READER BEWARE: A Bit of Bizarre Background Behind Beyond the Ides
Authors can be a quirky bunch, but Craig McGuire takes things to a new level with his latest book.
The following is an excerpt from the “Reader Advisory” prefacing Beyond the Ides – Why March is the Unluckiest Month of All:
WARNING! This book will change the way you look at life forever.
Relax. It only lasts 31 days of the year.
My premise is simple. March is the unluckiest month of all. Go on. Laugh. Roll your eyes. Still, you will walk away with my pebble in your shoe. From this book forth, when bad luck befalls in the mean season, you will glance at the calendar, remember what you read here, and have your own revelation.
Much as I did long ago.
It was the last day of the longest month of 1999. My run-down one-bedroom in Gravesend, Brooklyn, lightly reeked of mildew from days of grey rains seeping through cracks in old warped windows. Miserable, I sulked on my faded calico couch nursing facial bee stings. Tossing out the trash the day before, I knocked over the pail. Bending down to set the can right, I disturbed a hive, sending a squadron of yellow jackets swarming into the holes in my face. Stumbling, flailing, gagging, jamming fingers into my mouth and nose, the soft-flesh membrane stings brought tears to my eyes.
Strange, I later thought, for bees to be out on a cold rainy Brooklyn March morning.
The next day watching television in that musty apartment, a startling news report flashed across the screen. A villain viciously assaulted Harlequin heartthrob Fabio, striking him in the face no less.
As the bees were stabbing my face the day before, a bird slammed into Fabio’s fabulous smile, mid-ride, aboard the new Apollo’s Chariot roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. (As of this writing, the video has pulled 431,545 views on YouTube. Trust me, it never gets old.)
It starts out pleasantly enough. On hand to christen the coaster, Fabio is bulging out of his light blue cotton button-down, Olympian locks gently ruffling in the breeze. The harness barely restrains his rippling physique, strapped into the front car beside three bubbly beauties bedecked in Roman togas.
Our cameraman is not actually on the crowded coaster, so the clip fades out as Fabio’s chiseled chin ascends sunward astride the steel horse he rides.
Then it happened. According to an eyewitness, moments after the coaster sped out of camera-view, the diabolical duck struck Fabio’s face with massive force, in the midst of a 210-foot descent screaming at upwards of 73 mph.
Fade-in to the next frame.
The smile has fled Fabio’s blood-flecked face, giving us his best what-the-hell-just-happened-to-poor-Fabio look. As the coaster slowly crawls into the station, he barely, bravely holds back the tears.
The date was March 30, 1999.
The ride reopened 15 minutes later, with park officials reassuring media that the incident was an “unpredictable freak accident that has never occurred before.” Those words struck me with the force of a bird to the face as I fingered the wounds of my own “unpredictable freak accident that has never occurred before.”
I made the connection.
Over the years, my more bizarre mishaps and misadventures had one thing in common. They happened in March. March is the unluckiest month of all. March is endless bad luck for me, from broken noses to stubbed toes, back aches to ankle breaks, sprained knees, lost keys, lost jobs, lost money, lost girlfriends, and really, really bad haircuts.
Can you feel me, Vinko?
You know Vinko. Anyone who watched pre-cable American television through the 1970s and 1980s knows Vinko Bogataj. His catastrophic crash during a ski-jumping championship in Germany established establishing Vinko as the “Agony of Defeat Guy” from the opening credits of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
The date was March 21, 1970.
It is not just that Vinko spun through the air like a German bisque doll. Athletes fall and fail all the time. Yet producers plucked Vinko from a pile of thousands of clips, immortalizing him as the modern archetype for losing in sports.
Fabio did not just have a bad photo-op. Watch the video. He rode the rest of that ride with parts of a bird impaled in his multi-million-dollar face, whining, whimpering, cursing in Italian, blood flecking the togas of those girls, who had to be tripping.
One cannot begin to imagine Fabio’s panic.
Oh wait, yes, one can.
Caught on camera, it lives forever on YouTube. Being violently birded on a roller coaster guarantees making the five o’clock evening news everywhere.
For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe it was not only me. Bad things happen every day, all the time, all year round. May be that there are months with even more tragedies than March.
March, however, is the unluckiest month of all.
Now I am no scientist, psychologist, or sociologist. This fear of March, this is just my thing. Yet for years, often when I share my thing with people, it becomes their thing.
Is luck, or bad luck, random? From the German (gelücke), Slavic (lukyj) and Russian (luchaj), the concept of luck is rooted in destiny and fortune. So perhaps luck is less chance happenstance and more converging circumstance. Not controllable, but maybe luck is predictable, at least on some level.
So before you read further, be warned. This book will change the way you look at life for 31 days each year.
When the strange season comes, something will happen. Then my thing will become your thing and you will beware the ides of March forever more!
That was a bit of bizarre background behind Beyond the Ides. To read more interesting stories of unlucky events taking place in the month of March, pick up your copy of Beyond the Ides.