It is said that paradox is the way of the world. One cannot have good without evil; light without darkness. That’s dogma.
It is also said that what comes around, goes around. That’s karma and it runs right over dogma every time.
Karma follows you through the generations, through several lifetimes, through eternity itself, it seems. I am convinced that, as big a jerk as I am now, I must have been exponentially worse in my last life. Otherwise I’d be filthy rich and have all my hair.
Then there are those moments that are more akin to Murphy’s Law, as in, “The number of really beautiful women who are going to pass you on a deserted stretch of highway increases in exponentially direct proportion to how far your index finger is up your nose at any given time.”
Then there are those inexplicable, random situations. I call these episodes of Karmic Spazmosis. That is, occasionally, you do something stupid and embarrassing as if by predestination. It’s not that you have a plan that goes horribly wrong, like showing up on a first date with your fly down. It’s more like what I would guess those folks in Biblical times would consider sudden demonic possession. You’re simply minding your own business and it just happens. The guy who is about to eat a bologna sandwich, only to be crushed by a falling communications satellite, is a somewhat extreme — but not necessarily unlikely — example.
I experienced one of those moments just the other day.
It happened like this. I decided to stop to grab a bite of lunch a little later in the afternoon the other day. I had a taste for chicken wings, and this place I know has some of the best I’ve had in a long time. Also, I had a harmless ulterior motive; I wanted to talk to someone about booking my band there.
I walked in and the timing seemed perfect. The lunch rush – and this place gets busy at lunch – was over. A couple of guys enjoying the day off were sitting at the bar knocking back a couple of cold ones. A couple of women and their children were enjoying a late lunch outside at one of the patio tables. I grabbed a seat at one of these tall round tables inside, ordered a dozen or so chicken wings, and proceeded to give my undivided attention to ESPN for a few minutes,
I believe A-Rod and his steroids was the big story of the day. Ho, hum, more background noise. It’s little faux scandals like this that obviously made the brilliant comic Chris Rock ask the question, “Is the government looking for Osama Bin Laden or Barry Bonds?”
I have to agree with Mr. Rock, and one of my colleagues – one, it’s small potatoes in this world of economic crises and terror threats and two, it really doesn’t matter what you ingest if you still can’t hit a curve ball.
But I digress. The point I am working my way around to is this: Does this easy going, bucolic setting sound like a backdrop for imminent disaster? And yet…
It’s funny what your body will do sometimes. When you’re a hormone-addled teenage guy, there are times when you’ll respond, somewhat panic stricken, to the teacher’s request to get up from your desk and work out a geometry proof on the chalk board, “No thank you, ma’am, I’ll just take the zero,” because your mind was on the cheerleader sitting in front of you instead of Pythagoras’ Theorem.
Unfortunately, when you get older, your body does other things. In this case, my body chose to hit me with a king-sized Charlie horse to the back of the thigh. I mean, sudden, intense pain, as though Zeus himself had reached down with both hands to give me a Lithuanian Toothache. Of course, when pain suddenly hits, the tendency is to also involuntarily shout out, Tourette’s-like, a number of pain-relieving incantations, usually scatological and/or blasphemous in content.
I grabbed my table, I stomped my foot. I uttered my incantations in a tone of voice that should have set off car alarms all the way across the parking lot. And as I got up, I stumbled, the table tipped, and my very large and full glass of water slammed against the table and bounced to the floor.
I looked up to see employees, managers, and the few customers still in the place staring at me first in horror – no doubt, they thought I was having a massive coronary right there in the restaurant – then in helpless amusement. After all, it’s not every day you see someone suddenly possessed by disco demons in the middle of a public place.
All I could do was mumble an apology and offer to help clean up the mess.
I’m guessing they’re thinking twice about booking the band there, too, unless we change our name to, say, “St. Vitus’s Dance.”