Superstitions and Phobias

Step on a crack break your mother’s back. Cut your nails on Monday you cut them for news. Cut them on Tuesday for a pair of new shoes. Wednesday child is full of woe….

It might (?) amuse you to know very few of these bottom-ingrained superstitions are universal. In fact at this point, if they apply across two or more cultures, I prick up my ears and wonder if there’s something to it.

The first one was completely bizarre to me because, being an Odd kid, I’d developed a method of walking that avoided all cracks. Not for any specific reason, more of a way of keeping anxiety at bay by concentrating on something that called my attention. Like counting, or something like that. Because I’d been doing it since I was five or so, it had become second nature.

So imagine my surprise when my host-brother, when I was an exchange student at 18, suddenly blew up at me with “you know it doesn’t really break your mother’s back, right?”

I had no clue what he was talking about and considered running. Because, you know, I knew about Americans. I’d watched TV. So I knew he was on crack, or whatever was popular in the eighties, to come up with such a non-sequitor.

Took a while to figure out what was in his head.

And, by the way, of course none of us believe in that sort of thing. OF course not. At least if we’re not completely nuts. But it does run through the mind. And you really can’t get me to clip my nails on a Friday, because what’s the point of taking risks.

And yes, if I spill wine on the table, at a party, the phrase “there’s a great joy coming” runs through my mind, because that’s the Portuguese belief.

All this as part of an apology for being so ridiculously late. You see, I woke up with the bedspread covered in poo. Havelock cat, who, if he were an Asterix character would have usurped the name Unhygienix, had issues apparently. I mean, HOW does he get poo on the SIDE of his body? As younger son told me, while we were bathing the cat “takes talent, cat.”

And since Havey is at least part maybe full Turkish Angora, his fur is like sponge, and washing it is….

Anyway, we chased this amiable dunce of a cat through the house (he is now hiding) grabbed him, bathed him, dried him as much as he’d let us, and he’s now sulking somewhere or maybe rolling in clumpable litter. Which is okay, because I’ve ordered a shaver and I stand ready and willing to make him a faux sphinx

But as I removed the smelly bedspread, I thought “you know in Portugal if you have to clean a lot of sh*t you have a sum of money coming.”

All I can say is that I look forward to my lottery win, because no, the GoFundMe is not enough to explain the quantity of pooh I had to deal with already today. Also, it’s supposed to come before.

Looks at pooh cat prints on bedroom floor.

Well, anyway… I’m going to shop for my beach house and my yacht. This much pooh cannot fail.

45 comments

  1. and he’s now sulking somewhere or maybe rolling in clumpable litter

    …at least you’d know he’s not being malicious about it?

    K, doesn’t help me with the poo-prints from equally innocent child, either.

    (I am restraining the mommy impulse to now do an in-depth discussion of poo. I think it’s triggered by pregnancy hormones, women who’ve had children seem to magically become able to hold up the other end of HOURS of discussion of poo. I have thus far not commented on the probable color of someone’s poo when I see them drinking synthetic grape drinks except for when THEY brought it up, in a health panic, because their toilet had neon green in it. Yes, I do want a medal.)

    ********

    I’m trying to work Silly Superstitions into a space story I’m working on– with some folks having notably different luck because they’re going off of different silly things, and it mostly noticed because the Political Officer is ignorant, but not stupid, malicious or bad at her job.

    1. Once conned college roommate into drinking all the juice off a can of beets. Next morning, O the wails in the bathroom! He thought he was dying of something awful….

      1. My mother’s story was more of the flip side. She had a habit of having half a can of pineapple for a midnight snack, other half the next night. Except somebody on the dorm hall kept stealing her half-a-can.

        So she added…a personal touch….to her next half-a-can. Pineapple theft stopped abruptly.

    2. Anyway, we chased this amiable dunce of a cat through the house (he is now hiding) grabbed him, bathed him, dried him as much as he’d let us, and he’s now sulking somewhere or maybe rolling in clumpable litter. Which is okay, because I’ve ordered a shaver and I stand ready and willing to make him a faux sphinx…

      They’ll do that — especially if they can’t quite wrap their heads around all the “new.”

