Trust me, I'm not someone who celebrates his birthday. Not anymore, anyway. Whatever contributions I may lay on the world, they couldn't touch the significance of those born or departed on August 16.
Usually, one's 20-Something birhdays involve, ironically, death-defying imbibement of spirituous beverages. I did the 21st birthday thing. It was a lot like my 22nd and 23rd birthdays. I'm too old for that stuff now. No, August 16, 2008 won't see Cooz with a group of well-wishers at a backyard barbeque, followed by a pre-party, shortly followed by another pre-party with a pre-bar mixed in between a quick drink with other friends before hitting up The Turf in Fargo, or Brothers in Minneapolis or The Dubliner in St. Paul.
I'm a pretty low-profile guy nowadays. I blindly reached for fortune and fame in the unlucrative and generally disliked world of sports writing, and did that for long enough to realize recognition in that profession is usually bad more than it is good. So if I want any claim-to-fame (outside of having a conversation with Shaq and his posse in an elevator at Mall of America, or letting Chris Rock use my pen at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport), it's gonna have to be through the day the Almighty let me arrive, leeching off the passing of others.
Did you know that Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth both died on my birthday? Not the same year, mind you, but still, find a bigger, more iconic pair of Americans sharing a deathday. You're not going to be able to, I promise.
There are plane crashes, coup d'etas, U.S. Representatives hitting and killing motorcyclists...all kinds of noteworthy stuff.
What's even better is today, on my birthday, we will witness Michael Phelps become the undisputed Most Dominant Athlete ever to compete. After barely edging out Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly, Phelps tied fellow American Mark Spitz's record seven gold medals in one Games. Today, on my birthday, we're going to witness Phelps become the only athlete to ever win eight gold medals in one Olympics when the U.S. will hit the wall first in the 400 medley relay.
If you want to get technical, Phelps will be on the medal stand - along with Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Jason Lezak - on Aug. 17, Beijing time (GMT +8).
I care not. My Page-a-Day calendar from 2009 and forever will have "Michael Phelps wins his record-setting eighth gold medal in Beijing in 2008" as it's event of note on Aug. 16, and I will petition to make sure this happens.
None of this Aug. 17 BS.
But what if he loses?
Phelps? Lose? He was in seventh place halfway through the first 50 meters in the 'fly. He stormed back, overcoming Cavic (and his subsequent protest over the results) and Spitz at the same time. His fellow swimmers call him "unbeatable." He was part of the U.S. 400 free relay team that upset the mighty French team just five days ago.
If it's not my destiny to be anyone famous or even of note, then it's that my birthday will be one of the impactful rotations of the sun our history knows. Phelps knows this. It's the birthdate of Madonna, Steve Carrell and the Olympics' version of Rocky, Rulon Gardner, and the deathdate of sociopathic dictator Idi Amin and blues legend Robert Johnson.
From one realm of the world to another, good or bad, all of these people are about as famous as it gets. Phelps' accomplishment, in regards to this date, will easily trump all of them. Phelps, a Ravens fan, of all things, will be the first person mentioned on a date that saw two super-humans - Ruth and Elvis - prove their mortality (Ruth was from Baltimore, like Phelps...I was born in Annapolis).
There was little chance of the passing of these two legends ever making top-of-the-fold news on this date from 2009 and beyond, let alone me.
Phelps, Peirsol, Hansen and Lezak will do it. It will be recognized on Aug. 16.
Now, what the h3ll am I gonna have to do to get some acclaim from the rest of the world?