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Issue Date: December 2006 Issue


What Are The Odds?


Steve Gleydura
gleydura@clevelandmagazine.com

I lead a rather normal life: wife, kids, job, friends, house. It’s good.

But rare are the moments when my experience makes others say, “wow.” About all I can claim is a trip to Jamaica — for lunch.

My youngest daughter had been born the day before, and I left my wife and the January cold for a press junket that included six hours filled with jerk chicken, a white sandy beach, blue-green water and Montego Bay sunshine.

Let’s just say, the odds of me actually doing any of the events described in this month’s “Cleveland Experience” are about 1,000 times better than my wife forgetting about that trip.
But if I had to lay Las Vegas odds on the 14 experiences we cover, it might look something like this:

Write someone’s obituary: Off the board. While spending time as a copy editor at The Morning Journal in Lorain, I wrote hundreds of obituaries, though none nearly as good as Plain Dealer obit writer Alana Baranick’s.

Win a championship: 12-1. For the city, that is. No major professional team has won a championship here in 40 years. LeBron could end that for us soon, but the big-time oddsmakers have five other teams ahead of our Cavs for this season.

Streak (and get caught): 25-1. I’ve done some dumb things in my life, so there’s still a chance here. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way, though. The first being that if I did streak, the odds of me getting caught are 6 to 5.

Eat 5 pounds of corn: 50-1. In 10 minutes? No way. But pick out two-dozen well-grown ears from a sweet-corn field somewhere in Ashtabula County, slather them with butter, salt and a little pepper, and I might just try.

Hit a grand slam: 100-1. From the time I was in T-ball until I stopped playing baseball after college, I hit exactly one home run — but I called my shot. No, not like Babe Ruth. In a meaningless summer-league game, I grabbed a bat to pinch-hit, boasted that I was going to show the guys on the bench how it was done and ripped a fastball over the center-field fence. A friend was pitching, and I could almost see it going over the fence when it left his hand.

Repossess a vehicle: 200-1. There’s a better chance of someone reclaiming something I “own.”
Compete for a crown: 500-1. My only shot? If Burger King were to sponsor a pageant.

Fly to the top of the world: 1,000-1. I briefly pondered a career as a fighter pilot — or maybe I watched “Top Gun” too many times. But Kelly McGillis and the lift in your sternum as you disengage the ground still hold plenty of allure.

Give a grizzly a root canal: 5,000-1. How do you know a grizzly has a cavity anyway? Plus, I have no dental training.

Run a meth lab: 10,000-1. Lab was never my best subject. As a college freshman, I was a chemistry major. But it ended in a flash of recognition: I placed a crucible of isopropyl alcohol on a Bunsen burner instead of a hot plate. The fireball singed what facial hair I had and made me realize I needed a new career path.

Set myself on fire: 20,000-1. See above. (Given that, this might be the best bet on the board.)
Treat my own breast cancer: 80,000-1. This year, 1,720 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s about .022 percent of all male cancers.

Be abducted by foreign gunmen: 500,000-1. Though journalists seem to be a favorite target, I don’t even have a passport. Tragically, since 1970, approximately 16,000 children have been either abducted from the U.S. or prevented from returning by one of their parents, according to the State Department.

Hang by my skin. 1,000,000-1. Uh, no. Just looking at the picture in this month’s issue (page 141) makes my teeth hurt.

But in a way, that’s the point.

So beginning in January, we’ll give you a new experience each month as our regular back-page feature. Because it’s fascinating to examine the extremes in life or what it might feel like if you were in that situation — even if the odds are against you. n


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