Last night, at midnight, Sarah asked me to tell a story about the day she was born. We were in the kitchen — along with Matt and Aaron.
So I told her the story:
Alicia’s contractions began on the morning of September 26, 1982. We were good Lamaze students, so we knew not to rush to the hospital, but to call the doctor and wait until they were x number of minutes apart. I can’t remember exactly how many minutes.
We went to T&F Barbecue for breakfast. I remember seeing Charles and Norma Goldman there. Two tables of Jews in a barbecue restaurant on the eve of Yom Kippur.
As we waited for our eggs and toast, I remember her taking a few cleansing breaths and saying something like “That was a strong one.”
And I replied, “They’re five minutes apart.”
And I remember somebody in the next booth giving us quite a look. Sort of a “why-the-hell-aren’t-you-rushing-to-the-hospital” look.
That was before children. We were pretty calm back then. In fact, at that point in my life, I did yoga every single day. Then, after we had children, my practice was extremely sporadic for twenty-five years and I was a nervous wreck. Now that they’re all basically grown, the daily yoga habit is back again.
Alicia was all packed. I had packed a bag lunch. So we had breakfast, and later that afternoon went to the hospital.
When Dr. Parada entered the room, he remarked on the unfairness of me eating an apple while Alicia was laboring. He told me he had just had a nice lunch with his whole family. I smelled wine. Then he told me this joke:
“A southerner was a freshman at Harvard and asked somebody ‘Where’s the library at?'”
“Son, this is Harvard. The sooner you learn not to end a sentence with a preposition, the better off you’ll be.”
“Excuse me. Where’s the library at, Asshole?”
Then he delivered Sarah.
When she was born, Dr. Parada told us she was a girl.
I guess I was sort of hoping for a boy — the family name and all that — and he saw this on my face.
“These are the best kind,” he said.
This happened at 7pm. A mile away, at our Temple, Kol Nidre had just begun.
Kol Nidre is a moving, melodic prayer that introduces the observance of Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion’s most sacred day.
All of my children have some connection to holidays. Two years later, on Bastille Day, Aaron would be born. Ten years later, on Rosh Hashanna, Emma would be born.
But Sarah certainly wins the day when it comes to holiday births. Yom Kippur, during Kol Nidre, is a particularly special moment.
The next day, my first day of fatherhood, I didn’t go to services, but I did fast. The next evening, I went to temple for the very end of Yom Kippur, in order to accept all the kind congratulations and eat some great food at the break fast. Ben Shapiro gave me a little glass of Schnapps to break the fast and toast the birth of Sarah.
And thus is the story — a brief recounting — of that special day.