Because I am constantly complaining about the state of the nation, people often ask why I haven’t yet made a bid for the White House. Of course, I would love to serve as president of the United States. Problem is, I’m unelectable, thanks entirely to a substandard birth certificate. The folks at FOX News would have a field day with said document, which doesn’t even have my name on it. All it says is that on April 6, 1943, my mother gave birth to a “baby boy.”
A few days later the Salt Lake Tribune noted that my parents had given birth to “a son.” I presume that in those days newspapers withheld the names of newborns, pending notification of next-of-kin. But still, for the sake of clarity, shouldn’t I have been assigned a name at the hospital? Did babies wear wristbands in those days, or was the maternity ward more like a mix ‘n’ match rummage sale?
What I do know is that my mother was hoping for a girl. She’d already given birth to two sons, so why have a third? And in those days—before the advent of ultrasound—mothers didn’t know what was coming until it came. Lucky for me, I suppose.
So I’m guessing that Mom didn’t want to jinx things by deciding early on what she would name me should I turn out to be still another (groan!) son. And so she left that line blank, and evidently it was still blank the day they took me home.
Recently I was rummaging through a box of family stuff and came upon my baby book. Guess what? It’s pink! I presume it was a baby shower gift and still another example of wishful thinking on somebody’s part. Inside is an inscription, dated April 19th. “To ‘baby boy’ Menzies.”
So thirteen days after I was born, I STILL hadn’t been given a name! What were they waiting for?
“We really wanted to name you Douglas,” my mother once explained. “But then your Aunt Lila had a baby boy and they named him Douglas. We were quite upset.”
I kind of like the name Douglas, and I’ve vaguely resented the fact I didn’t get it because it was snatched away by an inconsiderate relative. In fact, I broached the subject recently at my Aunt Lois’s funeral, at which my alter ego cousin Douglas Gardner was present.
“You know, Doug,” I said, “if not for you, I’d be answering to the name Douglas. I might even have had a chance to become president of the United States.”
“What are you talking about?” said Douglas. “I was born two months after you were.”