A lost work ID, missing wallet, and a personal injury accident all in the same day. Am I surprised? Hell no. This is how things go with me, and I just shrug it off.
Most people know that I have bad luck.
But what they don't know is that bad luck runs deep in my ancestry. We can trace the mishap through my paternal bloodlines as far back as the 12th century.
You all know my person tales of woe, ranging from my sailboat accident and subsequent car wreck, break in, hotwiring job, and lockout to my more recent tango with a tablesaw. But just how far does this bad luck streak take root?
A Cursed Family
Only weeks after my dad had rebuilt his airplane to better-than-new condition, a tornado blew through the airfield where it was tied down, tore it from its lanyards, and cartwheeled it over and over... making it into a scrap of metal, wood, and fabric once again. He had only flown it twice since it had been rebuilt.
My uncle was born premature. At the time, the incubator was a new invention, and he was a prime candidate for it. However, medical science had only progressed to the point where it was believed that oxygen was the most important element a newborn could breathe, so all incubators were fed an oxygen-rich air supply. TOO rich. So rich that it messed with the development of his brain and nervous system. He, and hundreds of other babies at the time were mutated blind as a result. It took scientists and doctors 15 years to discover the cause of this epidemic, now known as Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
My second-cousin once got locked inside the art shop after hours at her college. She ended up cutting through the doorframe with a chainsaw.
Another one of my uncles was in the Boundary Waters about 30 years ago and had to take a dump. Some nearby leaves always made for acceptable ass-wipe. Except this time, he got poison ivy... internally.
You see the trend here?
Now let's jump back to what was likley the beginnings of my family's bad luck, which originated in 12th century Finland. At the time, the English had learned that a great way to make money was to invade a small country, set up a provisional government, implant Mother Holy Church, and then tax the hell out of the people. What's more, the English then taught their new establishment how to do the same thing, like a franchise. Of course, these countries were assured that things were still under their own control and that the English were just there to ensure that Catholicism took root.
They did this to Sweden, and sent the papal leget Nicolas Cardinal Breakspear to make sure people were praying to the Virgin Mary and stuff. Well, King Erik was pissed about this whole English/Catholic thing, but he didn't really have the army to retaliate, so he decided to take his angst out on the next best people... the Finns. After all, the Finns were fond of piracy (at least as much as the Swedes themselves were) so it seemed like a good idea at the time. The English were all for it, so they sent along the next best thing to Cardinal Nick, and that was Bishop Henry... or Henrik as the the Finns called him.
So King Erik and the Swedish army invade Finland (poorly, I might add) and Bishop Henrik starts wandering the land with a small entourage trying to convert the people to Catholicism. Most Finns are Christian anyway, so just pushing the Mother Holy Church thing just became something of a nuisance. The fact that he was an Englishman emplanted with the Swedish army probably didn't help things either.
On January 19th, 1156 Henrik walked across the frozen Lake Köyliö to a mansion located on an island. There he stops at the house of a rich countryman named Lalli, who wasn't home at the time. However, his wife, Kerttu, was, and she wasn't about to be converted to Catholicsm, so she tried to show the bishop out. Before he went, Henrik demanded tribute, but Kerttu refused to pay the bishop a single cent. Henrik explained that for the grace of his presence, food or supplies could be offered as tribute instead of money. Again, Kerttu refused, and demanded that the bishop take his leave. At this point, Henrik admitted that in fact he was very low on supplies, and he even offered to BUY food rations and whatnot from Lalli's wife. She contemplates the notion for a moment, and finally agrees. So Henrik stocks up on supplies, and leaves Lalli's homestead un-churched, and a smidge richer.
Soon thereafter, Lalli himself returns home. Kerttu explains the whole story about Bishop Henrik, including the demand for tribute. However, she doesn't tell Lalli that Henrik purchased anything... only that he left with some of their household food and supplies. This enrages Lalli, who storms out of his house, takes an axe from the nearby woodpile, and begins following Henrik's tracks in the snow.
Lalli spots a lantern burning out on the frozen Lake Köyliö, and runs through the cold January night as fast as his rage could take him. There, he makes his vengence, and slays Bishop Henrik with the axe. Since he was already dead, Lalli figured he might as well pillage the guy. First to go was that stupid mitre hat. Lalli took it from Henrik and placed it on his own head. Next was the leget's ring. It wasn't coming off Henrik's dead finger so easily, so Lalli decided to just chop the finger off. After much ado, the finger finally comes free of bishop's body, but the ring slips off the bloody digit and falls into the snow-covered of the surface of the lake. Lalli searches for it as best he can, but never finds the ring. Instead, he gathers up his food and supplies and begins the long walk home.
To this day, Lalli is regarded as a Finnish hero... one who stood up to the pompous Catholic authority which invaded their homeland. In fact, the Finns have named several farming festivals/seasons after the event. Officially, mid-winter in Finland is known as Heikinpäivä, and it's just kind of a folk holiday, like our Ground Hog Day. In the nearby town of Köyliö, a statue of Lalli guards the majestic Birch Lane which leads to the lake with a bridge to what is now called Church Island.
But from here, the tale gets a bit gruesome, at least according to the Catholic legends. Supposedly, Lalli lived a cursed life for the next year, ending with his death. For one, the mitre froze to his head and would not come off when he got home. Still enraged, he tears the hat from his head, taking his scalp with it. Additionally, Lalli was plagued by mice which frequently attacked him as if they were trying to eat him. Lalli abandoned his residence and tried hiding in a root cellar, but eventually the rodents found him there as well. In a desperate move, Lalli escapes to a place called Kiukanen, in the village of Harolaand, and builds a new house in a place still called Lallinmaa (Lalli’s land). Even there the mice tormented the hapless Lalli. In the end Lalli was driven up a large tree by the mice. The mice began to gnaw at the tree until it came crashing down, sending Lalli and the mice into the lake, where they all drown. To this day this lake is called Hiirijärvi (Mouse Lake).
Lalli is my great great great great somethingorother great grandfather. My great great grandfather's farm still stands in the area west of Lake Köyliö. On the island, not far from Lalli's mansion, a church has been erected. On the northern wall hangs my family crest which features the bishop's mitre and an axe. Several of my relatives are buried in the graveyard beside the church.
Yes, I am related to a famous Finnish axe murderer, who was later marked as one of the unluckiest people in history.
So you see, bad luck is nothing new to my family. Coincidence or not, fact or superstition, it still makes me chuckle... even in the midst of some of my most serious hardships, I somehow find humor in it all.
Hey, beats whining.