Today is April 20 and April 20 was the birthday of my longtime friend Bill McKechnie. We met in the army, went to Berlin together and kept in touch thereafter. His dog tags were eerily close to my own. Mine read 14-779-240. His read 14-779-051. With a gazillion guys in the army, it seemed pretty odd.
Bill is dead now, but when April 20 rolls around, well, happy birthday, Bill! Bill always thought it was pretty funny when he and Joe and I would go out and get drunk and then ride back to the barracks in Joe's red MG convertible with me declaiming French poetry at the top of my bilge-y lungs ...
Heureux, qui comme Ulysse,
A fait un beau voyage
Et puis est retourne
Plein d'usage et de raison....
April 20 was Adolf Hitler's birthday as well. I never met the man, but I've heard plenty of stories about him. I don't know if he knew any French poetry, but somehow I doubt it: Hitler seemed to make a profession out of powerful ignorance: He loved Wagner, so somehow, in my own ignorance, French poetry seems unlikely.
Funny how birthdays come only once a year and yet, on reflection, draw closer and closer like some soft noose until ... it's 6:35 a.m.