Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Valentine's Day Curse

It seems a little ironic that after what was undoubtedly the single worst month of my life (good riddance January), that I have to endure my least favorite holiday of the year. I've always hated Valentine's Day, and it's not because I've never had a serious girlfriend - or as I like to refer to it: I've never had a significant, significant other. It's because for whatever reason, I've had an unprecedented run on bad luck on this specific day, and bad things have always managed to happen to me. Cupid is not my friend - and one day I'd like to confront him and find out why he insists on making things so difficult for me on Valentine's Day. One of the great things I do have going for me however is I have an outstanding long term memory. The good Lord has blessed me with an exceptional ability to recall memories from my past with vivid detail and clarity. I see it only fit as we embark (great word) on "The day of love" that we recant some of my past experiences on a day that has shown no love for Jonny Nitro. Here is my history of February 14:

February 14th, 1997:
I was in 5th grade, and today was supposed to be a good day, because today was the annual Middle School trip to Skateland. Skateland was the cat's ass back in the day - whenever you have a combination of rollerblading, junk food, and arcade games, you couldn't go wrong. But somehow I did manage to go wrong, because this specific event was the day I officially started having a drinking problem. My drink of choice: All Sport. After consuming about 3 bottles too many, I commenced puking in the bathroom, and it in turn put me on the shelf for 2 days afterwards. This subsequently forced me to miss my traveling basketball tournament the same weekend. My violation of the substance abuse policy was played off by mom covering for me and simply telling the coach that I had been feeling ill. I do however feel that what happened to me on this day led to the demise of All Sport, and what ultimately made it the Chumbawamba of sports drinks.

February 14th, 1999:
I have never been a good skier. I do consider myself to be a decent athlete, but definitely not an exceptional one. But at the same time, I've always lived by the credo that "if it's a sport that doesn't involve shoes being on my feet, I cannot excel at it." Skiing is no exception, and this made me a little skeptical to partake (great word) on another Middle School field trip - this time around at Andes Tower Hills in Alexandria, MN. My apprehension had somewhat subsided after mastering the Bunny Hill, and I proceeded to shuffle on over to the Chairlift for some more exhilarating action. I should of quit while I was ahead when I successfully made the transition from the chair to the top of hill (which wasn't an easy task), but instead to decided to ski down anyway.

Now for those of you who are green the slope atmosphere, there are several different paths you can take once you get off the chairlift. Those paths are represented by colors, an unbeknownst to 7th grade me, those colors also represent level of difficulty. I probably would've had a little better judgment if I was with friends, but I was the last one to get my skis, and I didn't know where the hell they were. I do have to say that the Black one didn't look so bad initially, and I coasted along pretty good for about 30 feet. But the 30 foot distance was also ironically where my skis and poles last left me and I proceeded to tumble down twice the distance. I believe in the business they call that a "yard sale." A couple of older guys stopped to check on me, probably concerned that I was dead, but in actuality I was more embarrassed than hurt. I got up and walked down the rest of the hill - that was the end of my day, one and done. I scraped my face up pretty badly, and it ended up taking over a month to heal. If you look at my birthday pictures from that year (my birthday's in March by the way), it still looks as if I'd been mauled by a bear. I had to be subjected to answering "what happened to your face?" questions for a significant amount of time.

February 14th, 2002:
That little credo about shoes not being on my feet was just as prevalent this year as it was in the 7th grade ski disaster. This time around I was in Phy Ed class, and we had just started our ice skating unit. I'm about as graceful as a cow on ice. I've never been able to do a hockey stop, and often use the boards for stopping purposes. One of the main goals of a drill that we worked on in class was to enhance your ability to transfer from forward skating to backward skating. On my first attempt at the drill, I made my transition on a very slippery spot of the ice, and in a split second - WHAM! It felt like somebody had pulled the rug right underneath me, and I fell face first onto the ice. Now I've only been temporarily knocked out twice in my life: This incident and the other was pictured on the front of the sports page when I was a Senior in high school. I found it somewhat humorous that what was intended to be my shining moment, was portrayed as just the opposite (I would however like to mention that as bad as it looked, Cambridge's ball carrier #46 Garrett Anderson still went down!)

