Saturday, February 05, 2011

"I was born ready" deserves a verbal lashing.

"Are you ready?"
"I was born ready."

No you weren't. No one was.

Whether naturally birth'd from mother's womb or descendants of Macduff untimely ripp'd, each and everyone one amongst us were - in a moment of shrieking confusion - born of woman. Under programmed, under prepared, and quite frankly, under dressed for the occasion. How does one iron a birthday suit, anyway? Out, damn'd wrinkles! Out, I say!

Throughout my 26 years putzing around this big blue marble, "I was born ready" has consistently amped up Hollywood moments when unbridled heroism needs exerting. Whether foiling a terrorist plot, jumping out of an airplane without a chute, conquering Atlanta's latest zombie invasion, or aceing the SAT after a night of underage drinking, cinema has proven unabashed bravery and gumption trumps any form of actual knowledge or experience. A foolhardy notion given the ill-stocked bookshelves in our amniotic sacs.

The only opportunity I'd ever accurately and authentically use the phrase is to answer a query specifically reserved for an actual newborn.

"William, are you ready to suckle that teat?"
"I was born ready."

Yes you were. We all were.

If Hollywood has taught me anything (aside from every word to Disney Studio's 1989 full-length animated feature film, The Little Mermaid), it's that the most Everyman among us - without adequate pretense or proper training - is naturally programmed "ready" for life at its absolute wildest. Said programming - in reality - is preposterous, given the basic childhood motor skills of smiling and cooing don't flourish until 4-6 weeks. Therefore, believing a toddler is pre-prepared to save the world from the Zombie Holocaust is like assuming a junior in high school is ready to take a semester's end math exam without knowing a lick of calculus.

"Are you ready for tomorrow's test?" mother asks, with a lump of worry in her throat. Mathematics was never his strong suit, she thinks. He got that from his father. That, and the diabetes.

"Mom," he coolly replies, in between bites of an inadequate breakfast, "I was born ready." He wipes his milk mustache, leaving a white streak along the sleeve of Aunt Coleen's Christmas sweater. "Now ... pass me some more Oreos."

Do what he says, she worries. He also inherited his father's temper. She swiftly slides the Double Stuffs across the dinette, cautiously covering the burst capillaries upon her right shoulder. Father and mother had a disagreement over the lump-to-mash ratio in the night prior's potatoes.

First off, don't let that man hit you no more!
Secondly, mother, perhaps your son could better tackle mathematical challenges with a more balanced breakfast jump-starting his day. Cookies and milk is no substitute for hearty whole grains and juicy fruit slices.
Thirdly, having never learned that a geodesic connects the curve of two points to begin with, there is no fathomable way he's prepared for tomorrow's test.

Grades, like his insulin levels, are failing. Sonny might have been born Type-1, but he was not "born ready."

Oreos and calculus aside, if life has taught me anything else (aside the joys of a David Rakoff novel), it's that I was born with absolutely nothing. No knowledge of how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, or even know my own name, much less the entire catalogue of every Stephen Sondheim musical from 1954 to 2003. Oh yes, that's Saturday Night through Bounce. No, I cleared those hurdles after years of practice, patience, repetition, and, in the case of Sondheim's lyrics, faggot-based mockery from peers. Yeah, the ones we call 'friends' are the most understanding of all.

Was I "born ready" to, at the drop of a hat, master any given handful of audacious Hollywood stunts? No, sir or madame. Yet, on Wednesday, December 1, 1984, at roughly 1:32PM, I was born with a 34-year-old Polish fella and a 32-year-old Greek lady prepared to tackle the challenge of raising a little me. A feat, in my eyes, bigger and braver than aceing all the world's math exams, dunking all the world's Oreos, and eradicating the undead End of Days combined.

But I still don't know how to do calculus.

1 comment:

Jacob Dane said...

This is a brilliant article! Thanks for sharing!