Gloom, despair and agony on me,
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery,
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,
Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
– From the TV show “Hee-Haw”
I’ve always been one of those people who walk around in a bad luck bubble. If something was going to happen, it would happen to me. In fact, that’s my motto.
If there was a food fight in the cafeteria at school, I was always caught in the crossfire. When it’s finally my turn at the ATM, the “CLOSED” sign comes on. When I get to the doctor’s office, they can’t find me on their schedule. I once found the top of my hosts’ Tupperware salt shaker in my forkful of potato salad. True story.
Restaurants are especially fun. Either they’re out of what I order, or I get extra onions when I order none. One time the server brought my food, and just as she reached to place it in front of me, she stumbled and my food ended up on the floor. Or how about the time when my extended family was out to dinner and for whatever reason, my order was never put in at the kitchen? First the staff tried to tell me it would be out ‘in a minute,’ but after the second or third round, they finally asked me what I had ordered because they had lost it. Of course, everyone else at the table had eaten and their dishes had been cleared off the table. The server brought me a dessert for my trouble. I just had him box it up with my meal, because there was no time to eat it.
What about when I wanted to treat my parents on their anniversary at the restaurant of their choice? The staff spilled my mother’s dinner in her lap, gave my father food that was too tough to chew, and made it a miserable time. My mother said, ‘Remind me not to go out to dinner with you.’ With a wink and a grin.
Oh and there’s the family’s perennial favorite, the story that may be your only chance to say “mouth” and “bird poop” in the same sentence. But that’s not even the worst. And by ‘worst,’ I mean ‘strangest,’ because bad luck is so frequent with me that something has to be unusual to stand out.
Many years ago, I went to a croquet party where the guests dressed in white and brought champagne to deposit in a sink filled with ice. The croquet tournament would start later. It was a lovely day, and I was having a terrific time. My friend, the hostess, came over to the sink and chose a fresh bottle to open. She stood and chatted with me while she tore off the foil and removed the wire cage from the cork. And then, as she had done countless times before, she began twisting and pushing the cork from the bottle. At that point, the wet bottle slipped from her hands and landed with a clunk on the concrete, leaving her with the cork.
I didn’t know what hit me. I felt as if I’d been punched in the face, hard. I reeled back, gasping for air with a face full of bubbles. I was choking on the foam in my mouth and nose, and my eyes burned from it. She picked up the bottle as soon as she dropped it, but by then, it was nearly empty – the rest of it was on me. It soaked my hair and clothing, leaving me a sticky, stinky, gasping mess. I wasn’t even sure if my contact lenses were still intact. (They were.)
The incident attracted everyone’s attention, and laughter was replaced by concern as people found out what had happened. The party stopped. Soon I was surrounded and being led to a chair. The rest of the afternoon is a blur. My head pounded for days afterward.
Did you know that the pressure in a champagne bottle is between 4 and 6 atmospheres (about 60-90 psi)? I’d just gone a round with a real slugger! In the old days of hand-blown bottles, explosions were commonplace.
A similar thing happened a few years later, only the bottle didn’t drop; the person opening it wasn’t holding it in a safe direction and I got champagne-faced again. I still get a flash of memory when I drink champagne; it is embedded in my olfactory system. But these days, I politely excuse myself to the next room when corks are being pulled.
(photo credit Anahi Temporelli)