Al Batt: Seeing image in a broken mirror is good luck

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

I didn’t exactly spring forward.

I’d moved my alarm clock an hour away, but daylight saving time still found me.

Daylight couldn’t wait for my alarm to go off, so it came without an invite. I was awakened by the sound of crows. It was a cawcophany rather than the common collective noun for crows, a murder. The crows might have been intent on murder. They had found a roosting great horned owl. Crows dislike owls because owls, unlike us, enjoy eating crow.

I put on my lucky socks (I’m lucky if they match), left the house and got into my car. It was going to be a big day. Every day is a big day. I got out of the car and went back into the house. I came out again, got into the car and left. I’d gone back into the house for two reasons. It’s good luck and I needed the car keys.

Did you know that it’s good luck to say “rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of the month? There are variations. Some people say “white rabbit.” Saying “rabbit, rabbit” is supposed to bring good luck for the rest of the month. Some adherents believe those words have to be the first words said aloud on the first day of any month.

Have you ever sat around a fire and had the smoke find your face? A friend, Pat Ryan of Janesville, told me that I should say ”white rabbit” to keep that smoke from blowing in my eyes.

Superstitions are important whether we believe in them or not. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a superstition as a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

A Grateful Dead song contains the refrain, “Trouble ahead, trouble behind.” We’re superstitious in an attempt to keep all that trouble behind us.

You’re superstitious if you watch for black cats and ladders on Friday the 13th, while avoiding sitting in row 13 of an airline or sleeping in room 13 on the 13th floor of a hotel. Many airlines and hotels have eliminated the number 13, even though we know that makes 14 the 13. You’re superstitious if you’re walking down the street (hopefully not 13th Street) with another when you encounter an obstruction, such as a pole or a lazy dog, that separates you, and you say “bread and butter” to avert bad luck. The other party might say “come to supper.” Or you could say “peanut butter” and the other person say “jelly.” You’re superstitious if you hang a horseshoe above an entryway with the ends pointing up so the good luck won’t drain out or with the heels pointing down so the good luck falls on those passing through the doorway.

Throughout history, when humans have met with misfortune, often due to mistakes or poor decisions, superstitions allowed them to blame luck, over which they had no control. Studies have revealed that stress makes people believe in rituals and conspiracy theories. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, an estimated 17 million to 21 million people in America are uncomfortable on Friday the 13th. A University of Hertfordshire study found that 74 percent of U.K. residents knock on wood or touch wood to avoid bad luck after making a hopeful statement and 65 percent cross fingers or say “fingers crossed” for good luck. That study found worriers are more superstitious than non-worriers and women more superstitious than men. A Gallup Poll found 13 percent of Americans cringed at the sight of a black cat, 12 percent considered walking under a ladder bad luck and 11 percent thought breaking a mirror evoked bad luck. Groucho Marx said, “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”

Why do people who aren’t superstitious continue to participate in them? Superstitions have been ingrained in our lives, and we’re willing to cover all our bases to achieve a desired outcome. We have to believe in impossible things. Superstitions help, even if they are irrational.

I believe in good luck. I don’t subscribe to morbid superstitions. Superstitions don’t bring bad luck. A polar bear in your bathroom brings bad luck.

Some people consider it bad luck to work during any week that has a Monday in it. Eating Lucky Charms each morning brings good luck to others.

I believe you should brush the teeth you want to keep.

And if you think you are happy, you will be.

Good luck.

Al Batt’s columns appear
every Wednesday and Saturday.