January 5, 2004

Virginia may be for lovers but it is not for hell-raisers

* Recent essay on Virginia, purportedly written by David Berman:


"I was born in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967, exactly 360 years after the first British colony in North America was founded, down the road, at Jamestown. In mathematics 360 degrees is regarded as a return to zero. A flipping of the odometer as it were.

In 1967 my father was a waiter at the King's Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. The employees wore period dress. Because he was just off work when my mother finished labor, the nurses handed me over to a man wearing knee breeches, buckled shoes and a tri-cornered hat.

I was an unwitting solipsist as a child. I believed that God had left clues embedded in the world for me to interpret and make use of.

Once I discovered the secret of the 360 years I had to wonder what He was trying to tell me. That I would be a witness to (pardon the stupid name) America II? Or (as I secretly hoped) that I would be a leader, a general, a statesman, in that new era?"

"After graduation I left Virginia, no longer believing in the secret of the 360 years.

It was soon after, on a Christmas visit to my mother's home in Central Ohio, that I discovered how I was nearly never born. I was rifling through her personal files while she was at the mall when I discovered a letter from the public relations department of a spermicidal jelly company, addressed to my mother and dated four months before I was born. They had received her complaint letter and were sorry that the product had not protected her from impregnation. Finally they reminded her that no contraceptive was 100% effective and hoped that she would continue to use their jelly in the future.

Needless to say, this blew my mind."


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