80/35 Song of the Day-ish – Leslie and the Lys – Hydrate Jirate (But Mostly an Essay On An Unrelated Topic)

In case you weren’t around for GDP, this will be my somewhat daily feature where I talk about one song from an 80/35 act to get you pumped up for the festival. This year, the festival is Friday and Saturday July 6 and July 7 in Western Gateway Park. Visit 80-35.com for more info and Midwestix for ticket info.

(So very sorry for not being around for the last couple of days, er, well, weeks. Just, sorry, I guess. Also, sorry to Leslie, but I don’t really have much to say right now about the song. Its great and I like Leslie a great deal, but I just haven’t been all that fired up lately. So, I’m going to talk about something else. Watch the video, buy your 80-35 ticket, go party.)

My oldest friend is a man by the name of Eric Runyan. Many of you may know him. He is the current and reigning King of Indianola. He is loud and obnoxious. He has a severe and almost despicable fascination with Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, The Pittsburgh Steelers and Duke Basketball. But, he’s my friend all the same. We aren’t as close as we used to be, which is unfortunate. Even though we have drifted apart, he was in my wedding and he was there the day after my daughter was born. I think we all have a friend like that, just someone in you back pocket that you know you can count on even though it has been years since you hung out regularly.

He, however, is responsible for a stupid superstition that I still follow all these years later. If you drive over railroad tracks, you have to lift your feet. It actually started on our bikes, as we would lift our feet off the pedals anytime we rode over the un-gated tracks in the industrial part of Indianola, risking life, limb and torn jean cuffs in order to make sure we followed it to the letter each time. It continued on as he drove several us to school with his school permit in his 1983 Toyota Tercel as we listened to his one cassingle (Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) through a Montgomery Ward brand Walkman and portable speakers (his dash stereo was non-functional) and scraped ice off his windows as we drove (as was his defrost). It even continued through his Fast and Furious faze as he drove his Cavalier 90 mph around corners and darted in and out of traffic. It continues for me as I drive my daughter in our economical Hyundai as I’m sure it continues for him as well.

The thing is, we really had no idea why we would do it other than “bad luck”. That was it. No specifics; just bad luck. It is the same reason I don’t walk under ladders or break mirrors or about a million other random superstitions. It is the same reason I forwarded chain letters when I was 16 from my AOL account. The same reason why I have an almost Turk Wendell-ian amount of superstitions for when I play hockey. I don’t know why, other than “bad luck”.

The kicker out of all this is my luck, in a traditional sense, is terrible. I am not a good gambler, I’ve never really won anything despite being at least above mediocre at card games. I don’t win raffles or contests. Hell, even in two decades of hockey I only have three medals (and only one gold) in any league or tournament I have ever been a part of. So, it’s not like all this random ass shit I used to do, like three laps clockwise, three counter clockwise, wrist shot to the right post, wrist shot to the left to start each warm-up or not wearing socks, ever really mattered. In fact, the only tournament I ever won was the one I had pneumonia, so I probably didn’t go through all the rituals just due to exhaustion and fever.

Today, I find myself with a personal mantra of “Why can’t I get a break?” I seem to chant it to myself all the time. I guess I don’t know what break I am looking for, but as I sit here with a job I hate and an overdrawn bank account, I wonder to myself “Where is all of my luck?” After all of these years of following strict superstitions, and well, here we are.

It dawned on me on my drive home last night from said job. I crossed the tracks at 100th and Douglas in Urbandale and lifted my feet, just like always. Then I started to think about all the crap I do that has gotten me nowhere in life. All the crap that I have done that has attributed to this shitty outlook I have right now, or at the very least done nothing to dissuade it. It was all worthless junk carried on by someone with a possible mental disorder. I followed all the rules; now, where’s my luck?

But then I thought a little deeper about it. I realized that maybe all the shit I have in my life that I love is the good luck. Maybe my reward for lifting my feet over railroad tracks is having a great family with a loving wife and kick-ass kid, but also my huge extended family and friends. Maybe the crap I did before every hockey game wasn’t to help win hockey games, but to make sure I have a roof and food, even if my bank account may be more than empty. Maybe the reason I lifted my feet at every railroad crossing with Eric Runyan was so I could have an Eric Runyan (or any one of the great people in my life) in my life.

I need to accept that luck, in and of itself, isn’t going to bail me out of my list of problems. I guess while I will keep doing the superstitions I grew up with, I have to realize what they got me and not lament what they haven’t. As for the shit I don’t have that’s ruining me right now, well, I guess I better just get my ass in gear, eh? Luck is great, but hard work is better.



  1. This is a great post . . . there’s a lot of profound in here. More than there would have been in a post about Leslie and Lys even . . .

    In a grad school ethnography class, I learned that rituals are symbolic actions that define a culture or a community. I liked that concept, since it meant that rituals specific to me, or to me and my family, or me and my friends, were just indicators that we had developed our own small, meaningful communities or cultures . . . worthy of preservation, conservation or observation.

    So who knows . . . maybe 100 years from now, some grad student will write a killer thesis about the rare and precious Iowa Footlifter Culture, and how their seemingly odd rituals resulted in them becoming kick-ass family patriarchs, blog czars, and music critics par excellence.

    At bottom line . . . I embrace my own weirdness, which is formidable and wide-ranging, as anybody who knows me well will attest.

    I hope you can embrace you inner weirdo, too . . . it makes life much grander once you do so!!!!

    • Thanks, sir. I could be awful profound about Leslie and the Lys, if I wanted to be…But yeah, weirdness is grand and I think I get more comfortable with it everyday. I think one day, I will just outright accept it, and man what a day that’ll be.

      Thanks for all your kind words, by the way. It is appreciated coming from someone of your stature.

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