A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. - James Dent

About X-Factor:

I was born on a hot day in July. Most children are born in hospitals these days. Some come into the world under the supervision of a midwife. Some come while their mothers relax in swirling baths. Some come in cars on the side of the road, halfway between home and the hospital. Although most respectable children are born in hospitals, it is not really a requirement. Respectable children are sometimes born in barnyards, though admittedly these ones have a harder go of it in becoming respectable.

The real requirement for all children, respectable or otherwise, is that they have parents. It's looked on as more than some social nicety. There is no entrance to acceptable society if one hasn't a proper set of parents.

It is my misfortune to have been born without them.

I came into the world in a sterile testing room, which is more respectable than a barnyard, but still can't remedy the horrible faux pas of having been born without parents. The R&D department was looking for something new. They tried a mix of grape juice infused with rosemary. They mixed an invigorating cranberry juice with extract of almond. They rubbed cocoa butter into strained avacado, then whisked it into apricot juice. But none of it was quite what they were looking for. In frustration, one of them stirred a package of generic brand Kool-aid up with a few packages of sugar. She raised the cup to her lips, getting it close enough that oil from her lip gloss smeared on the edge. If she had drank that Kool-aid, the story would have ended there. But one of the other researchers snatched it out of her hands and put it into the processor. The lip gloss must have reacted badly with something in the processor because when the process was finished, instead of a new drink, there I was, glistening with sunflower oil, standing in a cloud of reddish powder.

The woman who had mixed the Kool-aid argued a long time with the man who had put it through the processor about who would have to be responsible for this misuse of funds. In the end, the supervisor turned them both in. They were fired. The company was interested in producing beverages, not children. They had no place for me. I was put in state custody and sent to a foster family. But it was widely known that, unlike the other foster children, I had no real parents. When the other children spoke to me, which was rarely, they called me X-Factor because no one knew where I came from. It was better than admitting the truth-that I was born from a puddle of punch, without even a flash of lightning, and even the fruit drink factory had rejected me.

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