I Am A Quantum Criminal

The First Essential Scary Truth

Friday, a friend sent me a Facebook message describing her passage into the realm of the Quantum Criminal. She was working in her kitchen when she whacked her nose on a heavy kitchen cabinet. Fortunately there were no broken bones, just the embarrassment any adult would have after trying to share the same space at the same time with an inanimate object.

I offered my cure for her predicament: Advil, whiskey and lying on a bed. She opted for cocoa with Bailey’s and an ice pack. Being a Quantum Criminal is a topic I have a lot of experience with. My nose has been broken nine or so times, mostly in wrestling matches but the last three times from rouge softballs. It’s embarrassing having to explain to every punter and their friends no punches were thrown. There was no fighting. No angry words were exchanged. It’s just something that happened. Of course, you never forget your first time.

The beginning of my sophomore year at NYU was interrupted by 1988’s version of the Swine Flu. That yearly flu was a nasty stomach bug that, once contacted, took nearly two months to go away. My symptoms started at a Richard Thompson concert in the Bottom Line on West Fourth Street the weekend after Thanksgiving. Rob Lawson and I had great seats, right up against the stage and the vibrations from Thompson’s electric guitar and the buzz of the accordion sent me flying into the bathroom.

My late friend, guitar player extraordinaire Bob Quine, happened to be in the bathroom when I ran into a stall and started vomiting. In between wretches, Bob lectured me about coming out to a concert when I was clearly too sick to attend. I managed to nod and throw up all over his shoes. When my stomach was empty, Quine grabbed me by the collar, threw me in a cab and sent me back to Brittany Hall on his dime.

Whatever it was I had kept sending me running to the bathroom over the next few days. I vomited so violently, I pulled several muscles including my left pec. At first I thought it was a minor flu bug coupled with food poisoning from the ever-atrocious dorm food. Three other friends came down with this bug the next day. 36 hours later, it seemed the whole dorm had the flu. We were all felt fine for three days and lousy for four through finals.

I was worried about my grades, not to mention my health. My parents wanted me back in Detroit as soon as possible. The only time I felt at all well was at night. The lights of the Financial District coming up over the Village were meditative and gave me a reprieve from the steel gray sky, not to mention my nausea.

45 hours before I was due to catch my train home for the holidays, I got up to admire the view of the World Trade Center from our window. The room was dark, the only light coming from the yellowing street lamps on 10th Street and the ambient fixtures in the office buildings three miles south. I caught the reflection of something shiny. As I bent down to find out what the shiny thing was the window crank caught me just under my left eye. I managed to make it back to my bed and lay there for half an hour before I dared to get up and see what damage had been done. Although there was no blood, I kept thinking I lost my left eye. Fortunately, all I had was HUGE welt under the eye and it was already black and blue – my punishment for becoming a Quantum Criminal.

I took my last two finals wearing sunglasses and sat in the back so I could run to the bathroom when the porcelain G-d called.

When I got off the train a day and half later, both of my parents were there to collect me. Mother was concerned about all the weight I lost due to my illness, although not being able to eat at Rubin Hall was a sort of blessing. The Old Man looked at my face from various angles.

“Are you sick because you got punched,” he asked. “Everyone loses a fight every now and then kid. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

I was too sick to tell him my shame came from violating the laws of physics.

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