Monday, May 11, 2009

If It Weren't For Bad Luck ...

These days, there are probably a lot of people who can sympathize with the old expression, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

Recently, I happened to see an episode of "Frasier" that was the embodiment of that sentiment.

In the episode, Frasier had recently lost his job and his 30th high school reunion was coming up. Frasier was leaning toward not going because, every time that a high school reunion came up, it coincided with a time in his life when something was amiss — one year, his wife had just divorced him; another time, he had been left at the altar; still another time, as he told his brother, "I fell face first into the poison ivy!"

Frasier was convinced that he was cursed, that "destiny's plan" was for him to go to the reunion and be the "class loser" who winds up taking a seat with "the most pathetic people there" — the chess club's barbershop quartet, The Checkmates — and join them in a round of "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby."

His brother tells him he is a man of science who should know that curses don't exist. To persuade him, Frasier's brother observes that there were explanations for the bad things that happened prior to the previous reunions — he tripped and fell into the poison ivy, his radio station changed formats (leading to his job loss), his wife didn't love him (leading to his divorce). "If this is a pep talk," Frasier replies, "would you kindly segue to the peppy part?"

Frasier fluctuates over whether to go to the reunion, asking Roz to be his date but then deciding, after she has already gone to great lengths to get a babysitter and get herself all dolled up for the occasion, not to go after all. Then, when one of his classmates mistakes him for a street person, he changes his mind again and gives Roz a last–minute phone call. He catches her in the bathtub with a pint of Häagen–Dazs, but she comes through like a trouper.

However, after Roz shows up, Niles talks Frasier out of attending the reunion and Roz storms angrily out of the apartment, justifiably upset about being "stood up twice" for the same event. At that point, Frasier's father tries to help by making up a job offer to make Frasier feel better, and Frasier leaves, solo, for the reunion, ready to gloat.

Apparently, Frasier learns, after arriving at the reunion, that the job offer was nonexistent, although the viewing audience never sees that part. It seems the curse won, after all, and he proceeds to take his seat with The Checkmates.

I can understand how Frasier felt. Last summer, my high school class held its 30th reunion. I had been hearing rumors of cutbacks at my place of employment for several weeks, so I chose to stay in Dallas and work at home, hoping to avoid what turned out to be inevitable.

I didn't label it a curse, as Frasier did, but, in hindsight, I'm not so sure.