we would make it; that it was really important to someone he cared about.
That night, less than a week before Valentine’s Day, Laney and Garrett laid out the details. When I heard them, I was skeptical, “First, why would Mike Markus want me at one of his parties? He doesn’t even know me.”
“Apparently, he does,” Laney said, holding up her ink-covered hand.
“Okay, assuming that’s true, why would I want to attend his party? I’ve already been to two too many.”
“I don’t think he’s as big an ass as you think he is. Yeah, he’s rich and all, but he a pretty smart guy, and from what he says in Principles of Macroeconomics, he’s no Milton Friedman. Seems pretty Keynesian to me,” Garrett argued. “He actually seems like a pretty, nice guy.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Okay, who’s the person that he cares about, and what does that have to do with me?”
“Okay, good questions. I’ll try to find out in class on Wednesday,” Laney capitulated. I think both of them really wanted to go, which amazed and somewhat disappointed me.
On Wednesday afternoon, I met them in the Student Union. “Well, we found out why you were invited, but… we’re not supposed to tell you. It’s a surprise. But here are the generalities: Mike has a cousin who knows you. That’s who invited you, but that person doesn’t want you to know that, so we can’t tell you the name, even though we know it,” Laney explained.
“I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised, bro,” Garrett promised.
“It’s all so fucking weird,” I said, “And Mike Markus.” I just don’t like all of the mystery.”
“It’ll be okay; you’ll see,” Laney said.
“Okay, tell him I’ll go, but two conditions: do not tell anyone it’s my birthday! Do you understand me, no one! And if I want to leave, we leave immediately, okay?”
“Okay, deal,” she said.
I still didn’t understand; I thought everyone thought Mike Marcus was intolerable. But when Saturday arrived, Laney was almost giddy when she called to get the directions to Mike’s condo. He lived at a place called 1522 on the Lake on the 17th floor. At least I would be 16 stories above any schmuck couples eating romantic dinners at trendy east side restaurants.
We were supposed to come over about 8:00, and I wanted to be fashionably late, but Garrett was driving and so we arrived about 10 minutes after the appointed hour. Just walking into the lobby I knew the place was way too fancy for me to feel comfortable. We took the elevator up to the top, the 17th floor.
When we knocked on the door to 1712, Mike answered. “Laney! Garrett! I’m glad you could come!” illegal bahis siteleri He gave Laney a polite hug, and fist bumped Garrett. We stepped inside a posh apartment, I mean scary posh. “You must be Ethan,” he said. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Mike.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too,” I said. “Thanks for having us.” There was no point in being an asshole.
We walked into this incredible great room with windows on two sides: the east-facing ones overlooked the lake and the lakefront; through the south windows, we had an amazing view of downtown. There were about 10 people sitting around drinking cocktails. I didn’t know any of them, though I recognized several. There was one exception.
Sitting in a leather love seat by herself was Kris Walden, one of my classmates from last semester’s History of Modern Philosophy. I hadn’t seen her since that class had ended.
She was a really cute, sweet girl that I had met for coffee one time at the end of the semester. I would have loved to have kept seeing her, but that was four days before the semester final, a semester during which I had been oblivious to the fact that she was interested in me throughout the better part of our study of Rationalism and Empiricism. Apparently, Kierkegaard brought out her assertive side; and so on the final Saturday of the semester, she asked me if I would join her for coffee at Alterra.
We had had a really nice time together, talking and getting to know each other a little bit. We talked about philosophy, different thinkers that we had read, and kind of where our heads were at philosophically speaking. The thing that I loved about Kris was that even though she was incredibly bright and well-read, she wasn’t a philosophy snob. In fact, despite the fact that she was in love with ideas, she was as humble and unassuming as anyone I’ve ever known.
Pretty soon our conversation shifted to music, and we discovered that we had pretty similar and militantly anti-commercial tastes. And like me, Kris liked all different kinds of music.
I was really attracted to her, and I wanted to call her immediately to invite her out on another date, but instead of calling her the next day, I balked, not wanting to appear overly excited. Then, the next week was really busy what with finals and all. And all of a sudden, it was Christmas and New Years, and a million other things happened.
And then when the spring semester started, it just became harder and harder to place the call. I was embarrassed that I’d been remiss in not calling her sooner. Now we were a month into the new semester, and I figured I probably looked like an asshole — like I was avoiding her. That was the last thing I wanted to do, because I liked her a lot — really a lot.
Kris had it all, as far as I was concerned. She was smart, funny, and beautiful, really beautiful. She was a smallish girl with light, brown hair that fell about her shoulders in gentle curls. Her eyes were hazel — a bright emerald color around the outside that transitioned to a warm brown near the pupils. She had a delicate, little nose that turned up just a bit at the tip, and full, soft lips.
In class, she had always worn glasses — these cat-eyed, brown, tortoise shell frames that made her look really intellectual. Not that she needed to affect an intellectual posture. The moment she opened her mouth in class, everyone from the professor to the stupid jock who was flunking out because he’d mistakenly thought philosophy was a “bird” course knew she was the real deal — a truly brilliant mind that didn’t need to put on airs.
But on that Saturday morning, she surprised me when her gorgeous face smiled back at me without her now-familiar spectacles.
