Ghosts of birthdays past

In my previous post, I explained just how bad my 39th birthday was. I don’t want to remember it if I can help it. That’s not possible given my memory.

My last birthday party was way back in 1983, when I turned seven. It was at Showbiz Pizza, which was a competitor of Chuck-E-Cheese in the late 1970s and 1980s. I have reminded Rosemarie Renz (now Huguet) she came and I have thanked her profusely.

My 13th birthday (1989) was on Friday the 13th. I’ll never forget Emile Fair, a PE and science teacher and football coach at Brother Martin, needling me about how I was doubly cursed.

I spent my 20th birthday in 1996 at a Saints-Bears game in the Superdome. New Orleans won 27-24. It turned out to be Jim Mora’s last game coaching the Saints in the Superdome, and Mora’s 93rd and last victory coaching New Orleans. Eight days later, following a loss to the Panthers in Charlotte, Mora quit in a huff.

My birthdays in 1997 and 1998 (21 & 22), when I was a student at LSU, were pretty bad. In ’97, my father was on business in Brazil, and my mother came to Baton Rouge. It rained that Monday, perfect for the gloomy mood I had been in for all of October that year.

In ’98, I had a three-hour class the night of my birthday. I hated the class. I hated night class. I never looked more forward to my birthday ending, at least until last year. What is it about birthdays which fall on Tuesday?

I spent my birthdays of 2013 and 2014 (37 & 38) at Buffalo Wild Wings. I was alone in 2013 watching the NFL. Liz was not working that Sunday, and I didn’t know too many other employees just yet. It was kind of lonely. I drove back to Russell at night.

In 2014, Brittany and Lisa showed up with their then-boyfriends (now husband for Brittany and now fiancee for Lisa). Lisa got drunk and begged me to do a shot, but Brittany kept telling her I couldn’t because I had work to do the next day, which was true. I also got a couple of unexpected treats: Pam Reid, who is now a manager there, brought me cupcakes, and Alex Mullinax brought me a cookie cake.

In 2007 and 2012 (31 & 36), I was covering the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament. The 2007 tourney was at WaKeeney, and 2012 was at Phillipsburg. During the 2012 tournament, I did the play-by-play for Smith Center’s television station, and after the championship match, which the Lady Red won, the players, coaches and the players’ parents sang Happy Birthday twice. It got me a little embarrassed, but it was nice to know people cared.

I had to work on my birthday in 2000 (24), covering a football game at Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium between Zachary and Capitol. The next day, I was at the LSU-Kentucky game in Tiger Stadium. Sadly, the LSU Radio Network’s engineer, Tom Stevens, dropped dead of a massive heart attack in the press box about two hours prior to kickoff. Jim Hawthorne (play-by-play) and Doug Moreau (color) soldiered on and did the game, but with very heavy hearts. The contest was forgettable: LSU 34, Kentucky 0.

My 30th birthday in 2006 saw me all over the place. I began the morning at the Wichita Marriott, since I had to be Emporia later that day for the Class 4A girls tennis state tournament. I got there at 11 and stayed for a few hours, then had to drive up the Kansas Turnpike Topeka and backtrack to Abilene for Russell’s football game that night. I then drove back to Russell, then left Russell at 6 a.m. the next morning to get to Stockton for the MCL volleyball tournament.

I was in Kansas City in 2008 (32). Buffalo Wild Wings at Zona Rosa wasn’t open, but I did go to the one in Liberty. I brought my laptop and played trivia on a quiet Monday afternoon. It was raining that day, too.

My 27th in 2003 was a Monday, so I was in Baton Rouge doing my regular turn on Jimmy Ott’s radio show at Pocorello’s Italian deli and restaurant. I loved that place. I really miss it. I could go for a muffaleta or an Italian sausage po-boy right now.

My final birthday in Louisiana, my 28th, was almost my last.

Thirty-seven days after my birthday, I woke up with stabbing pains on my right side. It was hard to breathe, hard to bend over, hard to do just about anything. I had to call Robin Fambrough and tell her I could not cover that night’s high school football playoff game in Metairie between Plaquemine and John Curtis.

It got worse over the weekend, and on the Monday before Thanksgiving, my mother took me to her physician, Dr. Joe Johnson.

It wasn’t bad. It was life-threatening.

I had pneumonia and a collapsed right lung caused by a buildup of fluid. I was in the intensive care unit for a week. At first, it didn’t look like I would make it. I had two chest tubes attaches to my right side in order to drain the fluid. It left me immobile for nearly my whole time in the hospital.

Two weeks later, I was back home. Lesson learned. If I’m not feeling well, I had better see a doctor ASAP. Or else.

It’s time to sleep. I have a big decision to sleep on.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on October 12, 2016, in History, Personal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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