If you’re reading this, then, like me, you survived Friday the 13th.
Thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number and Friday the 13th is supposed to be an unlucky day.
When you were born on the 13th, however, you tend to look at the number in a more positive light. And, when your 70th birthday falls on Friday the 13th and you’ve lived longer than any male in your family has lived since the 1940s, you naturally believe that it could be because you were born on the 13th.
If you’re like me, you may think that 13 is actually a lucky number.
I wore No. 13 on every team jersey I could. If “13” was not available, well then, “31” would do just fine.
But, that doesn’t mean I have a lucky/unlucky phobia about anything. No, not me.
But, I’ve known plenty of folks who do believe in luck, omens and fate.
“When your time’s up, it’s up and you can’t do anything about it,” a friend told me once. That’s a bunch of malarkey. But, it does cause a person to think. For instance, I don’t believe in fate. Let’s say, however, I’m on a plane sitting next to a passenger who does believe in fate. His time’s up, you know. Where does that leave me – just along for his final ride?
Having said I don’t really put much stock in fate, I do recall a pair of socks I wore to school one day during my senior year. That night, playing basketball against a rival team, we won a very close game and I scored in double figures.
I know the socks had nothing to do with our win that night. But, what the heck, mom wouldn’t mind washing them on a schedule so I could wear that particular pair of socks to school every day we had a game – baseball or basketball. That’s not a superstition at all, just a favorite pair of socks.
Of course there were a few other things that were just habits, mind you, not superstitions.
For example, when I was pitching a game of baseball, I would never, ever, let anyone but the third baseman throw me the ball after an out was made; I would never, ever step on the chalk when returning to the dugout after an inning.
Getting dressed for a game was another ritual. Always, the sock went on the left foot first. Then the shoe – the sneaker or the baseball cleats – went on. After that, it was time for the right sock, then the right shoe.
Silly habits, I know.
Archie Bunker would have gone mad.
Race car drivers are probably the most superstitious of anyone.
A couple of the more notable superstitions were the No. 13 and the color green. I’d imagine the number, as well as the color, were deemed unlucky after someone was killed racing that number and/or that color car. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that drivers in the early days didn’t wear seat belts (they thought it was safer to be thrown from the car than to roll with it) and had primitive helmets and other safety equipment. No, it wasn’t that – it was the number; it was the color.
One late friend of mine, Johnny Johnson of Burlington, was deathly afraid of black cats. It’s a well-known fact that if Johnny was on his way to a race, or headed back home from one, and a black cat crossed the road, he would turn around and go an entirely different route, even if it meant he would be late. For the well-known Kosiski brothers of Omaha, chicken bones are the bad omen. I’ve seen them in the pit area at a race track actually pack up and find another spot to park because one of the drivers next to them stopped at KFC on the way and was eating chicken at the track.
I’ve known people who are deathly afraid of breaking a mirror and would never walk under a ladder. They don’t open umbrellas inside, nor do they pick up a penny that’s on the ground face down.
That’s not me, though.
I don’t believe in bad luck. I don’t believe in good luck. I don’t believe in omens.
I just don’t step on a crack, even now that my mother’s gone. Most of the time I don’t look for a four-leaf clover and I only carry my lucky rabbit’s foot around on days we’re going to the casino and I don’t often cross my fingers.
To prove that Friday the 13th is, in reality, lucky and not unlucky, I devised a plan.
To celebrate my 70th birthday on Friday the 13th, I convinced my wife we’d never lose if we went to the casino.
Things didn’t really work out that well. Unlike others I know, I didn’t blame the bad luck on Friday the 13th. It must be that I forgot to toss a nickel into the wishing well on the way into the casino, or it could have been that I couldn’t find my favorite socks. Of course, it might have been that black cat that crossed the highway
Suddenly, I decided it was my wife’s fault. She wouldn’t let me turn around and go back for the rabbit’s foot I’d left laying on the table.
I hope she learned her lesson.