I like to think I have no superstitions, but I do faithfully observe some “preferences.”
For example, my habit is to put both socks on first, left followed by right, and then shoes, left followed my right. I wonder if the world order would be disrupted if I dared deviate. I can’t recall ever being gutsy enough to test another routine.
When the thought of something negative happening comes to mind, I’ll whisper “ESP no” to ward off the danger. Perhaps I don’t have ESP, but so far, it’s worked.
Finally, I sometimes try to predict how my day will go by tossing into a distant trash can the tissue used to clean my eyeglasses. If I’m on target, which happens maybe half the time, the day will be a good one. If I miss, I pick it up and keep trying until I swish it. Everyone deserves a second chance to make the day a good one.
Today, we find ourselves at another Friday the 13th. Unlucky? I scoff at the notion.
My official first and last names have a total of 13 letters. My wife and I were married on the 13th. Our son was born on 13th. Neither was a Friday, but the number 13 alone is more dreaded than the Fridays which bear its burden.
You’ve probably read that the fear of Friday the 13th is rooted in ancient but separate bad-luck associations with the number 13 and the day Friday. When the two combine, it becomes one super unlucky day.
Friday is unlucky in several cultures. For years, old-time mariners would never set sail on a Friday.
There’s a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died, and the Earth went dark. The entire planet mourned, according to the myth.
Several sources find a biblical connection to the unlucky number. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper, according to the explanation. Poor Judas. In addition to the label of traitor he has carried for so many centuries, they tag him with this, too.
A particularly bad Friday the 13th occurred in 1306. King Philip of France arrested the revered Knights Templar and began torturing them.
In ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil.
Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.
Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, and 12 donuts in a box — at least until someone opens it.
In exceeding 12 by one, 13’s association with bad luck has to do with being just a little beyond completeness, according to the pundits.
“A little beyond completeness” is a good description of where our discussion has arrived right now. On this 13th day of October, here’s hoping all your used tissues find nothing but net.