It takes a spot of courage to stand up tall and a bit of derring-do to rise when you fall

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Fourteenth Guest

So today is Friday the 13th. I'm always amazed at how otherwise perfectly logical people can have hidden superstitions they harbor which turn them into silly little scaredy-cats. I kid, of course, and exaggerate. Kind of. This idea of not marking the 13th floor of a hotel, for instance---not marking the 13th room: I don't really get it. As if, somehow by saying it's the 14th floor, everything's safe. As though the 13th floor is hovering somewhere, invisible, and the 14th floor just settled in to take its place. It's still the 13th floor, people. It didn't go anywhere.

Anyway, there is an "occupation" out there that I love the idea of: that is, the 14th guest. There's a French word for it that completely eludes me at this time (someone will know it, so please share). When there is a function of sorts, a dinner, and only 13 guests, this person---this 14th guest---is called into action. Can you imagine? "What's your job?" "Oh, I eat wonderful dinners and attend lavish parties whenever a 14th guest is needed." Where can I sign up?

I know there are people and cultures who are very governed by superstition or whatever word could be substituted. I don't want to be casual and condescending about that. I just don't really understand it, I guess. To me it's more than a bit fascinating to realize how much our imaginations can have power over logic. A seed of superstition planted can way outgrow any sort of logical reasoning held up next to it. And there are hundreds out there---for any occasion. You can check some of them out here.

My youngest son was born on a Friday the 13th. I have to say it gave me pause---and not because of any superstition but because I didn't want him to have to endure the round of jokes and comments. It'd be akin, somewhat, to being born on Halloween (which my middle child escaped by three days. Whew.) As long as he doesn't buy into the "don't walk under ladders, watch out for black cats" etc., etc., it'll be okay.

For the rest of you who do: good luck today! Best to stay inside. If you're lucky, like I am, you've got a really good book to keep you company.

15 Comments:

Blogger Meow said...

Hope your Friday the 13th went well.
Take care,
Meow

4:15 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger unca said...

From what I can gather, it's:
"quartormeme"

5:47 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger unca said...

Reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell about a famous scientist who had a horseshoe mounted on his wall. A friend saw it and commented, "Don't tell me you believe in that stuff." "Oh, I don't," he replied, "but I understand this particular symbol brings good luck even if you're not superstitious."

5:50 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger jay are said...

ha! exactly! it sneaks right in...

8:41 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger jay are said...

and unca, thanks for the word!

8:42 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger mreddie said...

I've heard it said that the harder a person works, the luckier they get - no matter what day it is. ec

10:44 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger bryan torre said...

My theory (which shows clearly my astuteness): superstition tames the chaos.
It puts a reason on otherwise apparently random chance.
It makes life -- which is essentially unpredictable -- seem slightly more predictable, which makes us feel better.

11:13 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger mamacita said...

I've been told that the number 13 is unlucky because there were 13 people at the Last Supper. But I've never looked up the source of the superstition.
I enjoy your posts very much.

11:15 PM, January 13, 2006

 
Blogger jay are said...

mr. eddie--those are good words to live by
bryan--your theory makes a lot of sense. We like to think we can control things over which we have, um, no control.
Thanks mamacita!!!

12:27 AM, January 14, 2006

 
Anonymous si said...

i recently stayed at a sheraton hotel and it had a 13th floor! i hate to admit that i'm not exactly un-superstitious -- i don't think that i would *choose* to stay on the 13th floor. but you do have a point when say, one counts the floors from the outside of the building -- there's "12" then you count "13", right? so now i'll have to make sure that i don't stay on the "14th" floor either! (kidding!) :)

my niece was born on thursday, the 12th, at 11:50 pm. my sister was really "pushing" (hah) for the 12th. but it sounds like friday, the 13th was a very lucky day for you when you received your very cute, funny boy.

12:57 PM, January 14, 2006

 
Blogger Crystal said...

hmm....we have a 13th floor in our building and whenever i see people getting off on it, i always think "whew-boy, i am sure glad i don't work on the 13th floor. what terrible luck". however, i work on the 12th floor so that means that i am only a floor away from "THE BAD FLOOR" so what the heck happens to me if the 13th floor craps out? yep. i am dead.

2:43 PM, January 16, 2006

 
Anonymous Nicole said...

I do have to say that I had not realized that this friday was the 13th, until it was mentioned to me on the 14th. I had the day from hell. The fridge stopped freezing,the dryer would not turn on, and there was a suicidal man in the parking lot of the hospital I work out. coincidence? or the curse of friday the 13th? Who really knows...
Sometimes I think its just a really great excuse to use when life is going to crap and you don't want to blame yourself.

11:24 PM, January 16, 2006

 
Blogger jay are said...

si, I do indeed think of the 13th as "lucky" because of my funny, crazy boy. It's a good number.

crystal, since that 13th floor is just floating there, you never know....

and nicole, I think you might be on to somethin' there :)...sounds like you had quite an interesting day!!

1:31 AM, January 17, 2006

 
Anonymous si said...

hey, i better comment so that you don't have *13* comments! :-)

12:18 PM, January 17, 2006

 
Blogger jay are said...

:) yeah, I was noticing the funny coincidence of that. Whew! Thanks!

1:46 PM, January 17, 2006

 

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