a blogumn by Ryan Dixon



288px-Cassandra1The NFL playoffs are starting this weekend without the Pittsburgh Steelers. No matter how you look at it, the evidence is pretty clear: It’s all my fault.

During the course of the NFL’s regular season I used a section of each week’s Fierce Anticipation to disparage the home city of the Steelers’ opponent. For a while this tactic worked like a charm– halfway through the season the Steelers were 6-2 and looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Then came the Cincinnati Curse.

Under most normal conditions, I wouldn’t have had any problem with making fun of Cincinnati, but this particular game was coming only three weeks after the Steelers played the Cleveland Browns and my blogumn devoted to the evisceration of that city–in which I had posted a selection of YouTube clips revolving around Cleveland’s many ignominious and heartbreaking sports defeats– was so depressing that it managed to elicit sympathy from even die-hard Cleveland haters like my roommate Joe. Since Cincinnati was nothing more than a second rate Cleveland, I had a crisis of conscious about once again picking the low-hanging fruit off the tree of Urban America.

In the end though, I decided to go through with it. Why? To fully understand my thinking, we have to take a brief journey back in time to my adolescence….

Growing up, I lived near a family called the Fitzgibbons.* They were altogether poor and unsanitary. Also, the males of the family shared an estimable talent for deep-sea nose picking. To get a better idea of what they were like, just picture the Klopeks, that Satan-worshiping-serial killing brood from the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy, The ‘Burbs and multiply them by ten as Fitzgibbon spawn seemed to fill every grade level of our school.**

The Fitzgibbons were the unifying centerpiece of everyone else’s mockery. Geeks, jocks, nerds, voc-techers, and short busers– the entire student body of our school made fun of the Fitzgibbons. The imaginative epoch of this derision were “Fitz Germs,” a communicable disease that could be transmitted by either having physical contact with a Fitzgibbon or by being touched by someone already infected. There were only two ways to avoid “Fitz Germs”: by crossing your fingers when someone attempted to infect you or by having a healthy individual “spray” you with the invisible vaccine.

Was this game awful, mean-spirited and in poor taste? Yes. Did I keep playing it with my friends throughout elementary and middle school despite my own pre-pubescent liberal guilt and the fear that I might be paving my own expressway to Hell? You betcha. And why did I keep doing it? Just like Cincinnati, making fun of the Fitzgibbon’s was just too easy to pass up.

The instant my anti-Cincinnati blogumn was posted this past November, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that my actions would cause irrevocable harm to my beloved Black ‘n Gold, and my fears were realized two days later when the Steelers lost to the Bengals 18-12.

Despite this Cassandra-like warning, I proceeded to mock each additional city on the schedule, and the Steelers kept losing. In the blink of an eye, 6-2 became 6-6. It was at this point that I realized the Gods had cursed me with the power of the Reverse Hex. Every time I predicted the Steelers would win, they lost.

In a last-ditch effort to save Pittsburgh’s season, I gave up writing about the opposing team’s city, and, lo and behold, the Steelers went on a three-game winning streak and ended the season with a record of 9-7. They missed the playoffs (barely), but at least they (and their fans) were spared the ignominy of having a losing season.

Now, in an effort to redeem myself for single-handedly ruining the Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 season, I’ve decided to use my dark powers for good and put a reverse curse on all the people, places, and things I wish ill upon in 2010, by wishing them the best.

And so, dear readers, I present you my infallible, certain-to-come true, predictions and prognostications for 2010:

(NOTE: On a purely self-indulgent whim, I’ve decided to write my predictions in the style of Larry King’s late and much-mocked USA Today column. For those of you unfamiliar with Larry King in any previous role other than his current one as the world’s first animatronic/human hybrid interviewer, King’s column was a weekly feature in USA Today’s purple “Life” section. It consisted of one long paragraph filled with King’s stream-of-conscious thoughts, which were separated by enough ellipses to feed all the starving children of Africa. Trust me, if starving kids in Africa could eat ellipses, Larry King would own a Nobel Peace Prize.)

The Dallas Cowboys will win the Super Bowl… Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire will win the Best Picture Oscar and go down as a singular artistic triumph and NOT as a serious contender to rival Mommy Dearest for the title of “Greatest Camp Classic of All-Time”…All of my exes will find happiness…Jesus will surprise everyone and show up right before the new season premiere of Project Runway, stealing the thunder from the show’s return to New York…Soccer will become America’s #1 sport…My hair will turn completely gray before Labor Day….I will be Patrick Stewart-level bald by Thanksgiving…the GOP will successfully avoid any and all scandals involving little boys and bathroom stalls…Critics will re-think the oeuvre of Brett Ratner and christen him a Latter-Day Eisenstein…All of my friends will have more success than I…Cincinnati and Cleveland will have something to cheer about…Stephen King will run out of ideas…Creationists will score a victory when paleontologists discover a very large dog collar attached to the fossil of an Apatosaurus, proving we humans did indeed hang out with dinosaurs… McDonald’s will NEVER bring back the McRib…Health care reform will NOT pass…My upcoming graphic novel Hell House: The Rapture (co-written with Chad Feehan) will not sell one single copy… People will keep on watching reality TV…Facebook will start switching its design every other week…William Shatner will retire…I will NEVER have more than 50 followers on Twitter…The Federal government will outlaw gay marriage…A past “hook-up” will continue to send me three 2,000 word vaguely threatening emails each week–a year and a half since we broke up…the Steelers will NEVER win another Super Bowl.**

So let it be written, so let it be (hopefully not) done.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

**It should be noted, for legal purposes, that to the best of my knowledge, the Fitzgibbons were not Satan-worshipping serial killers, but devout Catholics. So Catholic, in fact, that one of the ever-present rumors that swirled around the family was that they were actually very wealthy and that their impoverished mien was due to the patriarch giving all of their income to the local Catholic Church.

**If you have any additional Reverse Hexes you’d like me to include in my 2010 predictions, please feel free to include them in the comments section below.