Day 23: How Much More?

Sammi Esterman Balik

Fallen LDBCer Sammi Esterman Balik

How much more? A bit more than three days. An eternity, in other words.

There are pluses and minuses to being blasted by The Boy early in the game. On the one hand, you’re in the LDBC afterlife right off the bat and don’t have to walk in fear anymore. On the other, it’s kind of humiliating to get cut down right out of the gate.

Similarly, while it’s frustrating as hell to get thisclose to winning, only to be clotheslined within days of the finish line, there is some pride to be taken in having made it that far.

Mrs. LDBC and I just returned from a light, late lunch at neighborhood favorite Taste of Heaven, where we were absolutely certain we were going to buy it amongst the tasteful holiday decorations and tempting cupcakes. (The Elvis and Cho Cho Cho offerings are among my recommendations.) The joint was chockablock with Christmas music, and I was all set to snap a tragic selfie. Only The Boy didn’t show. Likewise yesterday, when I made it out of my doctor’s waiting room in one piece after a enduring a veritable tempest of yuletide tunes.

Still, not all is phew and relief. We have a whole new batch of LDBC-elfies, and yet again, it is our duty to doff our caps to observe a silent moment of solemnity for the fallen pictured below. They started this thing with the same hopes and dreams as we did this year, and they were done in by the dastardly drum before they could even glimpse the finish line at the end of Santa Claus Lane.

The moment we wake up, before we put on our makeup, we say a little prayer for them.

Speaking of prayers, this noir LDBCer Dispatch from Cathy D Thomas is simply divine and deserves to be included in its entirety:

Three o’clock in the morning, And, I’m supposed to sleep.

I said I’d be dead by Friday. Of course, The Boy didn’t let me go that easy.

The first thing you should know is that Denver had a snowstorm this week. That must sound to others like, ‘the sun rose today’, but really, in Denver, snowstorms mostly dust the grass, then melt on the pavement in midday. This snowstorm closed the Denver Public Schools; that meant that the bus drivers couldn’t see far enough to drive, and kids couldn’t climb the snowbanks caused by plowing, if their neighborhoods were lucky enough to get proactive clearing overnight.

The next thing you need to know is that after a protracted period of periodic employment, I started my first full-time job in over a year. That meant getting up at 5 am, to allow for the bus delays on the commute, and coming home to massage the bruises and strains on my legs and knees going over fairly rough ice terrain. By the time of yesterday’s party, I was tired enough to assume I needed cabs coming and going. I learned to depend on the kindness of strangers, and have cash ready.

The third and final thing to know? Denver has a barbaric system of ordering every bar to clear out its patrons by 1 am. That means drunken brawls and shootings occur in the parking lots, because bingers get frustrated. It also means that after midnight, finding a cab outside the LoDo bar sector becomes nearly impossible.

My tiredness should have stopped me from assuming The Boy would forget my winning streak, my dodging of Him during this week’s several corporate holiday festivities. Tiredness, the cold, and my desperation to get home led to arrogance — and, The Boy was waiting for me.

After getting through the first cab ride, with a driver who didn’t know why locals still call Sports Authority Field at Mile High “Mile High Stadium”, I got to the party, ate, drank, pocketed luscious chocolate bonbons from the table-setting bowls, and settled down to bet $1000 of play money toward the eternal bitch goddess of Roulette… where I left the table with over $2000. (This never, ever happens with real cash.)

I then observed my co-workers careen through hands of Blackjack, a game I love, but never will be good enough to play. (Too lazy to count, for Blackjack, too wussy to be an asshole, for Poker.) Throughout all this, the DJ played classic hits. Someone, bless him, asked for non-Christmas music — you see what this led me to? Yep — I thought I’d dodged Him.

By midnight, we ended our hands, as the dealers were getting loopy with the overtime, then gathered our coats. I’d asked a co-worker to get a lift to a downtown cabstand, but we missed each other in the rush to leave. At 12:15, I called a taxi (no smartphone, nor the desire to support scab drivers, to call Uber). By 12:45, it was clear no one would take the ride, so I called another company. By 1:30, after three calls to the dispatcher, and two to the driver, we finally found each other, in one of the large parking lots in front of the stadium. He was new to the city, and his phone’s directions suggested taking the highway, a cab-rider’s sucker bet. I told him, step by step, how to take me home.

1:40 am. We were on the homestretch, with clear traffic and no need to speak. The radio was on low, playing K-Love Christian Rock. I barely heard it, but knew, once I did, I had to acknowledge the truth. There it was — Pa rum pum pum pum — and, it was over.

“Turn it up,” I sighed.

“Off?”

“No — up.” Why not? These fuzzy, faux-hep, Jesus-Freak monsters did the equivalent of tripping me on the sooty, disgusting street ice, twisting my ankle on someone else’s tracks, then stomping on my hand, as I tried to struggle back up. The joy of the season will remain, but tainted by their harmonies.

At least I still have the bonbons, and can take my muscle relaxant and try to sleep 12 hours, in my nest of Snuggies, down comforters and regret.

But, The Boy? God damn the man and his music. And triple damn MercyMe, who saw fit to use The Boy as their signal bombast on their Xmas album.

Three days-plus and counting, people. It’s stiff-upper-lip time now.

For Craig!

(The usual reminder: should your lip wilt and you find yourself among the fallen, please report in via the official form so that you’re included in the gratifyin’ game-end stats. And if you’re feeling photographically frisky, post an LDBC-elfie of your sad, shocked face on the Facebook wall.)

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