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Many of you are aware of the fact that March 12th happens to be my favorite day of the year. If you do know that, then you are probably cognizant of the reasons why that day is so special and important to me. In fact, about a year ago I devoted an entire column to explaining the significance of March 12th. I almost never read my own stuff, but I just went back and read it, and to be honest, I got a little choked up. I promised myself that the article would be a one-time thing and that I would not make writing about how meaningful the date is an annual event. You can only alter the verbiage of the same story so many times before it gets pretty redundant. Even I know that. And I’m as guilty of repetition as often as I’m guilty of using run on sentences. It’s kind of my thing.

So I had no intention of even mentioning the date this year other than a brief homage at the end of last week’s column. Then March 12th happened, and the events of that day were so bizarre that, as is often the case, this article just wrote itself. In fact, in the midst of the perfect storm of crap that rained down upon me that entire day, my wife tried to cheer me up at one point. She’s perpetually optimistic, and a terminally good sport. This wonderful woman who admittedly knows me better than I know myself said, “well, the good news is that next week’s column is writing itself for you.”  As usual, she had just the right words, at just the right time and pulled me in off of the proverbial ledge for a little while. Prior to her saying that, I hadn’t even considered putting the story you are about to read, to words.

Without going into great detail, I’ll briefly recap why March 12th is so special and important to me, and then walk you through the strange chain of events that comprised that day in 2013. It was one of those days that could only happen to someone like me, and only on a day that I wanted everything to be just right. To quote a very good friend of mine, “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I don’t know if he was the first person ever to say that, but he’s the first person I ever heard say it, so he gets credit for the quote. Thanks BR.

March 12th is my Mother’s birthday. I’ve written about her countless times and could continue to write about her countless more, but I’ll refrain, at least for today. My Mom lost her sixth bout with cancer ten years ago after posting an impressive 5-0 record. She meant the world to me and always will. I think about her every single day and will never stop missing her. The thought that she never got to hold her three youngest grandchildren will forever haunt me. This alone would be more than ample reason for me to celebrate the day with vigor.

Are you starting to see why this particular date is kind of big to me? But wait…. There’s more! By no accident or coincidence, on this date, I married the love of my life. Two years ago, I married the most beautiful woman in the world. I married the smartest and funniest person I’d ever known. I married an extraordinarily patient, caring, and loving woman. I married an amazing mother, and I married my best friend. Thankfully, as it turned out, these all happen to be the same person. This is very fortunate, because I had absolutely no desire to relocate to Utah, or the Middle East. I’m perfectly content right here in Mayberry by the sea. For the past two years, my lovely bride was pregnant on this date, and now she is uncharacteristically welcoming in spring while not with child. So I was very excited about making this day perfect. I wanted everything to be right. Keep that in mind for later in the story.

Keeping with the theme, this also happened to be my Grandfather’s birthday. Though he’s not been around to celebrate it for many years, I always thought it was kind of cool that my Mom was born on her Father’s birthday. Miss you too, Grandpop.

We’re not done yet. This is also my sister-in-law’s birthday. She’s yet another incredible lady from my life, and just as good a sport as my bride. She was brazen enough to marry my brother many years ago. If you’ve ever spent more than a couple of minutes in a room with him, you’d understand exactly what I mean. Though a decade separates us, he and I are cut from the exact same proverbial cloth; as is my sister who is fortunate enough to be exempt from this article. I’ll get her another time. My sister-in-law is so much more than just a default relative through marriage. She’s very important to me in so many ways, and always has been. She will never get lost in the shuffle that is March 12th. She’s amongst the many people who have contributed to making me a better person.

This year, there is another, less significant anniversary landing on this date, but still reason for me to celebrate. Depending upon how closely you follow this column, you may or may not know that March 12th marks exactly two months since a cigarette has touched my lips. I still haven’t cheated, and I’m still gaining weight. I’m pretty proud of it, but I promise, that will be the only self-promotion you read in this piece.

