I know; I guessed things that start with the letter ‘K’ at first as well. However, surprise; that’s not the answer. There is a common bond between these things, nonetheless, but to find out we have to take a hot-tub time-machine ride back to the 80’s.
Marvel Comics produced a super-hero role-playing game around 1985. This would be around the time of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna…way before Nirvana; there was U2 and Blondie and music still on mTV. So, the setting is understood – good.
For those not familiar with role-playing games (outside your own kinky thoughts), they are a story-based form of entertainment where players act out or write their own actions as the script is generally plotted by a game-master or arbiter. It is much like impromptu acting, playing pretend with rules or being in “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” where the points actually matter.
Marvel’s theme in the game was to play out comic book hero stories similar to those sold on the comic book rack at the grocery store. In addition to the marketing ploy to capitalize on the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons at the time, it did have its aspect of imaginative fun. However, one of the rules in the game was called a “karma pool.” Each character would gain points of karma for heroic acts; these points could be spent to receive a bonus to the dice roll (increase the chance of success) if ever the mutant hero character needed to perform a feat of unimaginable proportion…as often done in comic book tales.
However, the “karma pool” was an advanced rule, used only by serious and organized gamers. To apply it, one had to be a member of a superhero team and be in the good graces of all team members. If everyone consented in advance of the die roll and a single member needed a positive boost to accomplish the uncanny act, then he could pool the points from all the other members of his team into a “karma pool” to be used as a one-time bonus for his action. Okay, let’s stop here before I start designing and explaining a character sheet.
Another event from 1985 was the car accident involving Rick Allen, drummer of Def Leppard, who lost his arm in the street-race-turned-bad. Technically the accident happened on New Year’s Eve, but none of us heard about it until 1985. Even so, the lead singer of the group, Joe Elliott, authorized the use of a “karma pool” to allow Rick to retrain himself to play the drums with only one-arm, using his left foot and a specialized drum kit to compensate for the missing one. And the “die roll” was a successful with his post-accident drumming debut at the Monsters of Rock festival in 1986 and the release of the Hysteria album the following year. (This is a rather amazing and inspirational story and truly an heroic feat of unimaginable proportion.)
Now, let’s fast-forward to 2009, when I attended the Def Leppard concert in Tulsa. It was not my first rock concert, but it was my first one dressed-up as an 80s rocker. It was unbelievably fun...and yes, more pictures are on my Facebook for those who must see. Anyway, what I didn’t realize is that by doing this, I became a member of the “karma pool” from which my points had been taken.
Of course, I don’t really believe this, but sometimes happenstance takes on funny patterns. Mine manifested around the 2011 Def Leppard concert, which my former fiancé and I jokingly referred to as the “Def Leppard curse.” I purchased the tickets in bulk for the same group I went with in 2009 and fronted the roughly one-grand personally with the promise to be reimbursed later.
Although we had only started dating for a few weeks, my girlfriend and I decided to go to the concert together. However, a few weeks after, the “leader” of the costumed-cavalcade told me she would be leaving the country for a business opportunity, which pretty much made the proud owner of several unclaimed concern tickets. Almost immediately after that, my girlfriend decided to stop going out with me, meaning I gained one more unclaimed prize.
Most everyone knows that I bought a new house about a month later. The tickets became lost in the shuffle, and I even convinced myself that I had inadvertently thrown them out while separately trash from important documents. Of course, within a week or two after this, the girlfriend and I started dating again in secret. Magically, I found the tickets and was able to sell the extras on eBay.
By July, we announce our engagement to be married, but more Def-Leppard tragedy occurred when Joe Elliot’s father unexpectedly passed away and the concert was delayed for two months. This nearly cost me my hotel reservation, but I was able to salvage that; however, it was a very stressful transaction.
A few weeks later, during a couple of days of confusion, where we had a disagreement about the direction of our future together, my then-fiancé and I both joked how we might never make it to see Def Leppard together and farcically blamed them our troubles. We did work it through and re-engaged our path towards marriage. This disagreement was not really a break-up, but we often referred to it as a “speed bump.”
So, with this whole dissertation behind me, I come to the point. When she and I finally did go to the concert and spend the night in Tulsa, it was on this day that noticed the handwriting on the wall which foretold the doom of our relationship. Without revealing details, let me say her behavior, her indifference, her stoic obligation signaled the obvious to me; ironically it was during the Def Leppard trip.
I’m glad I pressed the point and we could determine that she wasn’t really ready for the commitment. Had I not, we might have continued lying to ourselves and each other – and where would we be then?
Yes, I jovially blame Def Leppard for my break-up and claim they stole my good karma. However, the truth is the concert was a very important revelation. So, it was not a curse, but rather a painful blessing.