January 08, 2005

My battle with Murphy

I knew it. I knew it would happen although, I was hoping that my expecting disaster would somehow sway Murphy’s Law. By predicting it first, I was hoping to throw the entire universe out of balance, rendering the dreaded law of "If anything can go wrong, it will" redundant.

But Murphy’s Law did it again. I had just enrolled in a dance class - my first form of exercise since they invented the remote control - and was wondering what to wear when it struck me: I had this pair of cotton pants that would be simply perfect. They were light, airy, stretchable and created the illusion of very thin thighs. And the best part was, it has been in my closet, unused, since I purchased it a year ago. Brand new pants for a brand new me.

I should have known better. My pants were no longer in my closet. My mother patiently reminded me that I had stuffed them into a bag marked ‘YUCKS’ several months ago and had asked her to toss it out for me. I was devastated.

Eventually, my devastation gave way to amazement and almost a sense of awe. This Edward A. Murphy Jr. guy was a sharp one. It was as if he knew I would be looking for that pair of cotton pants a year later and had somehow convinced me to throw it out.

"If anything can go wrong, it will."

Edward A. Murphy Jr. had figured out our entire existence in one short statement. He had done more for us than any other scientist or politician. He had given us something to blame for our daily disasters.

In all honesty, how many of us can claim that we are able to locate our car keys every time without any trouble while madly rushing for the door? What about our sunglasses and important things like our ‘dancer’ pants?

"Mom, my sunglasses are missing! It’s Murphy’s Law at work again!"

"It’s more likely your You-Never-Put-Things-Back-In-Their-Place Law. Leave Murphy out of this."

It never ceases to amaze me how accurate Murphy’s Law is. For instance, it is uncanny that the telephone seems to ring only when you are either a) in the bathroom, b) in the bathroom or c) in the bathroom. You can be lazing on the couch watching ‘Whose Line’ for thirteen hours and the phone will refuse to ring until you get up for your Diet Coke refill. And it will not ring again - at least not until your bladder kicks up a fuss.

Murphy’s Law is in its element when it comes to queues. You are queuing up to pay for your miserly can of beans. Is it your imagination or is your line moving slower than a snail bouncing uphill on its head? "Look at that other line," you think. "Customers just shooting off like rockets." You spy a counter with only one customer and stealthily, you slip over to her line only to discover that she has enough food in her cart to feed the entire continent of Europe for a week.

If that little supermarket story runs chills of recognition up your spine, you should know that Murphy’s Law in traffic is even deadlier. Victims find themselves swerving in and out of lanes in feeble attempts to land in the mystical ‘fast’ lane, unwilling to accept that whichever lane you are not in will inevitably move faster than the one you are in. Murphy outwits us once again.

Now off the roads and into the shopping malls. For most women, this is both a pleasurable and tortuous experience. Tortuous because this is where the Law is the cruelest, reveling itself in female grief. You purchase a gorgeous dress only to find it on the 80% discount rack two weeks later. You finally find the perfect pair of shoes just to have your heart smashed with the most painful words a woman can hear: "Sorry miss, no size."

And this brings us back to my latest brush with Murphy’s Law - the ‘dancer’ pants incident. I have decided to toe the line. I am through living the defeated life, powerless in the hands of Murphy Jr. So I take every precaution I can to beat it: I place my car keys in the key cabinet, put my sunglasses on my bureau and resist bathroom breaks altogether. I keep to my lane during rush hour, queue obediently at the supermarket checkout counter, purchase clothing only during sales and have resorted to squeezing my feet into a pair of size 5 instead.

I am happy to report that Murphy’s Law has eased up on me somewhat. However, I now seem to have several other matters to attend to: my car refuses to start, the lens of my sunglasses has popped off and I seem to have developed a bladder problem. In traffic, the car in front of me breaks down, the woman before me at the supermarket queue gets her credit card stuck in the machine, a ban is declared on sales and I have a serious case of foot cramp.

Aahhh…the sweet smell of victory.

Now, to contend with another one of Murphy’s Laws: every solution breeds new problems. But first things first, will you excuse me while I nurse my feet?

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