Key Life Events
In 1991, James began the sixth grade at University Elementary School. During this year he met Ashley Moseman and Nick Provenzale for the first time. James ostracized himself as the nerdy new kid, avidly playing the part of teacher's pet. Early that year, James was chosen to participate in a locally filmed version of "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego". Ironically, this selection as class participant for the local WWCSD so enraged Ashley that a potential friendship seemed impossible.
In 1992, he enrolled at Tri-North Middle School. While at Tri-North, he participated in band, and began playing the alto saxophone, into which he would blow a far higher volume of air than necessary to produce a pleasant sound. While at Tri-North, James also quit playing the alto saxophone. In addition, he participated in Spell Bowl both years.
In 1994, he first attended Bloomington High School North. In his years at North, James participated in a variety of different activities, including wrestling, Academic Superbowl, and his senior musical. During his junior year, before class elections, he spoke for his love of Dukes of Hazzard, and was elected as a class officer. A defining moment of his high school career came when his friends cunningly tricked him into loading 7 Skoal Bandits into his mouth and left him in Lower Cascades, too nicotine drunk to drive home. He graduated as a member of the class of 1998.
He enrolled at Carleton College after finishing at North where he majored in political science. His freshman year, James participated in varsity football, playing the position of offensive guard. He also participated in Cujokra, an improv comedy group much ridiculed by his friend Ashley. He graduated in 2002 with a BA and an intramural basketball championship.
James spent the next two years teaching English in Japan. Here, he met his wife Leena Patel.
In 2007, he graduated from law school at the University of Minnesota, magna cum laude, and is currently a member of the Minnesota Bar.
James married Leena Patel in the Charlotte, North Carolina immediately preceding the dawn of 2007. A traditional Hindu ceremony was held on December 30, 2006 in Matthews, North Carolina at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, while a Christian ceremony, combining elements of Quaker and Methodist faiths, was held at St. Mary's Chapel in Charlotte on December 31.
James' physique is sturdy and robust in a manner that would have been quite complemented during the Great Depression. Many who know him are unable to put their fingers on any particular reason why they could easily recognize this physique from a line-up of black silhouettes. Those who have undertaken more scientific inspection of his measurements have noted two key points. First, while he is approximately 6 feet tall, his inseam is only 28 inches long. The remainder of his height is composed by his exceptionally long torso. Second, when properly measured, his head is abnormally large. This is not immediately evident upon first meeting, however long time friends of James inevitably find themselves accompanying him hat shopping, at which time they discover, along with the unfortunate haberdasher, that hats in his size generally require a special order.
Inspired by a visit to the British Portrait Gallery in London, he once grew his sideburns to connect with his moustache.
His most recognized characteristic is the deep register of his voice, which often makes his words difficult to understand. Even as early as elementary school plays, James' voice was unusually low, and while in eigth grade his grade was lowered on a presentation because his teacher was simply unable to understand him.
Unusually, James often laughs in an extremely high pitch. In written language, the laugh runs the gamut from the typical "ha ha ha" to the more comical (given the low voice) "tee hee hee."
Since birth, James has been marked with pectus excavatum, an indented chest bowl known to friends as "The Bowl," a nickname to which James often answers. While he is often reluctant to discuss the bowl, he has also been known to allow friends and family to drink from the bowl.
Illnesses, Accidents, and Bad Luck
Throughout his life, James has been plagued by an unusual string of improbable incidents, both medical and non-medical.
Before moving to Bloomington, both his family's house and car caught on fire. The former was the result of a rag catching fire, but this resulted only in minor smoke damage contained to a particular room. In the latter incident, the family's car caught on fire while on vacation. The car was totalled, and a Dodge Caravan was bought that day to replace it.
While at Tri-North, friend Jordan Reed's 14th birthday party was held at the Aladin's Castle arcade in the College Mall. Shortly thereafter, James developed a severe case of hives that was later discovered to be the result of an allergy to chewing gum won during this party. He missed several days of school, and was due to return to school on November 1, 1994, but did not arrive. While his friends were concerned that his illness had worsened, in fact the same Dodge Caravan had been stolen as part of a Halloween prank. The car was later discovered in a ditch on Highway 37 between Bloomington and Martinsville. Following a cleaning, the car was still functional, but was missing most of its seats and the air-conditioning vents.
While at North, James contracted an unusual skin virus through contact with wrestling mats. While the disease was not serious, it resulted in hundreds of pox on his arms, each of which needed to be removed individually. Suffering from extreme boredom, his dermatologist experimented with freezing, cutting, and burning off the affected pockets.
During high school, he worked at the local steakhouse and buffet known as Western Sizzlin'. While serving as a meat carver at the buffet he made a deep incision into his own hand while attempting to make an incision in his meat.
