Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If it wasn't meant to be, it will be -- maybe

Published Oct. 22, 2007

The couple in front of me on the plane were agitated.
“Where are they?” the wife asked her husband as she craned her neck to see the front of the plane.
“They were right behind us in customs,” her husband said as he looked out the window.
They had apparently lost the adult children who were supposed to be flying with them. After some frantic negotiations, most of which I couldn’t hear, the husband decided he would get off the plane, find their kids and take a later flight. The wife would stay on the plane with their baggage.
As the husband walked toward the front of the plane, I was momentarily panic-stricken.
I guess we all have our own rationale as to how those big heavy airliners filled with 300 people get and stay aloft.
Well, my rationale is that all of the people on my plane are destined to be flying on that particular flight, on that particular day. It is that combination of lifelines that fate will fly safely to its destination.
And now one of those lifelines was getting off the plane.
When I said momentary sense of panic, I meant it. Rational thought came back and I realized how ridiculous I was being.
Or was I?
In that case, yes, because obviously I got home safely.
But what about the destiny I interjected myself into when I made my only trip to Jacobs Field for the American League Championship Series. You guessed it. I was there Thursday for the home field shelling that sent the Indians back to Boston for Game 6. And you know what happened there.
Did I bring them bad luck? They won the first two at home when I wasn’t in the stands. Am I the curse of the Indians?
A couple of my friends thought so.
“You are not going to any of the World Series games,” a co-worker — who had been in the Jacobs Field stands for a couple of playoff wins — said.
She didn’t have to tell me. I already had decided I wasn’t going anywhere near downtown Cleveland if the Indians got to the World Series.
But even if my karma wasn’t bad enough to do in the Indians, could it have been a collective Chronicle whammy?
Did the column written by sportswriter Scott Petrak that was posted on the Red Sox door before Thursday’s game have anything to do with the Tribe’s undoing?
The column read, in part, “This Indians team is better than the Red Sox and will prove it once and for all in cramped Fenway Park. Sure, a home-field celebration would’ve been nice, but silencing Red Sox Nation in its house will be just as sweet.”
Could that have fired up those Red Sox enough to pound the Indians? Or was it a combination of my bad karma and that column?
Somehow, rational thought isn’t returning to me on this one as quickly as it returned to me on that plane. I’m wondering if I should even watch tonight’s game on TV.
By the time you are reading this, you will know how it ended.
If they lost again, I don’t blame you at all for holding me — and Scott — responsible for sending the series back to Boston.
Hopefully all this superstition will seem silly as time goes by.
Because we’ll realize that while there might indeed be a finger of fate, the only place it can possibly be is on the hand of the pitcher who couldn’t find the plate or the batter who couldn’t find the ball.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thorns? Well, yeah, they come with the roses

