Morning Word Day 1: A Rocky Birthday

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He was in a comfort zone. His birthday followed the same rousing schedule. He would invite everyone he knew. His friends would pour beer down his gullet until his gullet burned. They would hit on pretty girls. They would steal a street sign and urinate in the road.

But he wanted something. Something new.  He was turning 31 and after a decade of this, he found himself unable to remember anything specific about past birthdays. Even worse, his post party recovery was becoming so bad that he seriously considered not partying at all. His bones would ache and his tongue would swell. Last year, he took himself to the hospital after his hangover extended into day three. But no, he wouldn’t give in to age. The proper solution was to party harder and make it even more memorable. So he read the phone number off a scrap of paper and called Sylvester Stallone.

This was an unfamiliar situation. Would Stallone remember that day? Would Stallone remember being pushed out of the way of that car? Would Stallone remember giving him the phone number and saying, ‘If you ever want to change your life, give me a call’? It felt like a minute between each ring. It seemed like Stallone wouldn’t pick up. That would be best, perhaps.

But he had to adapt because Stallone did pick up. He stammered and stuttered. He reminded Stallone of that day, exiting the gym, nose stuck in a newspaper. The car! The squeal! The shove! And of course the promise of a changed life. ‘I meant something like, helping you work out. Build your confidence.’

He got what he wanted and Stallone agreed to come. Word spread and that night, his house was crammed with family, friends, strangers and movie nerds all eager to share a drink with the Italian Stallion. And everyone got what they wanted from him, stories about making Rocky and being put into headlocks for photos. Everyone drank more than ever.

But he paid a heavy price. When he awoke bleary eyed the next afternoon, he could hardly remember a thing. He called his friends to hear the reviews and each one went on about Stallone being so down to earth. And each of them said, sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk more. He used his one and only life changing promise from Stallone for what? Another party.

He returned to a familiar situation: the morning after, a quiet house, sticky floors, dirty dishes. As he washed out all the glasses, he felt his bones ache and his tongue swell. He lay on the couch with the television on mute, eyes closed, and tried not to throw up. He knew this one would take a few days to work through his body.

He was changed. Or we would be. He sifted through the disaster that was his living room and found the scrap of newspaper. He called the number. It rang long again. Stallone was very kind and agreed to meet him at the gym in an hour. He threw some shorts into a bag and walked out into the bright sun. Next door an older man pushed his gnarling mower. A woman jogged by with two babies in a buggy. And he threw up in the bushes. But then he walked to the gym.