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Black Cat on My Birthday

I can’t say why I wear black. Despite being an architect by profession, I am not typically a ‘joiner’ and usually hew true to my independent nature. I’m not one to see the world in binary fashion–black or white—but revel in the complexity and contradictions of life, the Rationalist in me fully trusting that Wisdom lies in knowing how little you actually know.

As it turned out, my birthday– January 18–was one of black’s days in the sun: American Censorship Day. Websites all around the internet were blacked-out voluntarily, or wore a black banner in protest of a proposed regulation that would likely change the internet as we know it. While the Accidental Cootchie Mama had penned an effusive paean to MTM to run on my birthday, the coincident urgency of the black-out meant the homage had to wait, and the first web site I read every morning provided a tantalizing teaser without the tribute.

The silent black protest, however, was not complete. Beginning from the earliest hour, my blackberry tweeted and chirped with huzzahs and happy birthdays, the Facebook notification alert that I can’t seem to turn off, no matter how little I actually appear on any social media site. Far-flung friends and family fomented the future failure of the postal service, sending regards and salutations with nary a stamp. The black cloud lifted like a heavy eyelid, a squinting smile washing over the morning.

Birthdays tempt us to imagine that all of a day is for us alone, an ego-stroke that swells us up by a factor of 1/365th. Who would deny us our date to surf above the black depths of the sea, to sparkle like a supernova in the black night sky, if only for a nanosecond in eternity.

And with this elan I greeted the world, skimming rather than slogging to the salt mine. Zipping around the last corner before the office, a pair of green eyes pierced through an arched black penumbra: a black cat, petrified in my path. I maneuvered the Mini to the left; the cat cartwheeled to the right.

Close call, or perilous portend?

My hand on the wheel, or the hand of fate? For an instant, Rationality and Wisdom wither from the challenge of the black cat.

Each day we wrestle with our future, but even more so as we mark another lap in our race with time. It might be a solitary struggle, but when love speaks, we know we are not alone in it. I thank all who sent me birthday wishes, whether in a comment, on Facebook, by e.mail or text.

And I thank the love of my life for being by my side, being with me for the ride, and for the poignant paean that finally got published, banishing the blackness.

-MTM

35 Comments Post a comment
  1. Blackouts can’t censor the cheering section for MTM (suddenly thinking you backup nickname should be the Accidental Cootchie Daddy. Yes? No?)

    January 19, 2012
    • Accidental Cootchie Daddy. I think that’s hilarious, Angie.

      January 19, 2012
      • Vote for ACD! MTM for ACD!

        January 20, 2012
      • mtm #

        Andra votes for AC/DC, I think.

        January 20, 2012
  2. Amy #

    A very happy birthday to you! We share a birthday ~ I celebrated the half century mark on Wed. :)

    January 19, 2012
    • mtm #

      Well, Happy Birthday to you…belatedly. Hope it was remarkable.

      January 20, 2012
  3. I tend to be highly superstitious. There is NO point to this little ditty, except to prove that it was written when misogyny was in and black cats were out. You’re supposed to say it whenever a black cat crosses your path to dispel bad luck. It’s a call and answer rhyme, so you need two people (or a split personality like me) to do it ‘right’. You hook pinkies and say the last line together, then snap your pinkies apart at ‘broken’.

    Needles Pins
    When a man marries? His troubles begin.
    What goes up the chimney? Smoke.
    What comes down the chimney? Santa Claus.
    Hope this wish will never be broken!

    And then you make a wish which doesn’t come true. And in do doing, you avert the bad luck. The bad luck becomes you not getting the wish.

    Hmm….. looking at this on paper, it looks even more completely nutters than when my Mom and I used to say it all the time. Since we had three black cats for pets.

    January 19, 2012
    • mtm #

      Andra and I prefer ‘blood pacts’ with our thumbs, rather than pinkies…for what it’s worth.

      January 20, 2012
  4. Black is the new Black. :D

    I’m glad you missed the cat . . . without breaking a mirror . . . or driving under a ladder.

    January 19, 2012
    • mtm #

      I actually had to avoid it twice…after I got out of the car to walk to the office, it came back out and stared me down…and then bounded off to the UK to his 9:00 appointment.

      January 20, 2012
  5. Too much talent and creativity for one household! I admire! And I do choose to think of my birthday as my very special day…for me alone! I think we all deserve one good day a year to stroke our egos! Debra

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      How could I not agree?

      January 20, 2012
  6. *sigh* That was lovely. These black cats have packed filofaxes, you know: they’re busier and more focused than we think. He probably squeezed you in between his 8:30 and his 9:00.

    Trust the Black Cat Ministry to send you a ninja black cat. Most appropriate.

    Anyhow, he/she knows something you don’t know. I shall settle in for 365 days of Accidental Cootchie Mama, waiting to see what’s in store. I just know it’s going to be good and could well involve martial arts.

    Hope you both had a lovely day :-)

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      Did I hear that you were the 9:00 appointment?

      January 20, 2012
  7. Our birthdays somehow are special, maybe because others make them so? But its good for one in any case.

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      I guess they’re a little like trees in the forest…it is only recognized if you make a ruckus about it, or if others do so on your behalf.

      January 20, 2012
  8. Well hello – two eloquent and erudite people in one household ;) Superb piece!

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      Hello, and thanks.

      January 20, 2012
  9. Great post, Shadow Ninja, and so skillfully escaping the personal “thank you’s” that would require your presence on Facebook. Well done, sir!

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      The Shadow knows black.

      January 20, 2012
  10. Wow, that could have been a cat-astrophe!

    January 20, 2012
    • Groan!

      January 20, 2012
      • Come on, it wasn’t that bad. Not cataclysmic or anything. But I didn’t want to just pussyfoot around either.

        January 20, 2012
      • That just catalyzed my desire to say, “OH NO!”

        January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      Sorry, playing catch-up on the comments tonight…Though it might be cathartic to categorize your comments as deserving of catcalls and flogging with a cat-o-nine-tails, I’m not lyin’ when I say you captured a whole catalog of cat puns!

      January 20, 2012
  11. “Each day we wrestle with our future, but even more so as we mark another lap in our race with time. It might be a solitary struggle, but when love speaks, we know we are not alone in it.”

    This phrase speaks volumes. I would like to share across my networks (giving proper credit, of course, if that’s ok). Happy Belated Birthday to you, Michael! Thanks for this post. We hear so much about you here – it’s nice to hear from you, too!

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      I could add some wry commentary about my post being copyrighted and how if you use it it may be a SOPA-PIPA violation and the black hats will come and get you, but instead I’ll just say I would be honored if you saw fit to share it.

      January 20, 2012
  12. Wow. The two of you do one talented couple make.

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      But I have to work much harder at it.

      January 20, 2012
  13. Another man wrote this with what I think was similar intent:

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
    William Shakespeare, SONNET 116

    January 20, 2012
    • mtm #

      Lyrical, Cheryl, which means I have difficulty understanding it…ask Andra.

      January 20, 2012
  14. Terrific post! And what an exciting birthday you had! Personally, I like to celebrate my arrival on Earth during the whole month of October. One day never seems to be enough… :D

    January 20, 2012
  15. mtm #

    Ah yes…Birthday Month. You have a kindred spirit in Andra.

    January 20, 2012
  16. Sorry for the late wishes but I hope you had a great birthday! :)

    January 21, 2012
  17. Belated happy birthday. Black cats are considered bad luck here.

    January 21, 2012

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