Published Oct. 8, 2007

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary.
Hard to believe it has been 30 years since that day I walked down the aisle with the guy from New Jersey I met at Ohio State.
We were just kids when we got married. We didn't have jobs, but we had a 1968 Firebird convertible that started most of the time. We'd be fine.
And we have been.
We've been like two boats tethered together, riding calm seas and rough seas. Yeah, we've gotten a little banged up over the years - we raised two boys - but we're still riding those waves together.
I asked my husband why he thought we have been able to stay together for so long.
"You just have to keep mother happy," he said, laughing.
When he quickly noticed I wasn't laughing back, he stopped making fun of me, illustrating what may be the most important key to a long and happy marriage: Realize what irritates the other person and don't do it.
"To last for 30 years, two people have to really like each other," he said.
"Sure, we're in love, but we are also best friends. We have fun when we are together. We laugh all the time."
We laugh all the time because we look at the twisted world through what seems to be the same set of eyes. The people he sees as nincompoops, I see as nincompoops. The people he sees as blowhards, I see as blowhards. The people he doesn't like, I don't like.
Hmm, I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge that may explain why we don't have a lot of friends.
It is a good thing we have each other.
"Even the things we differ about we have fun with - like our constant temperature battle," he said.
We only have temperature battles because he's a hothouse plant with no need for circulating air, and I'm a normal person who needs a fan in the room to be able to breathe.
But this, too, we have found a way to resolve. He lets me point a fan at my side of the bed and I let him have a gigantic comforter to wrap himself in.
See, that's all it takes to have a good marriage - a little give and take.
"We love to travel together and want to go to every Caribbean island we can before we are too old," he said.
Yes, getting out and seeing the world is great - as long as you want to see the same corner of the world, and we'll take any corner with a beach, a lounge chair, a turquoise sea and a fruity drink.
And go on those vacations even if you think you can't afford them. It's only money, and you only live once. We've never been very good at managing our finances but we always seem to get by. When we're old, we may be sitting on a corner somewhere with tin cups in our hands, but we'll always be able to look back and say we've had a good life.
"We've had our share of tough times, but that's where the love came in - neither one of us could bear to think about life without one another," my husband said.
When I got home yesterday, he was standing at the kitchen counter arranging 30 long-stemmed yellow roses in a big vase.
Every anniversary, he has given me yellow roses - as many as the years we have been married, but he wasn't going to get them this year. I'm going to a newspaper conference tomorrow and - we talked about it - by the time I get back, the flowers will be wilted.
"Afraid breaking the tradition will be bad karma?" I asked him as he put the roses he wasn't going to buy on the table.
"Yeah," he mumbled.
"Aren't they pretty?"

Want to forget your ills? Watch daytime TV

Published Oct. 1, 2007

I walked into the hospital for my routine woman exam.
I spotted the door that said "Women's Health" and walked in.
It was a tiny room, more like a cubicle than a room actually.
I checked in with the receptionist and took a seat.
In this tiny room was a television, the volume up so high that the sordid tale that was unfolding on it could be heard in the next county, I'm sure.
"I caught my husband in bed with my cousin's daughter," a female voice said.
"I didn't know she was your cousin," a male voice replied.
And on they went, revealing secrets that I had no desire to hear (and wondered how anyone else could either).
There were two other women in the room. I asked them if they were watching the television. They said no.
Kindred spirits.
"Who watches this stuff?" I asked them, not expecting or getting an answer.
I opened my newspaper and tried not to listen to the trash tale of woe.
I looked around the cubicle for a place where I could not hear the television.
The guests on the show, who were now screaming at each other, were sporadically interrupted by a calm voice - the daytime TV show's host - that only served to set them off at an even higher decibel.
"I can't take it," I thought, feeling a little panicked. "I can't sit here any longer," I thought, feeling like an animal in a cage.
I got up and walked over to the receptionist.
"Do you think you could put on a news channel?" I asked her.
"Oh, you can change the channel. Go ahead," she said.
So I did. I put in on CNN, and then I turned the volume down real low.
Ah, much better. I read my newspaper until they called my name to go back for my exam.
When I was done, the X-ray technician took me down the hall and told me to have a seat in the waiting room. This was not the first waiting room I was in. This was the post-exam waiting room, and it was even smaller than the first one.
I looked in. It was nearly filled with women in hospital gowns who were staring toward a corner of the room where a TV was playing if not the same show I had seen earlier, one with the same theme - loud people telling the world things I would not tell my mother.
I stood on the threshold. I looked around inside for an open seat. I spotted one, but I couldn't make myself go in. So I just stood there.
I was lucky in the other waiting room - it only had two women in it. This one had six. I couldn't just tromp in this one and be Queen of the Television.
I turned around and walked back down the hall. I found a little alcove with a couple chairs in it. It was almost out of earshot of this new Mr. and Mrs. Trashy TV Couple. I sat down and read my paper, waiting for someone to tell me they had looked at my X-rays and I was free to go.
After getting out of my hospital gown and back into my own clothes, I considered asking someone working there why we had to be subjected to those obnoxious TV shows playing loudly in every corner of the place.
But I didn't.
I was afraid I was just being a brat who is used to having control of the remote control. Maybe everyone else there liked to watch those shows.
So I just left. I walked through the waiting room and out the door.
Wondering how many ailments are as painful as watching the Jerry Springers and Judge Judys of daytime TV.