Benny Jay: Birth Certificate Blues

January 5th, 2011

Get a mid-day call from Stefanie — who works with me on the day job. She says she needs a copy of my social security card….

Long story. Bottom line — the company needs proof that I am who I am as opposed to someone else….

I head over to the trusty, old file cabinet only to discover that my social security card’s not there….

I mean, I’m going through file after file. Wind up reading some old poems I wrote years ago.

Please, anybody, if by chance you should read these poems, don’t hold them against me.  I was young. Naive. In love with this girl named — oh, save that story for another day….

Here’s the real frustrating part of the deal. As you know, I’ve been clearing out my room so I can find stuff when I need to and yet when I finally go to find something I can’t find it.

Story of my life….

President Obama and I have a similar problem….

I go back to Stefanie who directs me to Amanda, who’s as nice as she can be. She tells me can’t find your Social Security card? No problem, send us your birth certificate.

Pause. I know I must have received a birth certificate at one time or another what with being born and all. But who knows where it is….

Not knowing what else to do, I call my parents….

My dad answers the phone.

“I need to find my birth certificate,” I tell him.

“Are you having Obama’s troubles?” he cracks.

Though I’m not really in the mood for laughs, I must concede it’s a pretty good line. That’s the thing about my dad — when you least expect it, he gets off a good one….

My mom comes on the phone.

“I need my birth certificate,” I say.

“What?” she says.

“My birth certificate — I need it….”


“Long story….”

“Hold on….”

I hear her yelling at my father, who must be in the other room: “Do we have Benny’s birth certificate?”

I hear him yell back: “What?”

Lesson for the day — don’t carry on a conversation from different rooms.

“I’ll call you back,” she says.

Two hours pass. I call her back.

“What an ordeal,” she says. “Your father and I are exhausted…..”

“What happened?”

It’s a long story. They figured the birth certificate was in a drawer at the bottom of a file cabinet. But the drawer was stuck. My father grabbed the handle, pulled with all of his might, and….

“The handle ripped off,” says my mom

“Oh, no!” I gasp.

He fell backwards and hit his head on the sofa. “Can you believe your father hit his head on the sofa?” says my mom.

Everybody loves the Big Red Head — Brian Scalabrine….

I can’t talk. I’m overwhelmed with guilt. Only in my family does a guy set out to find a birth certificate and wind up with a near concussion….

“He’s okay, though,” says my mom.

In fact, he managed to wedge open the drawer with a screw driver and a hammer and there  — lo and behold — was the birth certificate.

Later that night, I drive over to retrieve it. My parents take me to the file cabinet and recreate the scene, showing me where he fell and where he hit his head. I’m telling you, Sir Hillary didn’t go through half this shit climbing  Mt. Everest….

They give me the certificate. It’s got a drawing of the hospital and a baby in a crib with the sun rising behind him, like it’s the dawn of life.

Says I was born at 9:16 in the morning. Always an early riser. Well, early for me, anyway.

On the way home I listen to the Bulls post game. Blow out win against Toronto. My man Scalabrine even got to play. Scored a basket and everything. Turning out to be a great night!

When I get home, I stash the birth certificate in my file cabinet safe and sound.

Happy ending to a long story. The good thing about good parents: No matter how old you or they may be — they’re there when you need them….

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