Thursday, March 10, 2016

Joe Jinx

 How about a little flight of fancy for this week? Sometimes I feel like I’m the guy in the story.


     Joe Jinx isn’t really my name. It’s actually Joseph Rastankowski. With that moniker, you’d think I’d be an ethnic type with loads of rich Eastern European cultural history riding my back. I’m not. Until you learned my name, you’d take me for an Englishman or a Scandinavian. Just an ordinary all-American guy… except for one thing.
     The best way to explain that one thing is to say “don’t ever get behind me in a grocery store checkout line. “Inevitably, something goes wrong. The cashier’s machine goes on the blink. The cashier goes on the blink. The customer can’t find her money or sends a kid to pick up something she forgot while everyone else fiddles and fidgets. Something.
     It started way back in high school when I was playing sandlot baseball with some of the guys. I was racing to catch a high pop up fly when the wind caught the ball. I yelled for Auggie Hixton to get it, but he was kinda slow getting set, and it went right through his hands and popped him on the forehead. Laid him out flat and raised a goose egg like a third eye two inches above the real ones. Things went south fast after that. Actually, I think the guys were just using me as an excuse when they goofed up, but it wasn’t long before it started to take on some heft. I was called Typhoid Joe for about three weeks before someone settled on the name that followed me for the rest of my life: Joe Jinx.
     My rep got so bad that everyone started begging me to skip our varsity ball games. Afraid I’d jinx them. One year during the state championship game, our quarterback gave me ten bucks to go to the movies or someplace… anyplace except the football field.
     My sophomore year in college, my dorm mates bought me a blonde—a little older than the coeds we usually ran with—as an inducement to pass up the basketball finals. As you’d expect, that one didn’t work out too well. The rubber broke, and I spent a few anxious weeks thereafter, but I never heard anything from the girl… er, woman.
     Even college debaters got in on the act. My roommate at the time was on the team and threatened to strangle me in my sleep if I didn’t keep my distance from Frocton Hall where they were holding the regional finals. Even so, they still blamed me when our guys were eliminated in the first round.
     I don’t even play chess, but the college chess club shoots daggers my way ever since I walked past the room where they were holding their eliminations. At that precise moment, one leg of a long table where there were six matches going on collapsed and dumped boards and pieces all over the place.
     Of course, the condition survived my college years. My associates at work refused to fly with me on business trips after we had to exit the airliner cabin on one of those rubber slides when an engine caught fire. I tried to point out how lucky we were that it happened before we left the runway, but no one was buying it.
     The boss always finds important chores that have to be done immediately anytime he has an important staff meeting coming up. That’s most likely because during the last one I attended the bottom to the coffee pot dropped off and spilled scalding hot liquid all over his thousand-dollar conference table and dribbled down onto his two-thousand-dollar suit pants. I felt that was terribly unfair, even though I was the one pouring him a fresh cup at the moment of the Pyrex failure.
     Fortunately, this hasn’t impacted my personal life much other than spending a lot of time in slow-moving lines. Well, I guess I that’s not really true, either. I’m still single, you see. Was supposed to get married right before Christmas last year, but that went up in smoke when Felicia—that’s my ex-fiancée—came over just as I was putting away the blow-up doll the guys gave me at my bachelor’s party in lieu of a hooker. Don’t know why she wouldn’t believe me when I told her it was their idea of a joke. Maybe it would have gone better if I hadn’t been standing in my briefs when she walked in.

I sincerely hope you did not recognize yourself in this little bit of fluff. Keep on reading, because readers are the greatest people in the world. And feel free to contact me at

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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