Two weeks ago, I went to a conference in Orlando. It got me to thinking about the time I was in Florida for a clinical internship when I was 21. I was friends with a bunch of Canadian nurses who, like me, were there for the winter and living in hospital-provided housing. We worked all week, and spent weekends on the beach and in the bars. We always had such fun, but as I remember, I seemed to have issues with bad dates then, too.
Until my trip to Orlando, I had been thinking solely about my bad luck in the past year and a half. But it seems that my luck has always been that way. In Florida, age 21, my nickname was "Loser-magnet". (Ok, it was actually "Nerd-magnet". But that came from a bunch of Canadians and I think maybe "nerd" has a different meaning in the great white north. "Nerd-magnet" is a nickname I could proudly wear emblazoned across my chest now, as I do have a thing for nerds --and Nerd. They really meant Loser. ) In Florida, age 21, I earned that nickname.
How did I earn that nickname? Well, first there was Frank, the golf pro who took me out on a date to play miniature golf. (everyone under the age of 30 in that town worked at either the hospital or a golf course). He kept getting irritated at how uneven the playing surfaces were. And wanted to correct me each time I galloped up to the ball and whacked at it one handed. (I was playing miniature polo on a pretend horse) Then he got mad that I actually got 3 holes in one and beat him.
Then there was George, the radiology tech who accompanied us to the beach for a casual group date sort of thing. George seemed nice enough until a dolphin swam up to the shore. George had a deathly fear of dolphins. (Really? Dolphins? Is Flipper that intimidating?) He had a complete melt down, screaming for me and Sue to get out of the water and then insisted we all leave the beach immediately. SO we did. We walked back to the hospital apartments, dropped him off, and then walked back to the beach.
But I think the real clincher for the nickname was one unfortunate night at a club called "The Casino". (though there was no actual casino inside) On that particular night, Sue and I were approached by a guy who resembled a cross between Larry the Cable Guy and that guy, Ernest who was all the rage about 15 years ago. He came stumbling up to us, probably attracted by my fashionable clothing (pretty much everything I owned was tie dyed then).
"Hi" he said. "I'm Hank." His introduction came gusting out of his mouth in the fumes of his alcohol breath.
"Hi, Hank" I said, trying not to choke. "I'm Heather"
"Heather," he said, "I'm a pilot. Maybe I can take you up in my plane sometime."
"You're a PILOT? I sure hope you're not flying tonight!"
"No, not tonight. I fly all over, though. I fly to...Dallas, to um, Albuquerque...and, um to New Mexico.."
"You fly to Albuquerque AND New Mexico? Both?"
"Yeah. And to , um, Orlando, uh, Tampa, Miami, "
"Those are all in Florida. That seems safer."
"It is." Then Hank started heaving. He was getting ready to blow chunks all over the bar, the floor, me in all my tie dyed glory, everything! Nothing had actually exited his mouth yet, but you could SMELL it coming! And I was somehow paralyzed, unable to run away from Hank the drunk pilot who flew to both Albuquerque AND New Mexico.
Fortunately, the bouncers in The Casino were pretty quick. (Maybe they worked as both bounders and janitors) Two appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Hank under the arms, and quickly escorted him from the building.
Sue put her arm around my shoulders. "You sure are some kind of Loser-Magnet"