      When we first got here, Sheldon (our cat) had his very first experience ever with stairs, and with a house with three levels (two stories and a basement), and he lost his furry little mind for a bit.

      He’s indoor only, but we had to put up a baby gate to keep him out of the basement, and confine him to the upstairs bathroom until he understood that there was only one litter box, it was in one place, and he didn’t get to be creative.

      1. [quote]“you know in Portugal if you have to clean a lot of sh*t you have a sum of money coming.”[/quote]
        And… good luck. Because when would a sum of money not be welcome?

        1. It has been my observation that large sums of unexpected cash can be a very sharp and two edged sword. Large as in a major lottery win or a significant inheritance will definitely solve some problems, but inevitably will create entirely different ones.
          Just take a look at the rather pathetic stories of any number of big lottery winners. Lump sum, major celebration, then five years later back in poverty.
          Or the fairly consistent way that family wealth always seems to evaporate within just a handful of generations. First generation finds some means to fantastic riches followed by subsequent ones bound and determined to fritter it all away.
          And, yes, there are always counter examples of windfall recipients who lawyer up, avoid the influx of instant “friends” in need, and invest wisely. All they have to worry about is their very rapacious governments.

          1. Yeah, I have a “large windfall” checklist that starts with getting a financial adviser and putting taxes in an escrow account.

            Not that it’s likely to happen, but it is oddly soothing to figure out the numbers.

      2. ours is indoor only too. And he’s both adorable and not quite all there.
        Valeria, the purloined cat, otoh, is cunning and weird. Loves everyone, but is convinced we’re out to kill her. I let Dan deal with her.

  2. I feel like I’m sensing a theme of “well, there’s a mess, but something will make up for it!”

    You got the money extracted from GFM safely, I hope?

  3. Not a phobia (I think), but when eating I want “even numbers” of pieces of food.

    IE I’d want even number of cookies (ie four cookies not three or five) and would attempt to eat the cookie with an even number of bites.

    [Crazy Grin]

    1. Ah, now I know who’s eating all the even numbers I leave behind… 😀

      For some reason my brain finds 2 and 4 (and to a lesser extent 8) to be uncomfortable numbers, and always wants to change ’em.

  4. My favorite philosopher maintains that adulthood is accepting that “anything that washes off is OK, that only the things you can”t wash off but wish you could, are not”. This one happens to know that poo was his inspiration.

  5. ” This much pooh cannot fail.’
    Is THAT why PayPal tried to make me donate $1,000,468.98?

  6. When I was in college, one of my roommates went out and bought a Persian cat off a classified. She was told (I was there) that this caged animal was three and generally excellent. After the joy of somehow getting her home by walking, she promptly went under the sofa and wouldn’t come out. Any time we came into a rom with her, she’d flee under the sofa. Since she flinched when we got close it wasn’t too far a stretch to figure she’d been abused. (The cage ought to have been a clue).
    She also turned out to be seven, with a kidney infection, which meant stink galore. So when she finally recovered, my roomate decided to bathe her. Twice. It took us plusmthe neighbors. Washing, no problem: the poor thing froze at the first drop. But roomier decided she needed to be blowdried…
    I let go after the fun started. Everyone else involved looked like a mass botched suicide attempt. Scratchea from wrist to elbow.

  7. The first one was completely bizarre to me because, being an Odd kid, I’d developed a method of walking that avoided all cracks.

    My understanding about the stepping on a crack is that it was originally “step on a crack, break your back”. I saw that form in a World Book encyclopedia article on superstitions many moons ago. It morphed among young kids to “your mother’s back”.

  8. And you really can’t get me to clip my nails on a Friday, because what’s the point of taking risks.

    It isn’t that I’m superstitious , superstitious, I am not
    Nevertheless, I take no chances, walk under ladders
    Don’t give a hoot for hex or hoodoo, Lady Luck, or April Fool’s
    Nevertheless, I’m more than careful to observe these rules

    When I lie in bed at night and hear a whippoorwill
    I rush to put a rabbit’s foot upon my windowsill
    But when I find a four leaf clover, that’s my lucky day
    There’s thirteen reasons why I feel this way

    I never lived in fear of witches, which is why I wish to state
    Long as I’m feeling fine and dandy, and my health is great
    Why, oh why, should I tempt fate

