I was born on December 27th. As those born on that same day can attest, we do not receive birthday presents.
We, the wretched luckless, do no not receive presents because, as most of you know, December 27th is also Gerard Depardieu’s birthday. Six months ago, I started writing the French acting legend letters informing him that he ruined my childhood…
Dear Mr. Depardieu,
For most children the holidays are a joyous time of year. I, however, was born on December 27, 1975—twenty-seven years to the day after the curtains were first raised on your own existence, and only a short thirteen months after your breakout performance in Bertrand Blier’s Going Places. In life it is generally agreed that timing is everything. Timing, as you can see, has cast me in the unrelenting, unyielding, unpitying shadow of Gerard Depardieu.
I am not alone. I am only one of thousands who has been subjected to the annual pain of that well-known holiday cost-cutting tactic employed against children by their parents. The scene is the same the world over. You are handed a single carefully wrapped present and casually told: “This is your present for your birthday and Gerard Depardieu’s birthday.”
For me (I mentioned others born on December 27th out of a much-needed sense of solidarity, but I do consider my situation to be unique and particularly traumatizing), the injustices did not end there. With my sister’s birthday safely in April she has received twice the presents that I have throughout our lives. Add this to the fact that my parents always take her side and that, despite being a year my junior, she is now a homeowner while I still use a flip phone, and you can picture a developmentally stunting home life out from which few could climb.
It seems to me that the only fair way for this situation to be resolved, and I want you to know I’ve toiled over the details of this, is for you to reimburse me for the thirty-six birthday presents you have cost me. You may notice, and I count this as evidence of my pure motives, that thirty-six is a strictly symbolic number. If you consider all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, and girlfriends who, thanks to you, repeatedly gypped me, you owe me an incalculable number of presents. But I am not in search of a windfall. I only desire closure and the ability to move on with my life.
As this is the ninth letter I have written you, I’m beginning to suspect that we stand divided on where your moral responsibilities lie. You’re forcing my hand here, Depardieu. I may not have put things strenuously enough in my first eight letters (although it seems to me that a person as perceptive as a piece of French oak probably starts to sense a man means business around letter five or six). So let me put it plainly—I want those presents! I’m serious. If you think I’m bluffing, allow me to quote the immortal words uttered by Marquis De Sade during a little revolution you may remember: Try me.
I live at 128 North Farview Avenue, Paramus, New Jersey, also known as my parents’ house. A 1950s-style Cape Cod. I’m still there as a result of dropping out of college, mishandling a few credit cards, and being such an emotional wreck over this birthday-present business. Mail my presents there. Make sure to address the packages to me or else, as sure as I’m unemployed, my parents will open them, give them to my sister, and then we’re back where we started.
That’s all for now. Bidding you a Happy Holidays would seem beside the point.
—JAMES SCOTT PATTERSON