Maxwell Harrington was awesome at being born. He was like Tom Cruise – the eighties version, not the new Scientology remix. He was so great, it often strained his relationships with really attractive women; it took a special sort of comically hot scientist or doctor lady, to understand him. He was the best.
When it was time for him to be born, he said to himself, I’m not going to screw around, be born in a third world country or back in 1825 or anything. That would be a sucker move.
No, as a cosmic, disembodied soon-to-be born hardass, he leaned against the pool table of the universe, lining up his shot, knowing like Eminem had told him, you only get one shot, baby.
So he took his time. Picked a piece of lint off the felt – miniscule to lots of people. Seemingly insignificant, but not to him.
Maxwell Harrington chalked up his Being Born Cue, and blocked out the techno jukebox and he stood aside politely, while a couple of ladies went by. He didn’t want to be distracted.
When he took his shot, he was drawing upon all his knowledge of Being Born, all that he had accumulated, in wherever you are before you are born.
He stood on his toes, to get a bird’s-eye view of the United States of America, mid-to-late twentieth century. He was going to have to watch out for that Vietnam War – it looked like it could really tie him up.
Me, in the Midwest pocket, he said, and blam!
There he was.
When you think a few moves ahead like that – and many of us lack the mental capacity to even start to think like that – it really pays off. He didn’t have to worry about starvation, for instance, even though about five billion other people did.
But that’s how it works, if you’re just going to walk up to the table and fire. You end up in Madagascar or Siberia or something, a bunch of tanks and alligators and microscopic diseases, all lined up to knock you right back out of the game.
No, he didn’t have to worry about that, because of his awesomeness in his selection of birthing locations. And he was able to take advantage of the perks involved, in being a baby, in the place he was born. For instance, he was given food and medical care absolutely any time he needed or wanted it, and frequently, even when he didn’t.
People bought him tiny little shoes, even before he could walk! He liked to put the shoes in his mouth and then take them out again, slobbering.
Yes, and Maxwell Harrington grew to maturity with a decent education – not the best in the world, but decent. See, he had meant to put a little backspin on the Being Born cue ball, leave himself in New England or maybe Texas. In a mansion, you know what I’m saying? But there’s a little bit of chance in every game, and he had to work with what he got; them’s the breaks.
But some people, he noticed, just seemed like they staggered up to the table and took a random shot. They were born all over the place – as if they’d had no choice in the matter at all, and it bothered him that they felt like they were entitled to the stuff he had earned. By being born properly. You know, in a hospital.
He had his own problems. Sure, he was fed and clothed and educated and encouraged throughout his rather charmed childhood, to speak his mind and pursue his dreams. And it was true, he’d been given the tools and resources to make his life into whatever he wanted it to be.
When people suggested that he had a LOT more to work with, in terms of hammering out a life, than most of the people on the planet, he didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. It’s not my fault you were born in Mexico or Belize or Haiti, he’d say. What exactly were you thinking anyway?
Maxwell Harrington would tell them – I’ve got my own problems. I mean, sure, no one had raped his mom while he watched as a child, or locked her in a pit and let soldiers do the same thing over and over. He hadn’t been beaten into submission and conscripted into a freaking military force at the age of ten, or anything like that. And, sure, he had never lived in a hovel with fourteen kids, no, never crouched in a root cellar, trying not to cough while boots kicked dust through cracks in the boards.
And if you wanted to split hairs, it was true that whenever there was a threat of any kind at all, he had a little computer phone in his pocket. He could call the cops or the fire department or an ambulance. Or just get directions if he were lost. And if you pressed him, he would acknowledge that he had no clue what it would be like, to not have such a device in his pocket.
And I mean, sure, he usually ate more than a mouthful of rice in a given day. Sometimes he would eat five or six full meals, and then go to a gym where he could simulate physical labor and distress, to try and melt the meals away again.
Yet even without the horrific trials of the third world, Maxwell Harrinton was oddly positive that if he actually were to encounter them, he would prevail. Even without the five million advantages he’d gained, from being born where he had been born, he figured – and sure, he was just eyeballing it – that he probably would have ended up in the same winning place, anyway.
That was another awesome thing about Maxwell Harrington – he had complete and utter confidence in his ability to function without the stuff his mommy and daddy had given him, even though, of course, he had never done so. Not even close.
Everybody wanted something for free. Something from him. Things they could have easily acquired, if they had simply had the foresight to be born in the right place.
I mean, if we all parachuted out of a flaming plane and landed on a deserted island, and Maxwell Harrington landed in a grocery truck, and everyone else landed on the beach, what would we want him to do, share the groceries?
These are his groceries; you should have landed in the truck.
Then one day, when he was walking out of the mall, a very angry man – who had definitely been born in the wrong place – beat him to death with a tire iron, and for some reason, Maxwell Harrington was really, really surprised.
The Curse of Future Tom