My birthday, October 13th, has always felt lucky to me. Of course, there are lots of logical reasons why October probably feels lucky for everyone, not just Libras who want to interpret randomness as evidence that they are the main character of life.
There are crisp, blue-skied days, during which you can spend a lot of time outside running into everyone you know, increasing the chances of every kind of kismet. Sometimes budgets expire at the end of the year, so it's prime time to sell a book, get a plum assignment, or even get hired for a job. Both of my children were conceived in the fall, just like the offspring of many other long-gestating mammals. It's all just boring science and probability, but because I am the SPECIAL BIRTHDAY PRINCESS I am allowed to maintain my belief that my special day brings LUCK to ME SPECIFICALLY, okay?
This morning I found myself thinking about one of the most bolt from the blue instances of birthday luck, which took place on my 22nd birthday. I was working the brunch shift that day at an Irish pub in the East Village, which is a great capsule summary of where I was in my life. The pub was empty except for some day drinkers who were all sitting at the bar, watching a game on TV. I paced the room from one end to the other, wiping down clean tables. I rolled silverware. I looked out the window, hoping that someone would come in. One of the guys at the bar, an older gentleman, motioned me over.
He handed me a $20 and told me to go to the deli on the corner and buy him a bag of pretzels, oh and keep the change. $18 was a lot more than I'd made so far that shift ($0), but still, I had my pride, so I demurred. The bartender beckoned to me. "He owns the building. We're nice to him," he explained. I got the pretzels.
When I delivered them, I chatted with the landlord -- after all, I was incredibly bored. I asked him if he owned any other buildings in the neighborhood, and he listed a handful. My ears perked up when he said a particular address. "I used to live at [address redacted for no good reason], and I never got my security deposit back when I moved out!" Instead of saying "Tough cookies," this guy took out his checkbook and wrote me a check for the full amount of the security deposit right then and there. Happy birthday to me!
Because I was a decent human being with a strong moral center, my first move was to look up my former roommate, a girl I had never been close to and had fallen out of touch with when we'd gone our separate ways at the end of the lease. I made arrangements to meet with her and give her half of the money this guy had just given me.
Just kidding! I was a piece of shit. Doing that didn't even cross my myopically self-absorbed mind. But I did deposit the check, withdraw all the cash in 20s, and distribute them one at a time to the next 20 needy people I encountered.
Of course I didn't do that either, but I did deposit the check. The next day, having realized I had more money than I needed for my day-to-day expenses for the first time in my silly little life, I met with a financial advisor. She laughed at the paltriness of the sum and told me that I should start a savings account where I kept 3 months of living expenses at all times. Once I did that, she said, I should use any random windfalls like the one I'd just received to start building a stock portfolio. Well, I did as she told me, and after a few years, the chance I took on a little mail-order DVD-rental service called Netflix paid off -- just in time for me to buy an apartment in the Clinton Hill Coops in 2009 for under 400k, paving the way for my lifelong financial stability.
Obviously I didn't do that either. In fact, I have no idea what I did with that money -- spent it, obviously, but who knows on what. Metrocards, H&M shirts, coffees and brunches at Enid's, vodka tonics and Camel Lights, but just more of them, and maybe a few extra ones.
I haven't thought about this story in a long time and I'm trying and failing to make contact now with the past-me who made all those decisions. It's not cool to just be straightforwardly contemptuous of one's past self; for one thing, it's just too easy. But the thing about this story, which I've told many times over the years, is that it seems to me now to be less about my luck and more about my youthful selfishness and stupidity. The good news is, my life continued. I'm not 22, or even 32. Or even 39! And while luck is ... whatever it is, it's not too late to reverse my bad decision in at least one way.
Last week I said I'd answer reader questions in the free email, but I actually ended up answering the only meaty one in the paid email (whoops!) I did get two other qs, one of which was: Who would you cast in the My Year of Rest and Relaxation movie? Well, subscriber, since Margot Robbie is credited as a producer I guess that solves who will play the narrator. I still think maybe Sydney Sweeney for Reva. No ideas for Dr. Tuttle. Maybe Nicole Kidman, why the hell not. For Ping Xi, let's do Bowen Yang.
Feel free to sound off in the comments! (Jk, there aren't any. But you can always email me.)