By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf
November 15, 2006
Sometimes, life experiences kick so much ass that when things start to suck (in the shitty way), we can rely merely on the memory of them to make us feel better. These moments are what I call, “clingers,” and this is another one of mine.
In 2004, I was sitting in The Local Pub next to my buddy, who due to recent legal troubles has asked me never to write his name again (even though I only used what was essentially a nickname) but whatever, I’m calling him Babyface. Now, this was no ordinary day in 2004, this was the day in which the Cardinals were drubbed out of the World Series by the Red Sox (to all of you non-sports fans, don’t worry, this has nothing to do with sports).
Babyface, a diehard Yankees fan, was genuinely pissed off that the he was gonna have to hear tons of shit from his Red Sox fan buddies (payback is a bitch), and the mere thought of it caused Babyface to break a chair. At which time, Kyle the bartender requested that I—and I’m quoting (kinda)—“get [Babyface] the fuck out of here.”
“He jumped up and down and started screaming, ‘You’re the fucking guy! I’ve been looking for you my whole life!'”
So we went to a bar that had been raided the night before. We knew it would be empty and we knew that we could drown our sorrows alone. And we were right. When we walked in, the two of us brought the total of patrons in the place all the way up to two.
We sat down at the bar and bitched about the game.
Our bartender, a rather large Mexican, came up and ID’d us. Then he said to me, “Wow, dude. You were born the same day, month and year as me. I’ll buy you a shot for that. What do you want?”
“Chilled Jaeger, thanks,” I replied.
“You’re a Christmas baby, too huh?” I asked, when he returned with our shots.
And we drank the shots and bullshitted.
And as often happens when three guys drink alone in a bar, we got to know each other. At one point in the conversation, our bartender asked us where we were from.
I responded with, “St. Louis,” because, though I wasn’t born there, I lived there from kindergarten through high school, so I called it home.
Then, out of courtesy, I asked him where he was from.
“Holland, Michigan,” he said.
And I couldn’t fucking believe it.
“You know,” I said, “I was born in Holland, Michigan.”
And he jumped up and down and started screaming, “You’re the guy! You’re the fucking guy! I’ve been looking for you my whole life!”
And I was pretty sure he was about to kick my ass (he was excited and the words “you’re the guy” had never actually yielded me good fortune before), so I nodded at Babyface to get my back. He nodded back. I took that as a good sign.
“Oh, your drinks are on the house, my friend. I can’t believe I finally met the other guy from the picture,” said the bartender.
“What??” I practically shouted.
“You and me, we were the ‘Christmas Babies.’ We were on the front page of the Holland Sentinel.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked. “I’m calling my mom.”
“Fine,” said the bartender. “I’m calling my mom, too.” Keep in mind, this was at roughly 1 AM Eastern Time.
I called my mom, and while the bartender and his mom spoke excitedly in Spanish, Mom and me had the following conversation:
Me: Mom, when I was born, were me and you and some Mexican kid and his mother on the front page of the Holland paper?
Me: Are you sure?
Me: Are you positive?
Mom: Nate, I was there. In fact, I think that picture’s on the front page of your baby book.
Me: I have a baby book?
Me: How come I didn’t know this?
Mom: We told you a few times, but you never cared so we stopped showing it to you. Anyway, why are you calling me and asking me this now?
Me: Because I just met the other kid from the picture.
Mom: Oh my God.
Apparently, because I moved to St. Louis when I was four, I never gave much thought to the kids from Holland, Michigan, mainly because I couldn’t remember them, which had something to do with me being four years old, I think. But Jesus (as was the bartender’s name, in reference to him being born on Christmas—and in case you were curious, my parents did it too: Nathan means “Gift of God” in Hebrew) had lived in Holland until he was eighteen, and that picture of our mothers and us had been on the wall of his den that whole time. So he had always wondered, what happened to the kid from the picture? He knew everyone in town. And he never could figure it out.
And then I walked in and ordered a drink.
Kinda neat, huh? Or as Babyface said while we walked home that night: “Man, I know Florida’s a small world because people be coming here from all over America and everything, but seriously, that is one genuinely fucked up, jumbo-sized, butter-covered, motherfucking coincidence.”
Indeed it was. And I’ll never forget it.