Glass House

My world is weirder than your world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Sooner or later someone is going to ask, so I might as well get it done with. Here's how the invisibility thing goes, as much as I understand it myself.

As I mentioned already, I was born invisible. This was in 1978 at a university hospital in Virginia. What it must have looked like I don't know -- I have a vivid imagination, but I try not to imagine this particular scene too vividly. I am told (this is all from my mother) that it freaked the nurses out something fierce, and that it was about a minute before anyone found me. The fluids were invisible too.

Once the doctor figured it out, he was remarkably fast on the uptake. He felt around for the cord and snipped it very carefully. He wiped me off, took my heartbeat, weighed me, did everything himself. Then he declared a false labor, told the nurses my mother was to be discharged immediately, and helped get the two of us out to the car. There was no documentation that a child was born. I assume he managed to talk the nurses into secrecy; anyway, if anybody talked about it, my mother never heard.

The doctor -- let's call him Dr. Erstens -- came by our house several times in my first few months. He got me a birth certificate, looked after my mom, and eventually referred us to another doctor, Dr. Zweitens. (I know. I'm not even trying.) I remember Dr. Z as a youngish black man with a big smile. He wasn't a pediatrician, but he gave me checkups every year, and he was the one who fixed me up when I got injured, which was a lot when I was a small kid.

He also gave my mother some very specific advice about dealing with the child services agencies and the schools. Where he got this information I have no idea; all he'd tell my mother is "this makes sense, this is what I would do." But the obvious implication to me is that I wasn't the only strange child in Virginia -- and probably not the first one that Dr. Erstens delivered. If it happened so often that some doctors knew what to do, and had procedures for making end runs around the government -- that boggles my mind.

I know the obvious question, too: Where was Dear Old Dad during all this? Honestly, I wish I knew. I know my father's name, and I know he was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. That's about all I know. My mom won't give me the details -- we've argued at length about it -- but the impression I get was that they had an argument shortly after my birth, which he missed due to some assignment. I think she kicked him out. Maybe he wanted to sell me to science, I don't know. Or maybe he thought she'd cheated, since he was visible but the baby wasn't. I can think of a number of theories. None of them really matter.


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