Michael J. Mooney's a good one. I remember liking this GQ story he did a couple of years ago:
He said he didn't really know what day he was born. His parents were both dead before he turned 5, he said, and he'd never celebrated a birthday in his life. But Jerry Joseph's birth certificate read January 1, so on New Year's Day 2010, his family gathered around him. It would be a new year, a new decade, a celebration of Jerry's brand-new life. There were flimsy cardboard hats and streamers and wrapped gifts. Jerry, who at six feet five and 220 pounds was several inches taller than anyone else in his adoptive family, was presented a white cake adorned with candles in the shape of a 1 and a 6.
Danny Wright, the 50-year-old basketball coach who had taken Jerry in a few months before, noticed the kid get misty-eyed, just as he had at his first Christmas a week earlier. When his wife saw Jerry crying, she too was moved to tears. Wright stood by as his five children, none of them his own biologically, surrounded their new brother. The youngest, a 2-year-old adopted girl named Ariana, crawled into Jerry's giant arms. They sang the boy a song, told him to make a wish. It's a moment Wright keeps coming back to, when Jerry closed his bright brown eyes. What could the boy have wished for? he wonders. Basketball glory, maybe, and untold riches in the pros. But if Wright had to guess, he'd say Jerry offered a more solemn prayer: that if this life somehow turned out to be a dream, he'd never feel a pinch—that he'd never wake up in another world.