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Grey Matter


Iím not Superstitious !

I grew up here, in Albuquerque, but the older members of my family, my mom and my grandmother were from rural Kentucky. As a result I grew up learning that there were certain things that bring bad luck, or are omens of some sort.

These are some things I grew up with - spilled salt, a pinch must go over your shoulder least you have bad luck. Never, ever, do you walk under a ladder. A broken mirror is 7 years of bad luck, nothing can really undo this one except maybe, if you are lucky, a lot of praying will help. Friday the 13th is bad luck and it is better to stay in on that day, least you tempt the fates. They would also knock on wood when something was said like ďwe are all healthy.ď Black cats are not unlucky by themselves, but if a strange one crosses your path then that will bring bad luck. I was once in the car with my grandmother when a black cat crossed in front of the car, she turned the car around and went in a different direction. She told me that she knew this was somewhat silly, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

My grandmother swore that clocks stop when someone dies and that she had witnessed this on a couple of occasions. Most memorable was her telling me the clock in their house had stopped the exact moment when her mother died, never to move again, no matter what they did.

My grandmother also had another superstition, I am not sure if it was something she had come up with herself, it was probably a known superstition where she came from though. I have heard from others that bad things always come in threes, but hers was that if something bad happens right before Easter then you can be sure that two more bad things will follow. They donít have to be horrible, like three people you know die or are badly injured, just things that are worse than what normally happens to you during the rest of the year. Last year I had a break, but this year, like many others that seems to be true. Growing up with this superstition when something bad happens to me I automatically think whether or not it is nearing Easter. If not, I breathe a sigh of relief. If it is, then I wondered if two other bad things will happen to me, normally they do. It is highly possible that since I automatically think other things will happen they do, but normally they are things I have no control over that I donít believe I could cause to happen. This year the first thing was that I found out my sisterís cancer had returned and that she would have to undergo chemo again. Second, James Bond (one of my cats) was badly injured when he fell from the roof or was chased from the roof and landed in a cactus patch. Third, my favorite pond fish, Marlon Brando, was taken by the terrorist Raccoon. Maybe some of these things donít sound terribly bad to others, but they were to me and they are more bad things then normally happen to me in the entire rest of the year.

So you have probably figured out that I still believe the three bad things at Easter, but at one time I didnĎt, it is just experience over the years that tells me that this often happens. Most of the others I donít believe, I gleefully walk under ladders, a black cat would not stop me from continuing in the same direction. I will throw a pinch of salt over my shoulder if it is spilled, but mostly because I think it is fun. I have broken many mirrors (what can I say? I am clumsy) and canít say that I have had 7 years of bad luck. I will sometimes knock on wood, mostly as a reminder to the Fates that I would like whatever I said to stay that way. The number 13, I try to avoid it as much as possible, even though I have never noticed anything particularly bad happening with the number 13 or on Friday the 13th.

I do have a few superstitions of my own though. Number one is that with the exception of 13, I consider odd numbers to be luckier than even numbers. This stems from my childhood, when I was playing games with my little friends I always seemed to win on a odd number dice roll, especially the number 5, but almost without exception an odd number.

I also feel it is unlucky to go out without wearing jewelry. I canít say why exactly why this is, but I just feel kind of naked and not right without it. Luckily, my nose is pierced, so there is always at least one piece of jewelry on my body. Still, I always feel luckier with lots of jewelry.

I also have more than a few Chinese superstitions. I keep bells on my front door to attract good luck. I have a small mirror at my driveway to reflect away the bad people who may think of stopping by. I use to keep three Chinese coins tied with a cord in the bottom of my purse to attract money, but I somehow lost those when I switched purses, so I need to fix that situation. You may have already guessed, but I do also have a number 8 in my wallet, just in case.

Yes, I have grown up in what we call the modern world and yet I have even more superstitions than my Grandmother. Is it due to my Grandmotherís influence or is it just because I feel I need a little control in these ďmodernĒ and frightening times? Probably a little of both, but I donít plan on changing, as Grandma would say - it is better to be safe than sorry.

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