Does The Van Man have a birthday? It was a good question. Thirty-five years. He felt nothing. There was no happy, no sad. Not clear, not confused. And who cared? What was important was the thing. And the thing, for that moment, was the show.
The birthday brought a missed phone call from his old man, The Hustler. And another from his mother. Van Momma kept it simple and sweet with a message that included an off-key rendition of the Birthday Song. His father's message was shorter and to the point. "Alright boy, you're thirty-five. Call me." So Van Man called.
"Hello?", grumbled the Father.
"Damn, boy...I was sound asleep"
"I mean, I was sound asleep. Dreamin' and everything"
"Oh sorry about that", replied Van Man, apologetically.
"What's up?", the Father asked with a cough.
"Just giving you a call back"
"Oh yeah. Thirty-five, huh?"
"Time flies, boy"
"Yeah...what were you doing at thirty-five?"
"Me? I was...well, I was living with this girl and dating your mom", said the Father as he laughed victoriously.
"Yeah", replied Van Man.
"Well, maybe the next thirty-five will be better"
"Yeah, we'll see"
Van Man finished the call and prepared himself for the rehearsal. He thought about his father's words as the van drove into the north valley, a birthday card in the passenger seat. Suicide bombers in Brussels marked the day. People dead and in grief, half a world away. What did his birthday mean? Not much in the grand scheme. Just another day of misery for some. And questions for others. He opened the card. It was from his mother. He read the last line. "I am very proud of the man you've grown up to be, listening to your inner voice". His eyes became wet and he drove on. The Van Man had an answer. And that was enough.