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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Birthday Card from Chuck Palahniuk

John Taraborelli

You wake up in a cheap hotel on a mattress still sticky with the night before. Sweat. Booze. Semen. Vomit. Blood, maybe. You roll over and try to bring a name to the tip of your tongue before the other person wakes up.

These are your memories.

You wake up on your Simmons BackCare Advanced mattress with foam core and pocketed springs, underneath your Ralph Lauren SuPima cotton, 350-threadcount sheets, to the full-range, high-fidelity sound of your Sharper Image Sound Soother alarm clock with aluminum-cone speaker technology.

These are the things that make up your life.

Wake up.

Go to work.

Come home and fall asleep on the couch to game shows or infomercials. Wake up the next day and start the cycle over again.

Celebrate your birthday. Drinks with friends, coworkers—what’s the difference really?

Cake at the office.

Your mother calls.

You are a special person and this is your special day.

You blow out the candles and secretly wish for a car accident, a heart attack, colon cancer. A home invasion. Anything to shock you back to your senses. You close your eyes and visualize a plane going down in the Atlantic, cutting your trip to the Virgin Islands tragically short.

If you tell anyone your wish, it won’t come true.

This is the life you chose. Happy birthday.

John Taraborelli lives and writes in Providence, R.I. He is the author of 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray and several of The Federalist Papers. Some of his lesser known work appears in Providence Monthly and His best-selling novel has yet to be published, written, or even imagined, but still manages to be cheaply derivative of F. Scott Fitzgerald.