A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Today is Friday the 13th, and even though I’m the last person in the world to willingly tempt the Fates, it’s my duty to set the record straight. There is no room for superstitions in our modern society. Science and technology have banished them from our world and driven them out into the limitless ethereal — where they frolic with dragons, trolls, banshees and goblins for all eternity. Luck, good or bad, is nothing more than a random set of circumstances. The gods do not control our lives (frankly, they’re not interested) and haphazard actions do not set the tone for the rest of the day, week or year. This is fact; let me demonstrate.
If you’re living on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee right now, you’re probably experiencing a run of bad luck. The Mississippi River has decided your farm needs to be moved to the Gulf of Mexico and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I don’t care how many pennies you found and retrieved, how many rabbit’s feet you have on your key ring or how many times you didn’t walk underneath that ladder, your luck isn’t going to change in the near future. Conversely, if your name is Mark Zuckerberg, you could hire an army of black cats to cross your path and never worry about it. You could spill salt, leave your umbrella open in the hall and break the mirror on the Hubble telescope — all in the same day, if you want — and it wouldn’t matter. You’re likely the luckiest guy on the planet. Point proven: case closed.
I think all reasonable people can agree that superstitions are absurd, and our lives are not governed by foolish folklore and old wives’ tales. There are strict physical laws in our universe that can be tested and proven. These laws were set down by the gods and Mother Nature in a time before time and they (and they alone) dictate the scope and skein of our lives. All the rest of it is just silly hocus-pocus, left over from a time when primitive humans did not have the extensive knowledge that we have today. This, too, is fact; let me demonstrate.
You should never hang a new calendar before January 1st. This angers the gods and they will visit their displeasure upon you for the entire year. It’s best to leave the new calendar in its original package until after breakfast on the morning of January 1st; then, hang it, when you’re safely into the New Year. This is prudent behaviour, handed down through the generations, learned and tested many times through the millennia.
Likewise, you should never propose or drink a toast in water. The gods demand that offerings to them should be made with strong spirits. Anything less shows disdain for their power. The gods will not look kindly on your invocation if you don’t treat them properly (quite rightly) and, depending on how pissed off they get, they could actually reverse your plea. “To your health” could become a very dangerous proposition, indeed.
Furthermore, never, under any circumstances, step on a spider. Mother Nature will not tolerate this. She will make it rain. And not some wimpy April-showers-bring-May-flowers rain, either; she will literally kick your ass with water. I’m not saying, and I don’t know who, but take a look at Manitoba and tell me somebody didn’t screw up on the arachnid front. The current state of the Canadian prairies is tangible evidence that the laws of the universe must be adhered to.
Most importantly, don’t be smug. The gods particularly hate smug people. For example, Tiger Woods thought he could get away with it, didn’t he? The guy hasn’t made a decent putt since Elin hit the wrong button on his cell phone and heard what’s-her-name leaving him bimbo-mail. Similarly, Mel Gibson hasn’t made a respectable movie since Payback in 1999. And Donald Trump, the definition of smug, has been saddled with that hairdo since before he was famous. The list is almost endless. The toe-sucked ex-duchess of something, Sarah Ferguson, wasn’t invited to the Royal wedding, was she? So be careful, the gods hate smug so thoroughly that even an idle word can rain havoc down upon you. The only way to try and reverse a random act of smuggery is to immediately touch wood and call upon the fox, cleverest of the supernatural animals, to help trick the gods. Maybe, just maybe, it might work, but for safety’s sake it’s best to remain humble.
Finally, the gods love sports and fair play. Nothing pleases them more than to see athletes and fans brandishing totems or following rituals to beseech their favour. The gods will reward the faithful and punish the transgressors ruthlessly. There is no other realm of human endeavour that so clearly shows the delicate and detailed balance of the universe, or the benevolent power of the gods. The New York Yankees are living proof. They win because the gods smile upon them — and their fans. I, myself, have an old and ratty Yankees’ t-shirt which I wear during the playoffs to honour the Baseball gods. This is not some childish “lucky charm” but a strong talisman that insures continued success. On the other hand, the gods hate the Red Sox. This is a known fact. They also hate the Dallas Cowboys, the Detroit Pistons and Kobe Bryant. However, they reserve their special, nasty junkyard-dog-hate for the Toronto Maple Leafs who they have cursed, for all eternity, for being smug. These are all facts.
So let’s forget about all these ridiculous superstitions – black cats and broken mirrors? As we have seen there is overwhelming evidence that the universe is controlled by real physical laws, not fairytales and folklore. And the gods do not interfere in our lives unless you make them angry. With that in mind and a reasonable amount of caution, you should pass a pleasant Friday the 13th and wake up Saturday, happy and unscathed.