Contrary to what you may have heard, this story begins with a plane coming in for an emergency landing. Picture if you will, fire trucks lining the runway – ambulances on call – and pilots trying to calm the nerves of anxious passengers. The plane had a computer fault, one that made itself believe that it was still on the ground when it was very much in the air. This fault caused the plane to have to keep the landing gear extended; which on the surface isn’t a bad thing but could mean that the gear wasn’t locked out. There was a chance that when the wheels touched down, all of it would collapse and the fifty or so passengers will be at the fate of whatever result that comes.
The way Missy tells the story, I was just trying to avoid meeting her.
If Missy was correct, I got pretty good at it too. For nearly 10 years, I avoided meeting my cousin-in-law. Missy married my cousin Ed Tietel up in Minnesota that weekend I almost died (not to be dramatic but ALMOST DIED) in a plane crash. It all happened out of Wichita, who didn’t exactly have hourly flights to Rochester – so ultimately I didn’t make it up there. Then other family get togethers lined up against other commitments I couldn’t get out of (why my family is committed to getting married during fall band judging season, I don’t know). Ed and Missy made frequent trips to ‘The Du’, but only during times when I wasn’t there. Missy, a graduate of Minnesota State in Mankato, would egg me into random bets when my alma mater, Michigan Tech, would play them in Hockey … something that happens more and more as they become top of the the table rivals in Division 1 WCHA conference games.
Of course, as Missy started seeing a pattern, a running joke arose. Sometimes they would call when I was visiting my parents – which I would then take the time to ‘be out for bread’. You do it once or twice and you start doing it all the time. Like all the time. I mean, nearly 10 years this joke went on.
It all changed more on a joke played not on Missy, but on Ed. On one of those Thanksgiving visits to ‘The Du’, my cheapest flight was through Rochester. As it happened, their Minnesota State team was up against Alaska-Anchorage in Mankato; a two hour drive, but still doable. She hit me up, asked if I wanted to come down, and we decided to keep it a secret from Ed. Story goes, they were meeting friends of hers for pre-game drinks – she gets a call (from me trying to find parking) – leaves them to take the call – pisses off Ed – and he is stewing about the whole thing I sit down next to him. That night was a classic for me; yes for meeting Missy for the first time, but moreso catching up with Ed. I may have gone nearly 10 years without meeting her, but that also meant a much longer time without seeing my cousin.
Since then, we have had more chances to get together. More ‘in the area, come for a visit’ visits. It usually involves a few beers, a few hashtags (#cousinsgonewild #wheresvegas #tomnelson #whatsahashtag), and more than a few laughs. While sometimes there is planning, the better visits are done with very little. This Saturday, as I was preparing to spend a week in Cape Canaveral for conferences, they hit me up remind me that:
A) They were just an hour away for Daytona Bike Week
B) Michigan Tech was playing Minnesota State in the WCHA playoffs Sunday night
Couple of beers, a couple of bucks to steam a hockey game, and a couple of hashtags, and the night was complete.
So now, I don’t avoid them to get bread. Arguably, others get the honor of being the person that I reluctantly but consistently not hook up with (yeah, that’s probably you Greg Walker), but let’s hope that it doesn’t take a plane crash to make me avoid people in the future.