At perhaps my strangest birthday, in 1989, I had friends and family together at my house. One friend (who I’ve lost touch with—where are you, Jenny Choi?) bought me a copy of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses—hot on the controversy tip, and just prior to the fatwa. My family got me a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—the first time I had heard most of that album.
And a couple of my friends decided to get me a belly dancer. Yep, at my house. I was so mortified I didn’t even know where to look—which was, perhaps, the point. I still don’t know whether to thank Jim and Andrew or throttle them.
And what’s most astonishing to me is that that particular memory is almost old enough to be drafted. Half a life ago.