I actually heard the latter half of this story on Thanksgiving, but at the time I think I'd just written my 600th family-centric post, deciding instead to stick it in my back pocket with the other gum wrappers and save it for later.
Ever since I was old enough to reminisce, I knew I'd been blessed by Mother Teresa. My mom had the opportunity to meet her when I was in utero, and as legend has it, she touched her growing stomach and made some wise crack about my future as a Missionary of Charity (a detail I usually leave out when telling this story because it leaves me no room to question my vocation or overall purpose in life - if Mother Teresa provides you with one, you're kind of obligated to follow up. Ah well...). So, since I probably had gills and no finger nails at the time of our meeting, I obviously do not remember this. That being said, it's a nice thought to carry around and pull out every time a bad day rolls around. You got the last seat on the bus? I've been blessed by Mother Teresa. Sub-zero temperatures? Eat poo, Mother Nature. I've been blessed by Mother Teresa. Anyway, for the past 26 years or so, I've had that to fall back on when everything else seems quietly out of line.
Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. Sitting at the end of a long table with my aunt, uncle, mom and brother. Conversation makes its usual turn to talk of McDonald's franchises in somewhat unsavory areas of St. Louis. Standard banter. And then suddenly, I'm blindsided with a story I've never heard before. During that same bout of gestation, my mom and dad were grabbing dinner at a McDonald's near their apartment in the city when they were approached by a mentally unstable and possibly homeless woman. She could've asked for money or a French fry, but instead she chose to curse my mom's stomach. To curse me, an unassuming, downy quasi-human who had, so far, done nothing to harm anyone else. Apparently she made my mom cry and blah blah blah, the point being I had just nine months to make it through unscathed. To grow vital organs and eat through my stomach. But in those nine months, I managed to acquire a blessing from one of the most revered humanitarians in history and a curse from some lady who probably collects Bartles & Jaymes bottles filled with eyelashes.
As a result, so I've surmised, I'm destined to be mediocre. It's the ying and the yang of good deeds and value meals, and I am the result. Hovering gently in the middle. If I'd never heard the second part of my fetal journey, I would've continued to believe that I'm some sort of female Emperor of the Sun, called upon to shoulder the burden of holy greatness. It's probably better this way, as I can now reconcile my newly realistic obligations as a human being, my unnatural love of sweet & sour sauce packets, and the faint memory of a wrinkled Nobel Peace Prize-winning hand seen through small, developing eyes.