A birthday story.

Mom was making her lunch for work the next day when she felt the first contraction, so Dad ate the sandwich she prepared in the maternity ward waiting room.

There was ham and cheese, then a baby.

Tasteful nude.

The universal sign of girlhood: Definitely the plastic tote of naked Barbies, determined this weekend with the help of an incredulous guy friend.

After telling him that, between four sisters, my family boasted about 70 of the dolls of various skin tone and hook (80s Hair Barbie, Irish Heritage Barbie, just Ken), my friend  — sister-less himself — described his only experiences with the toys: He’d be playing at a friend’s house and stumble upon the sister’s ubiquitous box of half-naked, wild-haired, sometimes-limbless ladies of Mattel.

We still have one of these treasure boxes in my parents’ basement storage room. 70 dolls, countless tiny plastic high heels, maybe a few Barbie’s Favorite Ponies and Barbie’s Malibu Corvettes.

Maybe it’s a little weird that this image conjures a nostalgic, innocent grin. Because in any other context many people would think “mass grave/orgy.”

Anesthetic (hard to spell).

J had her wisdom teeth extracted this week. Afterward we swapped stories of anesthesia-induced craziness and used the word “woozy” more than is ever warranted in conversation. Her experience: After waking up from the surgery she asked the doctors for a pen and paper to write a note to her mother in the waiting room. Later, her mom had to tell her what it said: “This chair is comfortable.”

Mine was another singular experience. Counting 98-97-96-nothing until you wake up in another unfamiliar room with a bloody, swollen mouth stuffed with gauze and 20 mg of Vicodin racing through your veins. I started crying at that point anyway (actually woke up with tears already falling). The doctors were telling me to put on my jacket, but try as I might, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find my arms. Not the shirtsleeves. It was my limbs that weren’t cooperating.

Ruth + Bud + Korea.

Grandma Ruth was dating two men when she met Grandpa Bud in 1950 or ’51. He was a little angry when he found out. She was sassy, 18-years-old, and a little confused as to why this was a problem.

Thankfully — for future generations — she visited him while he sulked at his rural Indiana Army training camp, and something about the uniform, or more likely something about the man, made her forget about One and Two pretty fast.

Bud was the kind of handsome good ol’ boy with a hard jaw line and Elvis hairstyle who she could count on to be there. Every weekend he hitchhiked the 15 miles from camp to her parents house. Even that Sunday with heavy snows and fierce winds, she opened the front door to find him walking up the steps — the picture of consistency. The kind of reliability you fantasize about spending the rest of your life with.

But the uniform wasn’t a Halloween costume, and when Bud asked Ruth to marry him before leaving for the Korean conflict, she declined. Ruth was a senior in high school and the kind of girl who spent her Friday nights with friends in the back booth of the soda shop — lighting up cigarettes and giggling over shared secrets because, she says, it “made us feel up to no good.” She was not the kind to appreciate the weight/wait of an engagement ring and an absent fiancée. Ruth said no, Bud said goodbye.

Bud was sick for 14 day straight on the boat across the Pacific. Ruth stopped eating, stopped sleeping, couldn’t stop crying. She sent him a letter, one that began with something like, “So about that proposal…” He told her to find the money at his father’s house and buy herself a ring — the offer was still good. She sent him a letter a day for 11 months.

Then one Saturday, while out with friends, Ruth got a call from her mother on the phone behind the restaurant counter. He had stopped by the house. Bud was on his way to her. One of my Grandma’s friends started crying over her chocolate malt at that point because, sob, “It’s just so romantic.”

Ruth rushed out of the shop. And he was already there in the lot. And they kissed. And she still has all those letters.

Internet banking.

Before logging in to make payments and sob over my paltry account balance, the bank asks me to answer a series of shield questions designed to 1) deter identity theives, and 2) encourage users to contemplate life.

Options for these questions include:

What was the name of your high school mascot?

What is your dream job?

What was the name of your first pet?

What was the closest highway to your hometown?

Where did you go on your most memorable vacation?

What was your most memorable promotion?

What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend?

This feature not only means my checking account is on lockdown for anyone — like me — who doesn’t know my dream job (making cupcakes…or kites/hugging puppies…), it also leads to some uncomfortable recollections. Now every time I check my credit limit I’m forced to think about that awkward year T and I dated…