    I’ve never known a jinx or Jonah that could ever frighten me
    Nevertheless, I don’t object to hanging up a horseshoe
    I don’t believe in mystic powers, mystic powers, tommy-rot
    Nevertheless, I cross my fingers when I’m in a spot

    Always make three wishes when I see a shooting star
    Never eat an oyster in a month without an “R”
    And when I catch a ladybug, I let it fly away
    There’s thirteen reasons why I feel this way

    Never tap your toe in June to an organ grinder’s tune
    Men who pick up rusty pins marry girls with double chins
    Three on one match isn’t good, make a circle, knock on wood
    On the sidewalk, don’t relax, never, never step on cracks

    Children skippin’ rope
    Happy is their horoscope
    But if they should drop their rope
    Well, I could go on listing things all day

    Skippin’ rope, horoscope, rusty pins, double chins,
    Lots of things like wedding rings …… wedding rings
    I can see me, sad and dreamy
    In a wedding gown

    It isn’t that I’m superstitious , superstitious, I am not
    Nevertheless, I see no harm iIn lookin’ in a window

    Now, pickin’ petals off o’ daisies isn’t what you’re thinkin’ of
    Believe it or not, I’m just preparin’ for that well known dove
    Just in case I fall in love
    Just in case I fall in, fall in, fall, I’ll fall in love

    Doris Day’s character in the film “Lucky Me.”

  9. I’m not superstitious, except I tap wood or am very, very careful to add “yet” when talking about things going well. Comes from aviation, which is as superstitious as all get out. (I have a lucky coin and St. Michael medallion in my flight jacket, among other things. And I try to take major tests or check rides on the 13th of the month, if possible. Friday the 13th is even better.)

    1. Aviation, superstitious? Why, no, those aren’t superstitions, those are merely healthy respect for the way the universe works!
      Because Murphy, after all, was an engineer involved in flight testing.

      *taps side of nose, gives audience a significant look*
      You can try to argue your laws of physics and your categories and classifications and your “shoulds” and “must happen”, but reality? Doesn’t care. And aviation has a history of rules written in blood and a healthy respect for a medium that doesn’t give a damn what you think, it’ll kill you anyway.

      We’re no more superstitious than sailors are, for the same reason. Practical, that’s the word.

  10. Whenever I walk in a London Street
    I’m ever so careful to watch my feet.
    I walk in the squares and the masses of bears
    Who wait at the corners ready to eat
    The sillies who step on the lines in the street
    Go back to their lairs. And I say to them ‘Bears,
    Just watch me walking in all the squares!’
    ….. there’s more …
    A.A.Milne

  11. It might be an evening comment but the story was a lunchtime laugh when I read it earlier! I’m still surprised I don’t have to de-poop C’s Balinese tail more often than I do and that none of the times I’ve had to do it required those measures! I could use a recommendation for a cat shaver, though, thanks to his Aunt H the chonk, whose weight means she requires grooming despite being my only shorthair. Anyway, here’s hoping that bit of superstition comes true and that Murphy leaves both of us alone for a while but the rest of those thoughts are more appropriate for your latest AtH post, so off to there next!

  12. I like for chapters I write to have even word counts. Don’t think it’s superstition. Maybe a touch of OCD?

  13. Have not sent the check yet*, Mrs. Hoyt, do you still want the ATH subscription check now or can it wait until Boxing Day?

    *Have to drive it to the post office. Ah changes.

  14. More on topic:

    I am a superstitious belief that the books we have in heaven will be the ones that we were willing give freely to any who wanted them. This is how the signed 1st edition copy of Misty of Chincoteague is in the hands of a home schooled alternative education teenager somewhere in Washington state.

    I really like to re-read books 😋

  15. Up early, for a Saturday, because Merlin was trying bury poo in the tub. It was a loud process – it’s an old cast iron tub. At least it’s easy to clean up there. I feel sorry for him. He’s as curious as any cat, but everything he finds terrifies him.

  16. Our Troll-cat (the one previously mentioned on FB) loved to play kibble hockey. It wasn’t so bad when it was just him…but he got the other two cats we had at the time convinced to be his team-mates… kibble under *everything*.

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