Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is it Friday (the 13th) Already?

by Kerry Blair

I’m having a very difficult time coming up with a blog today. I think it’s because it’s Friday the 13th. It is, in fact, the second of three this year. According to some people, this makes 2009 the least-lucky year of the decade.

My grandmother was one of those people. She rarely left the house on a Friday the 13th; depending on the day’s numerology and/or horoscope forecast, she might not have left her bed. She was possibly the most superstitious woman this side of the Middle Ages.

Sometimes, as fetishes go, Gram's superstitions were charming. I spent many happy hours on the front lawn helping her search for four-leaf clovers to take to bingo night. (Thank goodness we could buy her rabbits’ feet keychains from a day-glo display at T, G&Y.) I loved the horseshoes over every door—each affixed to resemble a U so the luck didn’t drip out and make a mess. It was easy to avoid ladders since I feared heights, and mirrors since I feared my reflection even more. These days I still toss spilled salt over my left shoulder to blind Satan, and knock on wood to summon the help of tree faeries. I have to admit, however, that as I have grown older I have found Satan harder to blind and wood faeries harder to attract. (Perhaps the latter are merely annoyed. It would irritate me if people knocked on my house all hours of the day and night for centuries on end.)

Other times my grandmother’s superstitions have been a pain. Literally. I have practically broken my own back avoiding cracks and picking up pennies. I’ve never passed a wishing well without emptying my pockets. (In fact, I have begged on the street exactly once in my life, and only out of desperation. I really, really, really needed a penny.) I’ve even discussed with a full-grown Marine (when we both knew better) if a bird in a Humvee in Iraq could be the same "omen" as a bird in my grandmother's house. (The answer is no. That mission went without incident, except that I worried more than I should have.) Don’t tell me insanity isn’t genetic. I have proof.

Thirteens were the worst in my grandmother’s book. (Of silliness.) She held NASA responsible for disaster for merely considering a 13th Apollo mission. On the other hand, she had no truck with “fakers” either. You know who I mean: the skyscrapers that “skip” the 13th floor, the hotels that eliminate the 13th room, and the airports without a Gate 13 anywhere to be found. I ask you, who do they think they’re fooling? Certainly not my grandmother. In the last days of her life, battling cancer and too ill to recognize family, she nevertheless noted right off that the hospital tried to put her in Room 814. She would never stay in a room with a 14 in it for fear it was a trap. “You can call a pig a princess,” she would say, “but it’s still a pig.” (I’m not sure how that relates, but she said it so often I felt compelled to throw it in.) In this case, Room 814 was worse than tomfoolery. Add up the numbers. Now you understand the shrill screaming that was likely heard in the next block . . . and the next life. My grandmother died peacefully down the hall a few days later. It was a Friday, but certainly not the 13th. She’d have waited until Saturday if she’d had to.

Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia, depending on if you trust AOL or Yahoo. (Tip of the Day: when it really matters, trust neither.) Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13. Apparently, my grandmother was not the only sufferer. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and never hosted 13 guests (or multiples thereof) at a meal. Napoleon, President Herbert Hoover, and Queen Victoria were also said to be triskaidekaphobic.

I wasn’t . . . until today. It’s obviously a very unlucky day to blog. Will somebody please wrap this thing up for me? Tell me your superstitions. Do you have lucky socks? A favorite number? A ritual you won't leave the house without performing. (Remember this is a family blog.) And don't anybody dare slink away, I simply won't believe you've never made a wish on a birthday candle or waited for the first star at twilight.

Or is it just me?


At 3/13/2009 12:22 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/13/2009 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fun blog Kerry.
I don't know if you would call this a superstition or not, but I have found that if there is a calling in the ward that you really really really never want to get, you never utter those words out loud, or it is sure to be yours within a very short time. LOL! (I'm not the only one - I've heard plenty of people say this...)

Coincidentally, my children have all claimed Friday the 13th to be lucky for our family, since it is the other 365 days that seem to be unlucky.

Thanks for the smile!

At 3/13/2009 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love wishing on stars with my kids. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight . . .

And who doesn't do birthday wishes?

I guess the superstition that I've talked about before is if a bird crashes into your window, someone in your family, extended or immediate, is going to die. Or if all the cows in a field are lying down, it's going to rain. But, if we're going with animal themes I liked your grandmother's, you can call a pig a princess. I think I'm going to start using that one! :)

Great blog, Kerry. As usual.

