Growing up in the south, my dear sweet Southern mama held plenty of superstitions. She believed that tying a string around a rock and burying it under a full moon would get rid of warts. She cringed when anyone opened an umbrella inside. I’m pretty sure she thought wearing white after Labor Day was not only a crime against fashion, but likely to end in tragedy.
I’ve developed my own set of superstitions through the years. I am insanely superstitious about calendars. I have a page-a-day on my desk and forbid myself to look ahead. I won’t rip off the day until it is past midnight. In my planner, I won’t cross through a day until it’s over. I think it’s bad joujou to call a day over before it ends.
In other date-related superstitions, I believe that however I spend New Year’s Day from midnight on reflects how the rest of the year will look. This year, I found myself at midnight dancing with a homeless guy to Lady Gaga. You can imagine the kind of year it’s been.
A Pittsburgh superstition that I never came across until I moved here is the bad luck that comes from “splitting a pole,” when you’re walking down a sidewalk with someone. If both people separate onto either sides of a pole instead of crossing it on the same side, the friendship is doomed. Never one to violate the local luck gods, I’ve adopted this one.
I’m willing to risk life and limb for a lucky penny. If I find one face down, I turn it over for the next person.
I suppose you could also call my inability to get rid of a single book that I own a superstition. I actually do go back while I write to scenes I liked, favorite poems, or whole chapters that worked in things I have read, so they don’t just sit there unloved. Also, I could name every single book I’ve loaned out in the last five years that never returned. Because later I needed them for something. They are my precious babies. Separate us at your own peril.
So, what are you superstitious about?