August 11, 1980: David Kreutz is born.
August 11, 1999: The last total solar eclipse of the 20th century is visible across Eurasia. The end of the partial portion of the eclipse is visible from northeastern North America at sunrise. (Map here.)
Brendan Loy, who will not meet Birthday Boy Kreutz for another 14 days, has nevertheless had August 11 marked on his calendar for weeks, because of the eclipse. Brendan has convinced his best friend, Jen Persaud, to get up in the wee hours of the morning and drive him two hours east to Point Judith, Rhode Island, with the intention of getting a better view of the sunrise eclipse (because Point Judith is an east-facing beach, and because the sunrise is almost five minutes earlier there than in central Connecticut, meaning a 69% maximum eclipse instead of 61%).
Brendan and Jen press ahead with this plan — solar filters, camera, camcorder, food, drink and stuffed animals in tow — despite the fact that it is overcast; they hope the clouds on the eastern horizon will clear before sunrise. This does not occur. Brendan and Jen do not see the eclipse, and their doomed attempt is memorialized in story and song (well, story, anyway) as “the cloudy eclipse.” Jen never lets Brendan forget it. :)
August 11, 2000: The world does not end, despite a National Enquirer prediction several weeks earlier that it would do so on this date.
August 11, 2001-2005: Because it coincides with the anniversaries of the cloudy eclipse and the aborted apocalypse, Brendan, who typically either does not know or does not remember his friends’ birthdays, never forgets David’s birthday. :)