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Topher Payne: Discovering a gift from my Mama, two decades later

Playwright and writer Topher PayneJesus and I celebrate our birthdays 12 days apart, which bugged the heck out of me as a child. My sister’s birthday hit in September, unfettered by other distractions. Me, not so much.

I got presents wrapped in Christmas paper. There’d be a card attached that read, “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday,” which would have been fine if it was a car or something, but a Magic 8 Ball simply cannot be called two gifts. And then, around age 10, my mother got the bright idea to combine my birthday party with my friend Alex, because his birthday was at the beginning of the month, and “everyone gets so busy around the holidays.”

It was hard enough being the opening act for Jesus. Now I’d been demoted to playing on a double-bill. I felt like an aging cabaret star, slowly losing all the choice timeslots. I hadn’t even hit puberty, and I was already turning into a late-career Ann Jillian. “Who’s Ann Jillian?” you ask, proving my point.

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Topher Payne: The story of our settlement and first Thanksgiving

Playwright and writer Topher PayneFour years ago this week, Preppy and I closed on our house. Two days later, someone broke in, trashed the place, and made off with a good portion of our electronics.

At the time, we blamed hooligans, but seeing as we never had trouble with the criminal element in the years that followed, I have decided that the real culprit was probably our 60 year-old schizophrenic neighbor, Crazypants. She was just trying to scare us off, like an old coot on Scooby Doo trying to make everybody think the amusement park is haunted.

We were still a little shaken from the experience the following week, so I decided we needed an event on which to focus that would give us happy home memories as quickly as possible. I announced we would be hosting an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving.