…and a fire-truck, and a new bike, and a Red Ryder Carbine Action, 200 Shot, Range Model Air Rifle…

So, all Choire wants for his birthday is a story that I wouldn’t otherwise tell. In his honor, I shall tell one. It’s not particularly sordid or compelling, but it is something I rarely mention:

I am a weird guy. This is not based solely on personal opinion, or, this-one-time-at-band-camp stories. I’ve come to this conclusion through the opinion of others. I have been called: weird, odd, strange, dramatic, eccentric, sick, off, disturbed, unique, abnormal, curiouser and curiouser, and a host of other names that illustrate that I have not been successful in fitting in the box society built for me. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, though. I don’t have any tattoos, my hair’s the same color it was when I was born (actually, that’s not true, I was born blond but ended up brown), I wear my underwear inside my pants instead of out, I have a normal job, and I function reasonably well from day to day. Apparently, though, it’s not the way I look, it’s the things I say, or more correctly, the thoughts I think. As with most people, as you get to know me you begin to develop a more lucid picture of what’s going on inside of me.

As near as I can tell, there’s something weird with that picture…but I digress.

More often than not, my weirdness is explained by those around me by the phrase, “Oh, he’s an only child? That explains it!”. Enter the part of the story I don’t usually tell. To all outside observers, I am an only child. I have no siblings, I’m spoiled rotten, and I don’t know the joys of sharing a room. Even so, this is not entirely true, I once had a sister.

Well, that’s not entirely true either. My parents once had a daughter. She was born about a year before I was, and lived only one day, killed by complications during childbirth. Her name was Stacy Ann Kleeman, and I’m sure I would have loved her very much. I’ve never been to her grave, and never talked at length about her with my parents. All I know is that she existed, and that she was my sister, in a way.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would have ever been born if Stacy’s life hadn’t ended so tragically. Sometimes, I wonder if we would have ever even gotten along. Most times, though, I just think it’s sad. Consequently, whenever someone says “Oh, he’s an only child? That explains it!”, I do a little evaluation in my head. Do I want this person to feel bad? Is it really relevant? Do I want to talk about this right now? Most of the time the answer to these questions is “no”, and I keep my story to myself; partially so as not to upset the person, and partially not to upset me. I always feel guilty not saying anything, though, as if I am not properly honoring the memory of my sister (a memory I don’t, strictly speaking, actually have). I feel like explaining my behavior away as being the result of a single upbringing, completely dismisses a life that didn�t have a chance to begin, but that has had an affect on me all the same.

So, should I ever meet you, and you ask if I have any siblings, if I hesitate before saying “no”, understand why.

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