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I originally had very different plans for this week’s piece, but alas, life happened. And as is so often the case, the column began to write itself. Once again I found myself faced with the daunting task of taking a traumatic experience, finding the humor in it, and crafting a story out of it for you, my dear friends.

It started early on the morning of May 1. I, like most other bartenders loathe the first of any month. If you’ve ever spent any time in the restaurant and bar business, you know exactly why. The first day of every month is inventory day. It’s usually accompanied by a thorough bar clean that comes fast on the heels of a late closing shift. I challenge you to find a bartender who gets excited about the first of the month – seriously that’s a challenge.

Despite my weekly musings here, I like to consider myself to be a glass half-full kind of guy, so when I make the early morning “rush hour” commute into Ocean City, I try to see the beauty in the morning drive. This particular morning was different though. It was sunny and clear as I left my neighborhood and got on to Route 90, but soon it took a surreal and eerie turn. A thick blanket of fog had enveloped the coastline swallowing everything. I actually said out loud to myself with tongue in cheek, “maybe I should call in first and make sure the town is still there so I don’t drive off the end of the Earth.” Shut up! I have some of my best conversations when I’m in the car alone. I never pretended to be sane, so don’t start judging me now.

But I digress…visibility was minimal, so I slowed down to below the speed limit and kept a keen eye. Something just didn’t seem right about this morning. Something was amiss…

Sure enough, my spidey-senses were correct. I didn’t see the massive deer come barreling towards me until the two of us locked eyes. Now admittedly, I don’t speak fluent Buck, and the window was up, but I’m almost positive he said; “oh sh#t!” Now if you’ve ever been in this type split-second, fight-or-flight situation between you and an oncoming deer then you know your options are limited. Swerving or slamming on the brakes will result in a head on collusion or a five car pile-up, leaving you with the sole option of continuing on your projected trajectory into the path of the deer.

The impact was forceful, to say the least. I can’t say with conviction that I went up on 2 wheels, but I also can’t rule it out. I immediately looked in the rear-view mirror to assess the situation. The car behind me was safe and clear, the deer had landed on the shoulder of the road, and by now I was on the bridge and could not stop. My vehicle seemed drivable and there was absolutely nothing I could do, so I continued on.

Let me stop right here for a moment before I alienate too many of you and clear some things up. The deer survived. Upon my return to the scene a short while later, he was gone, there was no blood at all, and the only remnants were pieces that were once part of my car. Now that we’ve cleared that up, lets get to the embarrassing part of the story, because let’s be honest, most of you are reading due to the aforementioned promise of an embarrassment of yours truly.

When I got a chance to truly observe the damage to my vehicle, I determined a few things. My front bumper, hood, and right head light assembly were destroyed by the animal’s head. My right front quarter panel was caved in by his torso, and my passenger side door was smashed by his hind portion. To add insult to injury, he left a healthy deposit of feces on my passenger side door. This nasty discovery led me to two conclusions. First, I could now pretty much tell how large the deer was. And second, that I had quite literally hit him so hard that I knocked the crap out of him.

I called my insurance agent who arranged for me to drop off my van the next morning and to have a rental car waiting for me. She was very helpful, and I thought the worst was over. The first hint that things were going to get worse before they got better was being told that the rental company was out of cars until 3pm. Ok fine, I can adapt, I had some errands to run with my wife and daughters anyway.

I returned shortly after 3 and the nice young man was excited to see me…perhaps a little too excited. He exclaimed, “perfect timing, they just finished cleaning your car and he’s pulling it around now. In fact, there it is behind you.” I turned around and much to my surprise and dismay sat a freshly washed, shiny, silver VW Beetle. It looked like it had come straight out of Willie Wonka’s goose. Apparently my insurance agent had mistakenly told the rental car people that I was a 17-year-old girl.

I reticently approached this Cadbury Crème Egg on wheels that was to be my transportation for the next several weeks thinking that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Again I was wrong. That’s when I noticed that it had New Jersey tags. I apologize to my friends and readers from the Garden State, but, well, it goes without saying.

Picture this if you will – you pull up to a stop light and next to you is a 44-year-old white guy in a grey Honda Odyssey with stickers all over the back window that reads proud parent of whatever the hell they did. He has that blank, distant gaze that only a father of multiple kids has. He has that completely defeated look that he seems to have accepted. You can tell that he’s merely a shell of the man he once was. You can see that at one time he was probably pretty cool, perhaps even a party animal, but now you actually have empathy for him. But there’s nothing creepy or shocking about him. That’s me, I’m that guy. I own it, I embrace my role. I’m the proud driver of a minivan and I don’t care what anyone thinks.

Now, imagine you pull up next to that same guy at a stop light, only now he’s sitting in a silver Beetle with Jersey tags. Precisely. I can’t be that guy. As soon as I sat in it I felt inexplicably compelled to go get a full body wax and hit the tanning bed for a few hours. Maybe tonight I’ll hit the club and knock back some Yayguhbawms (I spelled it phonetically for effect).

So somewhere along the side of Route 90, there’s a hefty deer with nasty headache and a cleansed colon having a good laugh with his buddies over the D-bag driving around in a portable piggy bank.

Thanks for playing along.

Until next week, Syd Nichols

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