Julie B

At 3/13/2009 1:02 PM, Blogger Shanda- said...

Loved this post, Kerry!

I've never suffered from triskaidekaphobia. In fact, thirteen is my lucky number.

I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. Played my best wearing the jersey with #13 (no one else wanted to wear it anyway, lol). I even got married on Friday the 13th and endured a number of warnings about my marriage being doomed, etc. This year we'll celebrate our 13th anniversary :).

I still throw salt over my left shoulder & knock on wood. Mostly for fun, but you never know...

Shanda :)

At 3/13/2009 1:09 PM, Blogger Just_Me said...

I didn't even realize the date until you mentioned it.

So far everything is fine... except for the toddler grazing through the herb garden and trying to eat my oregano. That can't be normal.

At 3/13/2009 1:18 PM, Blogger Shanda- said...

Ha! I just looked ahead to find out when our anniversary falls on Friday the 13th next and would you believe it's in the year 2013?


Shanda :)

At 3/13/2009 1:26 PM, Blogger Doug Johnston said...

I count everything. Telephone poles, tiles on the floor, how many steps I take etc. Some people think I am crazy for doing it.

At 3/13/2009 1:52 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Cute blog, Kerry. I've never considered myself superstitous, but I've gone through stages where it seemed my favorite team could only win if I wasn't watching. As a child I avoided cracks in the sidewalks, hunted for four-leaf clovers, and wished on the evening star. I don't wish on birthday candles any more; infact, I avoid birthday candles altogether. They've become a nasty age reminder.

At 3/13/2009 1:56 PM, Blogger MyDonkey Five said...

Fun blog. I remember holding my breath when we would drive by cemetaries as a child, avoiding black cats and cracks on the sidewalk, and never telling anyone my birthday wish so it would come true. I still like only even numbers and am upset one of my kid's birthdays is on an odd number date. No wonder she is the most difficult one of the bunch!

At 3/13/2009 2:40 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Friday the 13th was always my favorite day when I was a teenager. I loved it. Wore my fav clothes, always skipped school that day and never got caught, did fun and exhilarating things all day. As a parent, I'd always do really fun things with my kids on that day. I guess I'm a little backwards that day.

I can't really think of any superstitions, but I am afraid of vampires and werewolves. Does that count? :)

At 3/13/2009 3:28 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Well, if you have a Friday the 13th in February, and it's not a leap year, guess what you get in March?


Every time. =)

Our gaming group has all sorts of superstition-type things they associate with dice. Always roll it on the book, keep it in a container until needed, roll these together for synergy.

Not walking under a ladder is just common sense, though. =)

At 3/13/2009 4:34 PM, Blogger Kelsi Rose said...

I have a couple. Bad news comes in threes. If you go over railroad tracks, hold your breath and touch a screw and you get a wish. I also hold my breath when going through tunnels, but that may be because my brothers and I would on car trips to see who could hold their breath the longest.

At 3/13/2009 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friday the 13th has always been my favorite day, and you say I get to have three this year? I knew this was going to be a special year for me. Knock on Wood!


At 3/13/2009 11:02 PM, Blogger lachish said...

Kerry, your comment is the "missing hotel floor comment". Because yours doesn't count, MINE is the TRUE 13th comment. Thought you could sneek that one by us all, eh!

What a fun post! This blogsite is one of my favorites. I really enjoy everyone who posts here, but I must tell you: Friday is my most favorite day. Don't tell Robison.

At 3/15/2009 3:34 PM, Blogger Noble M Standing said...

The Little america hotel in SLC has floors 1-12 and then 14 + we spent our honeymoon on the "thirteenth floor" although our room number was 14 something.

I am not superstisious, my husband is the most real life, non superstisious person I know. But that doesn't mean I don't believe in some not normal things.

I can influence street lights and do other things like drain phone batteries and kill watches. Perhaps I am too busy those other things to worry about the number thirteen.

At 3/24/2009 2:19 PM, Blogger LexiconLuvr said...

I love Friday the 13th. It's my lucky day for sure. I was born on a 13th so I sort of forced it to be my lucky day. I feel that same way about most superstitions. I forced myself not to believe in them so I wouldn't be afraid of them. Go figure that I'm afraid of about a million other things. ;)

Your grandmother sounds like one of the most unique and fun people. I'm sure she was a delight in your life. And I loved the "middle ages" comment. =]


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