Finally, but certainly not least significant, on this date in 2013 my youngest will be exactly nine months old. Daddy’s lil flower is already ¾ through her first year. I normally refrain from using real names in this column, but hers is so freakin’ cool I’m gonna use it anyway. Happy nine-month birthday Fallon Avery. Daddy loves you. Unless my wife can find a very creative way to have me simultaneously pumped full of both Roofies, and Viagra against my will, this should be our last child—hence, our last ninth-month celebration.

Okay, now that you’ve been brought up to speed on all of the reasons why this day is special to me, I’m going to tell you just how that day went, and why it became print-worthy. Not at all out of character, it’s probably gonna get a little weird, but stick with me; I think you’ll enjoy this one. I mentioned how special I wanted this day to be, and I had several things planned. I had made practically no preparations however other than in my head, and how I visualized things going. It’s kind of like how I already have the next twenty or so articles already written. But then each week, I realize that they’re in my head and I still need to actually type them up. Yet somehow, miraculously, I can convince my half-witted self that I’m months ahead. I knew everything that needed to be done to make this day special; I just had not yet applied it. I had a plan. I made sure to take off of work that day. By that, of course I mean that I sent my buddy a text on Monday asking him to cover my shift on Tuesday evening because I’m a moron and forgot to put in a schedule request. Fortunately, he remembered it was my anniversary, and happily obliged. It’s not that I forgot my anniversary. Trust me when I say that no man alive is more cognizant of any date than I am of March 12th. It’s just that my life is so hectic right now, the first two weeks of March flew by and the day kind of sneaked up on me. Phase one was complete; I got my shift covered.

I’m going to use up to about twenty-four hours on either side of that day to fully illustrate the proper level of You gotta be shitting me, that I endured. I spent Monday mentally hashing out everything I wanted to do on Tuesday to surprise my wife. There are a few things that I’ve made no secret of, and if you are a regular reader, than you already know most of them. One of which is that I’m a huge Ravens fan, and another of which is that though never diagnosed, or medicated for it, nobody would be willing to bet against my having ADD. Focus is NOT my strong suit.

While mentally plotting ways to wow my beautiful bride and surprise her on one of the few holidays we actually celebrate that’s not completely about our children, I received some troubling news. While still enjoying the high of the Ravens less than month old Super bowl victory, I learned that my favorite Raven of all time had just been traded to the very team that they’d beaten. While I’m a huge fan, I’m generally not one of those guys who let’s his entire existence be affected by what his favorite team does. Those guys are idiots. My children will never have to be concerned for their safety simply because the Ravens, Orioles, or Terps lost. But this news really bummed me out. To put it in perspective, I made it almost 42 years without ever having purchased and worn a replica jersey of someone. I was always of the opinion that wearing a shirt emblazoned with somebody else’s name and number while screaming at the TV as if they could hear you was kind of stupid. The last jersey I wore had my own name across the back of it. I still have it in fact. If the book I’m working on sells enough copies, it might one day fetch a couple of bucks on EBay. After being a lifelong sports fan, and fan of the Ravens since they arrived in Baltimore, I finally found a guy whom I admired enough both as a player, and a human being to wear his jersey on Sundays as I watched the game. And now, after only two years of breaking in this garment from the comforts of my couch, its namesake is gone. I just glanced at my word count and realized that my ability to tell a story in my allotted word count is comparable to the Ravens ability to keep the team intact under the salary cap. I’m just hitting my stride on this story, and I have to wrap it up.

So, while that news was troubling to me, I was undaunted in my quest for the perfect anniversary. I was sad and a bit distracted, but I had to focus on what needed to be done—a process that evidently we’re going to have to come back to next week. Stick with me though, this story gets pretty good. When I pick up next week, we’ll throw bodily functions, bouts with gravity, weather anomalies, utility outages, time constraints, and all kinds of other stuff in. Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols

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