Tomorrow is the birthday of a friend. He looks pretty good for his age. He’ll be turning 187. Which makes him almost as old as Willie Nelson.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, in 1835. It was late November, and colder than a witch’s underwire. His mother was not expecting him. She wasn’t even close to being ready, so she tried to squeeze him back in. But it didn't work. So out he came.
During childlabor, Halley’s comet was passing overhead, visible from the sky. The comet was a natural phenomenon that frightened a lot of people, causing many to either pray in tongues or drink whiskey. Sam’s mother did both during childbirth.
No, not really. I’m only kidding. Although, she had reason to drink. Because Sam was a lot of trouble.
For one thing, he was sickly. Nobody thought he would make it past infancy. Three of his siblings died. Being born premature in 1830s was no cakewalk. His body was puny. His complexion made Elmer’s glue look colorful.
I first saw him, I could see no promise in him,” his mother recalled.
Even so, he was whip smart. Lightning in a jar. He could memorize things. He and he could talk the paint off a wagon wheel. And lie. Hoo boy.
Sam could lie like it was his profession. The kid was such a good liar, he received annual Christmas cards from Satan.
He got into trouble, of course. The best humans always do. Nobody changes the world by being well-behaved. History doesn’t care if you were president of your chess club or class treasurer. History favors the kids who lived in detention.
Sam was that kid. He started smoking when he was still in elementary school. He could out-cuss a grown man before he was potty trained. He skipped school so often that his teachers sent flowers to his mother and asked when the…