Here's a picture of me, my father and my mother 30 years ago today. I'm the one wearing a blanket. As you can see, the nurses are all standing around. A few minutes after the picture was taken, the head nurse spoke up and she said "Leave this one alone." She could tell right away that I was...
No, wait. That's not me at all.
I was still trouble, though. My mother kept the hospital bill; it cost $147 to take me home. When I set things on fire as a child, when I got suspended from school for fighting, when I totaled my father's car, when I drove my truck into the garage wall, when I called from Spain and begged for money, when I moved into their basement, do you think they felt they were getting their $147's worth?
Eilís asked me about this photo; it was taken for the Austin American-Statesman as part of a feature piece they did about what-were-then-modern birthing techniques. As a result, we have all sorts of professional-quality photos of my birth -- most of them with my mother looking hell-fire unhappy. Strangely, one of my favorites is a picture of the doctor after the surgery. He is sitting alone on a standard-issue hospital chair and is holding himself in an exhausted sort of way that suggests my showing up interrupted his recovering from a hangover.
An interesting thing to note about the newborn in this picture, though: that baby looks nothing like me. My mother says that when I was very young I had red hair, yet somehow I've grown up to have light brown hair. I think perhaps the real Chris Cope wandered off at some point, and my dad, in comedy sitcom style, ran to the nearest orphanage and picked out a replacement. He probably painted my hair red for a while, too.