During this time, James became famous for his unusual driving style in which he tried to "sense" the road rather than "look" at it. Passengers in his cars often heard the sound of screeching tires as he pulled in front of on-coming cars. On one occasion, James failed to notice a red light and drove straight through the cross-traffic at the intersection of Second and College. While alone one rainy evening, James' car slid off the road on N Dunn St near Griffy Lake, but was saved from severe injury as the car lodged itself on a lump of hardened concrete left in the woods near the road by construction workers. This lump of concrete may have saved his life.
He is known to pass out easily, doing so both during a doctor's examination of an ingrown toenail, as well as during the first time he put in contact lenses.
While visiting the Netherlands in 2000, James decided to go for a walk. Unfortunately, he chose to go for this walk late at night through a dark public park in the heart of Amsterdam, where he was the victim of an attempted mugging. After two individuals pulled a knife on him, he ran.
He is often known for "combo injuries," particularly involving bicycles. While in Ireland visiting his friend Chris Larkin, he got an eye infection due to leaving his contacts in during the 24-hour bus trip from London to Galway. The next day, on the desolate island of Inismor, the pedals fell off of his rented bicycle four miles away from the hostel. It then began to rain.
The most impressive combo injury began as a result of his participation in a powerlifting club in Japan. He developed a hernia, and was forced to spend his Spring Break from his first year of law school undergoing surgery. The first day after this that he was allowed to exercise, he fell off of his bicycle and broke his arm. He appears in the wedding photos of his friend Ashley Moseman wearing this cast.
Nicholsian Paradox: Instances of Good Luck, Coordination, and Musicality
James has exhibited a few instances of amazing good luck. He put money on a horse at Tralee because Mary B. Williamson was the only female jockey in a field of twenty, and he won.
Though recognized for frequent injuries of an improbable nature, James is particularly adept at kicking, and holds a black belt in tae kwon do. Similarly, he played varisty football in college, and is one of the most skilled yo-yoers to ever train in South Central Indiana.
Such cases of thriving against his element is known as the "Nicholsian Paradox," a prime example of which was his participation in his senior musical, "Crazy for You." Though untrained at dance and unable to hold a pitch, James was cast as a cowboy and featured gun fighter. When it was discovered that James was unable to clap to a provided beat during one number, the entire sequence was improbably rearranged around him, and he was put in charge of dictating the tempo from center stage with a hammer and large chunk of wood. Such is the Nicholsian Paradox.
During his senior year of college, a dead squirrel was inserted into his mailbox and in a stroke of good luck that no doubt saved him the shame of fainting in front of 50 of his classmates, a do-gooder had it removed.
Penchant for Living in the Mode of Aesthetic Experimentation
Historians and biographers have often noted that beyond a standard chronological approach to recording the life of James Nichols, an alternative approach focusing on the series of disparate interests into which he has thrown his very soul provides an effective methodology for exploring his most basic ethos. Such "obsessions" include the topics of space travel, Abbie Hoffman, tae kwon do (he reached the rank of blackbelt), semi-formal wear, stand up comedy, the yo-yo, and lock picking, among others.
When focused on the study of his genre of the moment, friends and outside observers notice his propensity to enter into a dream-like state where he envisions himself "living" the fad. For example, following an extended period of reading the works of Oscar Wilde, James often fell into extended daydreams of dressing himself in the haute couture of England during the late 1800s. He remains impressed with pocket squares to this day.
During high school, James seriously considered a life as a stand up comic, which terrified his mother.
On January 21, 2001, James Nichols declared his desire to one day be assassinated, but later requested that he not be assassinated for the sake of assassination itself because he did not think this would count as a proper "cause." He was quoted as saying "I think that Kennedy had a similar obsession that lasted his entire life, which ended predictably and successfully," adding, once he noticed his words were being recorded for posterity, "History, as we know it, is an ignorant f#(&."
James is known to eat anything, as long as it can served in large quantities.
James' culinary style can be described as "lots of stuff cooked in a pot," culminating in either a spicy curry or a spicy chili--both of which are delicious. His use of ingredients is democratic and generous, limited not by recipe or imagination, but by the contents of the pantry. These two specialties, the curry and the chili, are hearty, satisfying, and never less than 12 quarts in volume.
Outside of meals, he consumes copious amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and Dr. Pepper.
He was a water boy for the Cincinnati Bengals during training camp.
He authored a wildly successful series of "Detective Dog" short stories for The Carletonian, in which the protagonist was a pipe smoking, deerstalker wearing, Bassett Hound.
For the better part of a year, James introduced himself to strangers at parties as "Drew Ayers," among other aliases.
James founded the Twentieth Street Club, an organization devoted to touring Twentieth Street in organized groups. During one trek, he discovered an oversized inoperable television near a dumpster that he placed in the rear of his Subaru wagon. Several weeks later, he removed the television due to its unpleasant odor.
He cannot use cursive except to sign his own name.
James once co-authored with Chris Larkin an epistolary novel written on napkins.
While visiting family in Atlanta, James visited a book signing by Dave Barry. When he told the author he had come from Bloomington for the signing, Barry pointed at James and loudly announced to the audience, "This man has no life."