Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Curse of the Gypsy

This Blog entry is actually a journey back in time. This is a prelude to my modern life. I hope it explains some things. Free your mind from the bonds of cruel Father Time. Float with me back to the year 1998. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, and in all dimensions.

Crash. We're here. Everybody out of the time machine. We've a story to tell.

So when I was a senior in high school, I was a compulsive litterer. I got the biggest kick out of throwing the biggest items out the window. One weekend, I went camping with some Foof's (Friends Of Other Faiths), or "gentiles," as Brigham Young would have called them. They packed along a drink called "Red Devil." It was Caffeinosaurus Rex, basically. Now, I don't ever drink caffeine. In fact, at that point in my life, I never had even once. My friends thought it was so funny to act out the stereotypical "non-members tempting us with beer" routine, only with this caffeine drink. All weekend, it was, "Come on, Smurf, all the cool kids are drinking these," and, "I bet he's just too chicken," and, "are you going to let you bishop and your parents run your life?" They had once found some seminary video, and liked to think that we Mormons needed the high-school level persecution portrayed therein to feel truly Mormon. So they obliged me. Anyway, I played into their little scenarios like a good Peter Priesthood should. "You guys, you are my friends, but I respect my body too much to be putting harmful substances into it." This went on sporadically for the whole weekend.

The final day, we were packing up to leave, and there was one Red Devil left. My friend reached for it, but before he could get it, I reached out, popped the top, and didn't stop 'til I'd slopped the last drop. My friends were flabbergasted, but then highly amused. We piled up into the car and began the tortuous journey home.

As I'm perpetually ravenous, I soon began to bug the other guys about stopping for some grub. We drove-thru a Taco Bell, and I ate a ton. But soon the effects of the Red Devil, the windy road, and the "Mexican" food combined, and I knew I was going to retch. So, I totally blew chunks in the plastic Taco Bell bag. It was unpleasant, but not as bad as ralphing KFC, I'll admit. Now we were driving down the freeway with a bag of vomit in the car. And remember my propensity toward littering....

Without a second thought I chucked the upchucked muck out the open window. The bag landed on the windshield of the car behind us, smearing throw-up everywhere. The driver turned on the windshield wipers, but the bag was stuck to one and the vomit spread everywhere. There were napkins and wrappers and things, too; it was terrible. After the bag o' barf dislodged itself and flew off, the victimized vehicle caught up to us. I was yelling at my friend to outrun it, but we were in his big ol' honkin' station wagon, "Ecto 1," and it just wasn't going to happen. I looked nervously over, and who do you think I saw?

It was a gypsy woman (or maybe a Mobu priestess). She had a silk cloth around her head, and baubles, bangles, and beads on her wrists. In her swarthy hand she clutched what looked like (and we very well could have been imagining things) some sort of bone with feathers tied to it. She was shaking it at me. At ME. And she was shouting something that we couldn't hear because her window was rolled up, but we just KNEW it was some foreign language. My friends recognized the signs immediately: "Dude, she just put a curse on you!"

Could it be? Could the woman really have put a curse on me? I'm not so sure. However, from that moment on, nothing has gone right for me until it has gone wrong a hundred times. On the mission, they called me "Elder Maldecido," or "cursed elder." Everywhere I went, chaos followed. When my little town started flooding, and we got evicted, and robbed, and we were starving to death, and our members lost their houses and we had to help them find them, and everything was going wrong, I thought back to that bag I'd hurled into and out of the car on the freeway, and I wondered.

One day we were down by the train tracks near the gypsy encampment. It was a rainy day (actually, the only moments it didn't rain during those three months were the moments it was hailing). As we reached the top of the berm near the tracks, we came face-to-face with an old gypsy woman. She looked me in the eye, and said, "Tu eres maldecido. Sal de aqui! Dejanos tranquilos!" You are cursed. Leave here. Leave us alone. I hear the sun came out the day I was transferred.

A few months and a different mission later (I had come down with some mysterious disease of the autonomic nervous system that was never identified, and I'd been transferred stateside), I was in the mission office on my way home (sick again). The office had an elderly couple who handled all the mission affairs. At that time, we had two couples; one was training the other, as it was just about time for the first to go home. As I sat there, looking forlornly out the window at the overcast sky, waiting for the mission van to pick me up and take me to the airport, I heard the old old guy say to the new old guy,

"Everything will go fine until your last eight weeks here. Then everything that can go wrong will. You'll have more sick missionaries, robberies, evictions, car accidents, bike accidents, lost credit cards, and hospitalizations during that time than you had the whole rest of your mission."

Eight weeks. The exact amount of time, to the day, that I had been in that mission. And everything on that list had happened to ME during those eight weeks. I just sighed and kept my burning eyes focused on the stratus clouds out the window, trying not to think about a certain gypsy woman (or maybe Mobu priestess) and a particular ballistic bag of beans, beef, and bile that I had so carelessly tossed out the window years before.

I don't litter any more. I've never drunk caffeine since then, either. But still, my life is a circus: entertaining and chaotic. And still, whenever I go back home, I have one eye out for a dusty beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit with a mystical, scarf-headed woman inside, so I can find her and somehow make amends. Like take her to Seven Flags Car Wash, where it's a two-for-one special on Tuesdays. You know, something like that.


smarteze said...

Loved the story! :)

werty said...

With all due respect, I think you deserved some kind of cursing. I think in the gypsy's place I'd be tempted to do a little cursing myself. Probably not so drastic, however.