Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Shadow Dancer

You just know that one of these years - buried in the throes of an extended and especially hostile cold spell - that some sonuvabitch in rural Pennsylvania is going to create a point of harmonic convergence between the piece of Americana that made Louisville Kentucky famous and the one that did likewise for Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. And if you do not suspect that common sense and logic have already gone through the groundhog's hole as it were in rural Pennsylvania, take a moment to digest just what it means to be a member of Phil's (a/k/a the groundhog's) "inner circle". Einstein never envisioned the lengths to which the notion of relativity would be stretched to equate grown men in top hat and tails kissing the nether region of a subterranean varmint to "local dignitaries". Yet there they are - in all of their formal-attired glory.

My most favorite thing about Groundhog Day (at least the one that does not involve Bill Murray and Harold Ramis - will those two kiss and make up already so they can try to crank out one more funny movie together) is that it is not my birthday. It is one thing to share one's birthday with Guillermo Beades and Fran Tarkenton; one of whom is a very talented, hellaciously funny young guy with a bright future and the other is an embittered ex-jock. It is another thing altogether to be forced to celebrate one's birthday on a day made famous by an over sized rat. Sometimes the lawyer jokes simply write themselves; do they not?

I remain eternally thankful that Mom - who was dealing with her sixth delivery after all - did not simply declare, "The Hell with it! Take him already!" and transform me from an innie to an outie as early as her doctor apparently wanted to do. One could have easily understood if - on her sixth trip around this particular track - she had decided close was quite good enough and cut me loose at the earliest permissible opportunity. God bless her stubborn Irish soul. She saddled me with a name that ensured perpetual ribbing as a child ("Adam and Eve", "Adam Ant", "1 Adam - 12" among other favorites). At least she spared me the additional trauma of sharing the date of my birth with the one day a year that people react to a groundhog sighting with flash powder instead of buck shot. Now, if only my head had been close to regulation size. As far as I know Mom always pinned the blame for that on the old man.

While today in Punxsutawney will undoubtedly be the same as it ever was, Groundhog Day is not the same everywhere. On this very date last year I started my first day practicing law at a firm other than the one I presently call home and which I have called home since January 1998. And while it was an adventure, it proved not to be a great one. In fact it proved to be one that could have ended in disaster. But it did not turn out that way. It turned out in fact that when I believed myself to be totally screwed - at and by my own hands nonetheless - I was given a chance at a "do over".

Perhaps Murray's Phil Connors and I share a common bond; one which causes us to find some appeal in Groundhog Day - in spite of it and in spite of ourselves. A bond forged in the knowledge that not every man gets a chance to unring a bell - and to get a second chance. It happens far less frequently, in fact, than old Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow.

Once in a lifetime. And only then if you are truly lucky.


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