This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
There are many things I hope to pass onto my son. I hope Will gets my sick sense of humor and love for writing and storytelling. I hope he inherits my passion for the Red Sox and Patriots. If I’m lucky he’ll get my sense of loyalty and undying passion for close friends and family. But there is one thing I’m praying he doesn’t get.
The Vacation Curse.
To say the men in my family have bad luck when it comes to vacations, is like saying Britney Spears has slight problems taking care of her children. A complete and total understatement. My father has a particularly bad case of it. Forget the fact that it snowed in Las Vegas for the first time in 100 years while he was there, or that during a business trip to Arizona (in the desert!!!) part of his seminar had to be canceled due to a flood. That’s just child’s play. The real testament to the curse lies within his two trips to New Orleans, both involving a Patriots Super Bowl.
The first was in February of 1997 when the Patriots played the Packers. Seeing as he’s a season ticket holder and it was my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary, they decided to go all out. They purchased a package deal that included airfare, hotel and tickets to the big game. When they got to the hotel, all that was missing was a chalk outline of a body on the floor. They said it was just horrible and even though they moved rooms, the second one was worse than the first. But they tried not to let that dampen their spirits as they had a big game to look forward to. So on gameday, they put on their jerseys and went outside the hotel to catch the bus to the SuperDome. Except there was no bus. Instead, there were a few police cruisers and a mob of angry people who purchased the same ticket package. Apparently, the travel agency had failed to secure the tickets. That meant dozens of people who paid thousands of dollars were now out of a ticket and had no way to get into the game. So my parents headed toward the stadium and sought out scalpers. Face value at the time was $500 per ticket I believe, and let’s just say my father paid considerably more than that when he bought a second set from a shady scalper. But no matter, because they were in the game. Sure they had missed most of the first quarter, but soon they would be in their seats to enjoy the biggest game of the year.
What they didn’t count on, however, was the three other couples who also had the same seats. Yep, you guessed it. My dad managed to buy counterfeit tickets. So then it was off to the league office to explain what happened. After an hour of arguing, the league office offered my parents two different tickets to the game…for the face value charge of $500 each. That’s right, my parents ended up purchasing a total of three pairs of tickets to one game, which the Patriots ended up losing 35-21 anyways.
Then, in 2001 when the Patriots were in the Super Bowl again against the St. Louis Rams, my dad went again. And again, the game was held in New Orleans. This time my father made sure he bought real tickets and he was taking no chances. He didn’t even want to take the chance of leaving the tickets in his hotel room, so when he went out the night before the game he folded up the tickets in his front pocket just to be safe. Well, we don’t know what happened that night. The way my Dad tells it he was just innocently minding his own business, but I have to believe he imbibed a Hurricane or two and got a little woozy. Either way, he was pickpocketed and had his tickets stolen. And again, he had to pay thousands for a new set of tickets. But at least this time they weren’t counterfeit.
There are countless other stories involving lost or destroyed luggage, but it wasn’t until I started vacationing with MJ that I realized the Travel Curse had been passed onto me.
It was 2004 and MJ and I had been dating for 4 months. Thanks to an UNBELIEVABLE deal on airfare and hotels to Arizona ($282 per person for round trip airfare, 3 nights hotel and a rental car!!) we decided to go to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon and also watch the Patriots play the Cardinals. It was perfect. Even though MJ isn’t a big football fan, she would get to see the Grand Canyon and I’d be able to enjoy the game. Everyone wins.
So we get there and it’s wonderful. Nice hotel, a Mustang convertible and the girl I love. But as soon as we got back to the hotel we started fighting. I forget what it was about, but I know that it was heated. We had decided to leave the hotel at 5 a.m. to get an early start on driving to the Grand Canyon, and the fight was minutes before we left which made for an awkward car ride. And since MJ wanted to go to the North Rim of the canyon instead of the popular South Rim, that meant about 12 hours driving round trip. That day turned out to be wonderful as the Grand Canyon and Arizona in general is one of our favorite places. The Curse didn’t kick in until later that night.
Around 10 p.m. the night before the game, MJ was feeling a little queasy. That progressed to feeling VERY queasy and eventually to vomiting. And it didn’t stop. She puked the whole night and in the wee hours of the morning it became readily apparent she needed help. So around 6 a.m. we decided to go to the emergency room. The only problem for me was we were supposed to start tailgating at the football game around 9 a.m. So I packed all the football gear into the car and dressed in my Tedy Bruschi jersey, hoping we could go straight from the hospital to the game.
I was wrong.
After a few hours in the ER they (incorrectly) diagnosed her with pancreatitis and said they’d release her, but only if we went back to the hotel and she rested. I was crestfallen and to be honest, I had many emotions running through my head. The first was one sorrow for my poor girlfriend who was ill. But that was followed closely by “Hmmmm…if I leave her in the hospital I could probably catch the game and then pick her up afterwards.” I know that sounds horrible, but the Patriots are a very important part of my life. I’ve been to nearly every home game since I was a little kid thanks to my dad’s season tickets. To travel all this way and not see them seemed downright criminal.
But in the end, common sense prevailed. I picked up all of her medication and got her back to the hotel room just as the game was about to start. I was upset, but I figured I could at least watch the game on TV.
That’s right when the Curse threw me a curveball and kicked me squarely in the junk.
The game wasn’t sold out in Arizona. And when games aren’t sold out, they black out the game on TV locally. That meant I had to keep calling my family all the way back in Massachusetts, to get updates on a football game taking place in Arizona just 20 minutes down the street from where I was staying. Let’s just say I’ve never quite let MJ forget this incident, even though we now know it was Crohn’s Disease and she was indeed very sick. Looking back however, I can’t believe I married the first woman who ever caused me to miss a football game. Life’s funny I guess.
But the point is I’m petrified of vacationing with Will and the future bad luck he could have passed down from my father and me. My vacationing family has already caused floods and snow in the desert, so Will’s luck is probably going to be catastrophic. I may have to convince him that staying at home is the best way to go. Just for his own safety.