Magazine article Risk Management

The Cape Cod Curse

Magazine article Risk Management

The Cape Cod Curse

Article excerpt

Every summer, and sometimes in the spring and fall, my family vacations on Cape Cod, our favorite place in the world. For the last decade or so, however, every time we visit the Cape, some major catastrophe happens during our stay. September 11, Hurricane Rita and the Beslan school massacre in Russia all occurred during our family vacations, as well as a host of less serious calamities.

By the time we arrived on the Cape this year, we were practically bracing for bad news. And while nothing catastrophic occurred, Farrah Fawcett succumbed to her battle with cancer on the same day that Michael Jackson died. I heard one news commentator say that those deaths marked the point when Generation X finally grew up, as it lost two icons it had grown up watching. I don't know that I totally agree with that, but there was a grim sense of inevitability surrounding both deaths. Poor Farrah had been dying for quite a while and Michael, well, you just never knew what was going to happen with him. Had he revealed himself to be an alien imposter whose disguise had steadily broken down over the past two decades, meaning it was now time for him to return to his home planet, I would not have been any more surprised.

But when the loud-talking infomercial pitchman Billy Mays unexpectedly dropped dead, we started wondering if indeed there was some kind of weird curse in play that made something bad happen whenever our family set foot on the Cape. After all, Mays was only 50 and seemed in good health. We figured we had at least another decade of him trying to sell us weird products we don't need, but only if we ordered it in the next 10 minutes, because these things are going fast! Surely his death could not be natural--last time I checked, being overly enthusiastic about selling stuff wasn't a life-threatening illness.

See, the notion of a vacation curse doesn't seem so weird to me. When I was a kid, my family went on a Caribbean vacation every Christmas for about a decade after a string of years when there was a death in the family or a life-threatening illness every holiday season. Convinced we were under some kind of bad sign, my Dad decided that spending Christmas in the Caribbean would be just the thing to give the curse the slip. It seemed to work, too, and in the process I got to visit just about every island in the Caribbean, down to the last sandbar. …

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