MOULTRIE — I’m for real. I can prove it. I finally have a genuine birth certificate.
It took a while, but now I’m prepared when I go to get my driver’s license renewed or if I should apply for a passport. I can prove that I was born, even though my IRS documents and the fact that I’ve been driving with a legal license since I was 16 should have been ample documentation.
As well, there are a few people I could get to swear that I grew up with them and that I’m an American citizen in good standing. In fact, one of my best childhood friends, Mickey, and I were born on the same day in the same hospital. I was born that morning, and he came along that afternoon. For years we lived no more than five miles apart as the crow flies.
For all these many years, my dogs had more papers on them than I did. I’m not sure if that means anything or if it means everything.
You can’t show a dog in an American Kennel Club competition if you don’t have papers on it. Of course I don’t know of any kind of competition I would be in that would require papers.
I don’t even think you have to have papers to win a Pulitzer. I have never competed for a Pulitzer.
And besides, I have my Horse’s Ass Award which I keep proudly displayed in my office — something almost as prestigious as a Pulitzer for little old country newspaper editors. It basically means that the “powers that be” can’t intimidate you.
In the dog analogy, the big difference here is that I know I have papers. But the dog doesn’t know it has papers. It doesn’t know what was required of it to get papers. And it simply doesn’t give a rip. A long time ago Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Likewise, a dog barks, it scratches, it licks and it chases cars. Therefore, it is.
It took a little over two months for me to get a genuine birth certificate. It only took my two sisters a few days.
The irony is that I was the only one in my family born in a hospital, yet the state had no record of my birth in any of the many volumes of Georgia bureaucracy, so I had to run a gauntlet of accreditation. They had records on my mom, dad and sisters, all of whom were born at home.
It was like I was being groomed to be a secret agent, and I would be disavowed if I ever screwed up and overthrew the wrong government. No paper trail.
But I knew early on I could not be a double-naught spy simply because of my physical appearance. I was the only red-headed, freckled-face boy in the class. I couldn’t get away with anything. I stood out like a neon sign advertising two-for-one beer. If they had put me in a line-up, it would have been the same as having a little cloud hovering over my head with an arrow pointing down to me. I might have blended into the mix in northern Ireland but probably nowhere else.
So I got this email today, among the 250 that I average every day. It said it might be time “to reinvent yourself.” I guess they assumed I would not get a birth certificate.
They were speaking metaphorically, of course, suggesting that some people just need a major change in their lives.
This is not a new concept at all. Famous Yankee baseball player Yogi Berra, known for his wit and wisdom, once said, “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.”
And yes we often come upon those forks — unless of course you are Chinese. They have never discovered forks.
Now a lot of people are proud to show that they have gun toting permits or lifetime membership in the John Birch Society, etc. I’m just glad now that I can prove that I’m real. I have papers.
Walden is publisher and editor of the Moultrie Observer.