The Most Charming Child

A number of years ago,  just after  my parents died, my sister divided up  their material possessions between me, my brother and herself.  Actually, as I think about it, that distribution more likely took place when they went into a nursing home a year or so before they died.  The nursing home that ought to have been called, as all nursing homes ought, “Death’s Foyer”.   (Not to be confused with, “Death’s Waiting Room”…which is most of Florida.)

For some reason my sister, Charnie (not a typo-my sister has a unique name) gave  me many of my mother’s keepsakes;  mostly assorted documents and photos.  As I’m thinking about these items that she bestowed on me, I’m starting to wonder what it is that Charnie didn’t give me.  It seems that she gets a cool new car each year and she’s the one with the fancy condo in South Beach.   But, that’s not what I want to talk about…at least not now.

My mother kept things.  And the best and most important stuff was kept in a small metal safety box.  I guess it was supposed to be fireproof.  So, when I wound up going through its contents, I came across some very neat things.  For example, a copy of my father’s transcript from Kerhonkson Highschool from which he graduated in 1928. (Graduating class of five.) Also, a refund check from Con Edison for $1.46, dated August 12, 1946.  (I’m starting to think about Charnie’s condo again).  A few weeks ago I did some more fishing around and came across something that really threw me.  A photo of me when I was about four or five on the back of which was affixed an entry form for a contest being sponsored by The Daily Mirror  for “The Most Charming Child”.  (For the uninitiated, The Mirror was a tabloid rival of The Daily News that  stopped publishing in the 60’s).   Now, what sent me into a tailspin was the information on the entry form.  It had my parents’ names, address, telephone number and the birth date of the aforementioned Most Charming Child.  One problem…the date was wrong!  Both the day and the year!  It had me listed as one year and five days older than what I think I am.  I’m already struggling with the notion of getting older….and now this!! 

Lots of thoughts starting swimming in my head.  I began questioning my whole identity-my meness.  Am I who I think I am; if not, who am I?  How does this affect my kids if, in fact they are mine.  Will I still be the youngest at the seder and be called on to ask the Four Questions?  This new finding raised so many questions…way more than four.  My brother, as part of his endless teasing, had always said I was adopted.  Was this some  evidence?  Even if he was making it up and  I was biologically who I thought I was, if the date was correct, this meant, if nothing else,  that I  was more than a year closer to my Maker.  Aside from collecting Social Security a little earlier, I couldn’t think of one good thing  this new information would do for me.  

I kept looking at the photo and the application for some clues.  The photo had been returned and  stamped by The Mirror,  “Received Damaged”.  I don’t believe this is the “early childhood damage” that psychologists (at least mine) talk about.   The photo simply had a crease in it.  I began rifling through some other papers in that metal case.  And then, I found it….my original birth certificate!  Which indeed, had the date of birth I’ve been relying on my entire life.  I couldn’t come up with any reason that would explain my mother putting down the wrong date.

This past weekend I saw Charnie at a cousin’s wedding. I checked my envy and suspicions at the door, and made a beeline to show her the discrepancy I’d come across.  She took one look at the entry form and said, “that’s Daddy’s printing”.  Mystery solved!  It all made sense….at least it made sense in that there was no longer a nefarious angle to the story.  Just my father being a little loose with some facts.  But I can’t help but wonder if he knew the birth dates of his other two children.  But then, again….he didn’t think that either of them was  The Most Charming Child.

Charming? Maybe....but the MOST charming. No

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7 Responses to “The Most Charming Child”

  1. ed Says:

    Iago says, “I am not what I am.” Could this literary evildoer have turned out the way he did because Daddy didn’t know his birthday? Holy crap! What are my kids’ birthdays?!?

  2. einrahc Says:

    let me just say one thing, BOTH our parents knew My birthday!
    your sister,einrahc

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      maybe that helps to explain the cars and the condo. i’m seeing a pattern here.
      and i don’t like it.

  3. LB Says:

    Did you put Spanky Mcfarlands picture on your blog by mistake.
    LB

  4. Claudia 1 Says:

    More charming than spanky

  5. Ray Says:

    Neil,
    Catching up!

    You have my vote!! But please don’t tell me that you are jealous of NOT having a condo in South Beach or a fancy car!!! You can have it all….. but what would you do with it? The image of you on your scooter with that macho helmet of yours suits you fine.

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