I heard some laughs at first, which is expected because nothing is funnier than someone slipping on ice, but those laughs were soon drowned out when I stood up with my face in a bloody mess. I felt my tongue around the top row of my teeth and noticed there was a vacancy, where my front tooth last was. I was at the dentist for the next 2 hours as he worked on re-attaching my severed tooth. To his credit, he did a great job because you can only tell it's been repaired from a very short distance. But because of what happened, I was forced to eat nothing but yogurt and applesauce for the rest of the week - Cupid strikes again. I have returned to realm of skiing since my accident, but never will I ever put on another pair of skates. In the modified words of Jerry Seinfeld: "I choose not to skate."

February 14th, 2004
It's funny how even some of the best memories you've ever had in your life still seem to be a little foggy, and you can't quite recall every detail. But the worst days you've ever had are unforgettable, and there's not a single component of that day that you can't remember. This was one of those days - the day I crashed my second car. Yes that's right my second car, wanna hear about my first?.....Ok fine I'll tell you. When I turned 16 my parents bought me my first car - a 1988 Honda Accord. It was a beauty, and it was honestly in great condition. Although it was 14 years old it only had 70,000 miles on it. The previous owner lived down the street from us, her name was Claudia and coincidentally since her name had 7 seven letters, she had it posted on her license plate as well. It's a two week process to get new plates, so I received some strange looks on the drive to school with a license plate that had "CLAUDIA" on it. Long story short, I got rear-ended by a guy that I used to play basketball with on a gravel road after we were shooting off fireworks (not what the police report says). Claudia had the car for 14 years, I had it for four months and totaled the shit out of it - I still think to this day she is upset with me.

But the good thing about this situation is
that this accident wasn't my fault, the second car however...different story. As I stated earlier, your worst memories are always the most crystal clear. The time was roughly 11:00 am, I was driving on Westmoor Drive near Village Green golf course, and Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" was playing on the radio. Now to understand this story you need two little pieces of background information: #1 - I drove a Ford Focus for the majority of high school (is that funny...then stop laughing), #2 - My car doesn't have anti-lock brakes and is the absolute worst road vehicle during the winter - it's kind of like trying to steer an air hockey puck. I was coming around the curve, turning onto 30th Avenue. The only problem being is that when I turned the wheel, the car didn't turn with me, and I proceeded to go right into the curb at an angle. I'd tried putting the Focus in "R," then I tried putting it in "D," but the car just wouldn't budge - something was wrong. As I got out of the car I noticed that the front right wheel was pushed out of alignment, and the axle was visibly snapped underneath the vehicle.

So let's assess the situation: Here's a guy with a car that wont move, positioned in an area that's miles away from his house, in the middle of winter, who is currently living in the pre-cell phone era - I am the absolute definition of totally screwed. I can't think of too many times in my life where I've said to myself, "I don't what I would of done if that person would not of been there." Joe Emmerich I don't know where you are, but you saved me big time that day. He just happened to be driving his ugly purple Aztec down that same road. I didn't know him very well, but I knew him well enough for him to kindly give me a ride to my house so I could call a towing company. As you could assume, the old man wasn't too thrilled with me and informed me that I'd be working in the summer to pay it off - $1,200 later, which probably took me until mid-July, we were even. And that young grasshoppers is what I like to call: "Learning the hard way." But more than anything, this experience reminded me that Valentine's Day absolutely sucks.

To my recollection, that was the last of my disastrous February 14 stories, but there is something that's always bound to happen on this specific day that bothers me more than anything else. Ever since high school, and subsequently each year after that, this is the day where that girl from class, or that girl down the street, that I'm not interested in whatsoever tries to seize the day. It's usually in the form of a creepy letter, or a creepy Facebook message, or it one particular incident in high school a voice mail on our home phone which prompted my mother to call the police. I spent the afternoon being interrogated by a couple of officers in our living room - another Valentine's Day well spent. I can't remember the last time this hasn't happened. I'm not looking forward to added distraction of trying to avoid another person for the next couple of weeks.

In closing, I would like to say that I will be unreachable on the 14th of February. I won't be answering phone calls, and probably not even e-mails. I have two classes on that day, and once those are over I'm heading straight home and staying in the closed confines of my own apartment. This is the year in Red Sox fashion where I reverse the curse, because nothing bad can happen to me if I don't do anything......right??