But there was something else about Kris that I found really attractive. Though she was a junior just like me, she looked so young and innocent. She had this indescribable quality about her — an innate curiosity about the world and the ideas that thinkers of all kinds had been juggling around in their heads for centuries, if not millennia, except that her mind was so sharp that her demeanor was also tempered with a kind of gentle wisdom, acceptance, and tolerance of all of those ideas. I was infatuated with that aspect of her.
But then there was her body, and there was nothing innocent about that! I think that’s why she went to such extremes to cover it up. I knew a great body when I saw one, and Kris had a great body. I just had to guess a bit about the details. You see, throughout our time together in philosophy class, she seemed to do everything in her power to keep that spectacular form obscured from view — first with loose-fitting, oversized blouses, and long, flowing skirts, and later with thick sweaters and coats with long tails.
Still, when it came to Kris, I swear I had X-ray vision. I just knew how unbelievable she would look naked, and I had envisioned that scene more than canlı bahis siteleri once, laying in bed with my stiff dick in my hand. Tonight, she was dressed in such a way that I didn’t need to do nearly so much imagining.
She looked so different. Gone were her glasses, and in their place, she wore a lot of makeup, especially around her eyes. She was also wearing a sort of taupe-colored, satin dress that sported its own wide, black, faux leather belt, which cinched around her tiny waist. Even though it was winter outside, the dress bared her shoulders with slender, matching faux leather straps. The hem was cut so high that it exposed most of her toned legs. On her feet, she wore a pair of strapped clog heels.
I was surprised to see how tanned she was, like she’d spent time in a salon. That seem inconsistent with the image I had of Kris, but it was also very sexy. I later found out she’d spent two weeks between semester break in the Cayman Islands, soaking up the sun. In addition, her arms, legs, and shoulders were adorned with a number of tattoos, which also surprised me.
But one attribute stood out above the rest. Her low-cut neckline accented a pair of incredible breasts, featuring a matinee necklace with a heart-shaped, sterling silver pendant that I could just barely make out as it disappeared into her cleavage. Through all my imaginings, I could never have envisaged tits so perfect.
But once my senses were able to soak all of her up, my brain took over. A lot of things didn’t make sense to me. First, what was Kris doing here? She didn’t seem to fit in with any of these people. She was really intelligent, a deep thinker, and just too good a person to hang out with shallow people like Mike and his ilk. I figured I would have to spend the night finding out.
I quickly approached her half empty love seat, absurdly fearful that someone else would take it before I could, “Kris, I’m surprised to see you here! How have you been?” I realized immediately that I must have looked bad in her eyes, that I hadn’t called her since our coffee date. “I’m so sorry I haven’t called you,” I apologized.
“Ethan! I’m so glad you could make it! I’ve missed you!” I was a little confused; she seemed as if she had been expecting me.
Before I could say anything, Mike interrupted, “Ethan, Kris tells me you’re enamored by the Christian Existentialists. I thought you might be interested to see what I gave her for her birthday.”
I turned to Kris who reached down to an end table next to her that was covered with spent gift wrap, and, smiling brightly, held up a hardbound copy that offered two of Kierkegaard’s best works Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death. “Kind of where the whole thing started, don’t you agree?” Mike said.
I did agree. These were two books that Kris and I had discussed on a couple of occasions, including that Saturday at coffee. They were important books. I was dumbfounded that Mike, of all people, had given them to her. But that wasn’t the only thing that dumbfounded me.
“When is your birthday, Kris?” I asked.
She looked at me, smiling beatifically, “Today,” she said. “I’m a Valentine’s bab….”
“Really?” Laney interrupted, and before I could flash her a dirty look, she was out with it, “You know, it’s Ethan’s birth….” She caught herself, but it was already too late.
“Ethan, it’s your birthday too?” Kris asked with amazement. I was incredibly embarrassed, and I was certain that the evening had just been ruined. I shook my head affirmatively, but didn’t say anything. Everyone in the room was looking at me.
“I’m really sorry, Ethan,” Laney said. She turned to the rest of the party, “He didn’t want anyone to know. He’s had bad luck with birthdays. It was the one thing he made us promise about coming over here, and I broke that promise before we’ve even sat down.”
“Well,” Mike said, smiling. “I guess this birthday party’s got two guests of honor. “Happy Birthday, Ethan!” he said with absolute sincerity.
My birthday news seemed to have had a strange effect on the whole scene. Instead of the small conversations that had been happening between one, two or three people, everyone got up from their seats, shook my hand and wished me a Happy Birthday. The music started pumping from Mike’s stunningly great stereo system, and the party was on.
And I, in turn, wished Kris a Happy Birthday, as well as a Happy Valentine’s Day. It was a weird epiphany. Not only was she the first person that I had ever met that was also born on Valentine’s Day, but we had, in fact, been born on exactly the same day, only two hours apart.
From what Mike had said, I knew that this little get together was Kris’ birthday party, and I found out from her that she had asked him to invite me. But I was still a bit behind on some of the other details. “How do you know, Mike?” I asked her a few minutes later as I sat on the love seat with her, sipping a glass of some amazing single malt Scotch.
She looked at me a little strangely. “Oh, I thought you knew,” she said, “we’re first cousins. His mother is my mother’s older sister. We’ve known each other since we were toddlers.”
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