Very superstitious: Tackling Friday the 13th

Last Friday Nov. 13 was Friday the 13th—the second-to-last thing I wanted to see on my Google Calendar. The absolute last thing I wanted to see was that I had an exam in less than 24 hours that I forgot about because I wasn’t checking my Google Calendar.

My mom is highly superstitious and my family and I always make fun of her for it. The easiest way to freak her out is to say “Bloody Mary” twice and threaten to say it a third time—you don’t even have to be in front of a mirror—or to tell her a black cat walked past you on your way home. If I say something along the lines of “I just had my last meal,” she makes sure I tack “for today” onto the end of my sentence.

As much as I laughed at her, I always thought it was cute in an old-fashioned way how superstitious my mom was. Then as a teenager, I found myself going out of my way to avoid walking under ladders, knocking on wood on a near-daily basis and refraining from opening umbrellas inside—I won’t even open one in the vestibule of a building; I have to really be outside to feel comfortable.

Evidently, superstition can sneak up on you at any age. In high school, I also began a ritual of “rabbit rabbiting” on the first of every month and making wishes at 11:11. When I started setting alarms for 11:10 to remind myself to wish, I knew it was getting out of hand.

To an extent, college did make me look at things more logically than superstitiously. Geneseo students tend to think pretty rationally or at least attempt to—especially the math and science majors and, above all, my fellow philosophy majors—and the philosophical way of thinking does not coincide well with the kind of thinking that leads people to believe some things are inherently unlucky. So I stopped making 11:11 wishes and I started feeling OK about spilling salt on the table at dinner.

I am, however, still uncomfortable on Friday the 13th. I tell people to be careful if they are driving or flying, especially if there’s a crazy thunderstorm or they happen to see a black cat that day. I don’t think it’s a big problem, though. A little irrationality can be healthy and Mom would be proud.