Friday, August 6, 2010

Me and the Green Monster

I'm not a lucky guy. Anyone who knows me knows that my luck vacillates between "God-awful" and "horrendous", and rarely tips the scales above "unfortunate".

Normally, winning something in a raffle would be considered lucky, but, again, it's me we're talking about here. I have won 2 things in my life in raffles, and explaining this should help you understand why I consider my luck to be so terrible.

The first "prize" I ever won was at a basketball game when I was in Jr. high. It was a fire extinguisher.

Let me repeat that: I won a fire extinguisher.

Just what every growing boy dreams about when they lay their impressionable heads to pillow at night. A fire extinguisher.

Pinch me.

The second thing I won happened in High School. It was a car.

You might, at this point, be saying, "A car, Dave? That sounds awfully lucky to me! What gives, you insufferable, ungrateful prick!?"

That's a bit harsh. But I'll press on. But for future reference, if you really want the rest of the story, you might try a bit more tact. Just a suggestion.

It was my junior year at Lakeland and someone in the administration came up with what was originally a solid plan. For every quarter of perfect attendance, a student would get one entry in a drawing to be held at the end of the year. Imagine how minds raced when it was announced that the grand prize would be an automobile!

No, seriously. Imagine it. NOW! …..That's better.

So, throughout that year I managed one single quarter of perfect attendance. One entry. Not good odds in a school of roughly 700 students, especially given that my luck has ALWAYS been shatty!

So as the year drew to a conclusion, the details of the drawing trickled in. The car was to be a repo aquired from a local bank. It was a mid-80's Buick Regal. Bearing in mind that it was 1991 (Goddammit, I'm OLD!!), that model of car wasn't the worst thing in the world. Second prize was to be a $500 gift certificate to the local stereo shop. Not too shabby.

As the seniors were given a few extra days off to prepare for graduation, they held a general assembly about a week prior to the end of the year. The dragged us out to the football field bleachers for the production and drove the car to the 50 yard line.

The base color of the car was piss-green (this actually being offensive to piss, as this color was appalling!). The interior was an even worse shade of velvet asparagus, though admittedly in very solid condition. Compounding the dreadfulness, the administrators (in their infinite wisdom) had sent the car to the Elkhart Career Center, where they allowed the auto detailing students-slash-slack-jaws Carte Blanche. What was returned was a piss-green Buick with a light tan splotche covering the front of the car, THICK baby blue and red racing stripes jetting down the sides of the car, and the words "Laker Mobile" on the back quarter panels.

This was an abomination to a degree that defies description. This thing was horrible on a level you have to take stairs to reach. There simply aren't enough words in any language to describe how hideous this car looked.

I actually just threw up a little in my mouth thinking about it!

So, the plan was to drag 10 unfortunate cattle down to the slaughter and then draw from those 10 names. With each passing name, my anxiety grew. I did NOT want to be on that field, with the smiling gazes of my peers staring holes through my soul.

The 7th name passed. "Thank God! Now I know it won't be me. With my luck, I would have to be picked in the first 3 so I could stand there and fester for longer."

The 8th name was called, and the unlucky soul sauntered begrudgingly down to the lineup on the turf. "We're good. It won't be me."

The 9th passed. "Thanks, Big Guy. I appreciate you sparing me."

Then it happened. My name echoed for what seemed like hours.

"Fuck!" I thought. My friends laughing the laugh of insanity as the pushed me out of my seat and toward that automotive bastardization. I passed the other 9 students, who all shared this look made up of equal parts terror and shame.

Now I started doing the math. "1 in 10 that I win that stereo gift certificate. 80% that I walk away completely unscathed. I can live with those odds."

First they drew for the gift certificate. My friend Jimmy won it. "Son of a bitch! I wanted that! Now I just have to be one of the lucky 8!"

Time seemingly stood still as I stewed over losing out on that certificate. I was still in mid-lament when they called off the "lucky winner". Hearing my name echo for the second time that day, I can't honestly say I remember what went through my mind. I'm told however, that it could clearly be read on my lips one single word.


Laughter ensued throughout the stands, as if I'd just been "pants" …and then crapped out a clown. This was the single-most embarrassing moment of my life to that point and ever since. But it wasn't over.

Then they brought out the photographer from the local newspaper. It wasn't bad enough that all of my friends and girls I still hoped to sleep with were there to witness my utter discomfiture; now the moment would be captured for posterity, recorded en photo for future generations to laugh at until they pee.

Full page spread in the paper. And the yearbook.

Bear in mind that I still had several days until the close of the year to reap the rewards of that fugly, rolling eyesore. I couldn't hang my head low enough walking down the halls of Lakeland to evade the jeers of my peers; the laughter and snickering.

I sold that awful thing as quickly as I could to the first taker (a hillbilly who actually LIKED the paint job those knuckle-draggers had ensconced the car with!!). I saw it driving around every once in a blue moon; a constant reminder of the most embarrassing day of my existence.

Yes, I made money off the deal. But how much money is dignity worth?

See? Even when I win, I lose. My luck sucks!

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