Years ago, when I lived in New York City, I resided on the 3rd floor of a dilapidated brownstone and had an eccentric neighbor who lived on the ground floor. Mrs. Katherine was a psychic, or at least that’s what the sign in the window of her apartment said. Mrs. Katherine and her husband, Fat Tony (his name; not mine), had about a million relatives and they would routinely have the rest of the gang out on the stoop for BBQ. One night they fired up the portable grill, threw some lamb on the barbie and then, they disappeared. I don’t know if they were suddenly called out for a Psychic Friends Network convention, but as the smoke billowed up to my window, I, myself had a psychic premonition that my apartment was going to go up in flames. I called the cops, they called the fire department, they put out the flaming lamb, and Mrs. Katherine and Fat Tony were cited for reckless grilling, or something like that.
I don’t know how Mrs. Katherine found out that I was the one who made the call, but she did, and she was madder than a clairvoyant with a cracked crystal ball. The next day I passed her on my way to work and she muttered something to me in a foreign tongue and waved a shrunken head in my direction.
That was the beginning of my water curse.
I suppose it is a fitting response to a fire that she should curse me with water, but from that moment on, I have been plagued by water troubles.
I’ve had vacations washed out by monsoons, roofs and basements that have leaked and flooded simultaneously, and more overflowing toilets than you could shake a plunger at.
There has been frozen water (a freak hail storm that pummeled my car), hot water (a burst boiler), and warm soapy water (a washing machine that went berserk).
For fifteen years, I have had more water issues than Noah: The only welcome deluge occurring when I went into labor and my water broke. But that was followed by 36 hours of more labor, so the vote’s still out on that one.
Because of my curse, I have actively avoided cruise ships, surfing, scuba diving, and any other mode of water transportation or sport that could result in me sinking, drowning, or being eaten by a shark, Loch Ness Monster, or giant squid.
Which is not to say that I am paranoid. I swim. I ski. I even take a cold shower when we run out of hot water.
However, it has gotten tiresome to be cursed and so from time to time I have looked for ways to reverse the curse. Of course the first thing I did was go back to New York City to see if Mrs. Katherine was over the whole thing. But she must have had a psychic premonition that I was coming because when I got there, the sign, the BBQ and the whole clan had disappeared.
Then I looked on the Internet to see if there were any spells or potions I could try to shake the curse. But they all involved water, which I thought kind of defeated the purpose.
I finally called a friend who’s had some experience with this kind of thing. Her brother-in-law had a softball curse. Every time he pitched, his team lost the game. The team finally figured out how to break the curse: They never let him pitch again.
Since I wasn’t about to give up bathing, I thought I needed another option.
“Well, said my friend, “You could consult a witch.”
“Most of my friends drive minivans, not brooms,” I said.
“You could build an ark,” she suggested.
“I get seasick on boats.”
“Well then,” she said decisively. “There’s only one thing left to do.”
“Get a new bathing suit.”