Posted by : Selma
I didn’t think I was all that superstitious until my son said to me : “Mum, you say touch wood all the time.” He’s right, I do. ” I hope we don’t get that horrible ‘flu that’s going around. Touch wood.” “I hope the elastic on my underwear holds out until I get home from work. Touch wood.” “I hope this fifth Cosmopolitan doesn’t mean I’ll spend the rest of the night throwing up. Touch wood.”
Seems I’m not alone. Superstition is one of the mainsprings of human behaviour generating hopes of influencing our own fate and defeating the forces of evil. We touch wood to ward off a negative outcome because in folklore there are certain trees that are believed to protect against evil and misfortune. They include ash, rowan, birch, hazel, holly, oak, hawthorne and bay. In Russia it is believed that aspen laid on the grave of a witch will prevent her spirit from riding out at night to terrorize people.
Superstitions cover a wide range of beliefs. Jazz legend, Duke Ellington, never wore a brown suit. He stopped wearing brown as it was the colour he was wearing on the day his mother died. Winston Churchill petted black cats as he believed they brought him good luck. By contrast, hip hop star Missy Elliott fears black cats. If one walks in her path, even if she is on the way to an important meeting, she will immediately turn around and go home.
A quick office poll revealed that supersition is very much alive in the modern world. Daniel, 36, a very sensible accountant, will not walk under ladders. Susie will not date men whose name starts with ‘P.’ Tracey puts a lucky charm in her bra when attending meetings. Chen would never travel to the 13th floor of a building. In fact, until just a few years ago, many apartment and office buildings were built without a thirteenth floor because people refused to live or work on that floor.
Sean gets the prize for grossest superstition, however. Every year when his footy team gets into the finals he gets out his pair of lucky socks. He was wearing them when he won the Grand Final five years ago. Each year they bring him luck. The secret is they’ve never been washed.
Seems that athletes on the whole are a superstitious bunch. Tiger Woods always wears a red article of clothing when playing in a tournament. Michael Jordan always wore his trusty North Carolina Tarheel shorts under his game shorts. If tennis player, Goran Ivanisevic, won a tournament he would repeat everything from the previous day : eat the same food, get up at the same time, talk to the same people. “Sometimes it got very boring,” he is noted as saying.
I can see what he means, but maybe boring is the price you pay for good luck. I had a good day at work today so I’m going to repeat everything I did today on Monday. And the winning schedule includes:
* Get up half an hour before due at work
* Run out of shampoo so have to wash hair with soap. Hair is stiff and inflexible all day. People compliment me on my new look.
* Wear panty hose in a size too small so crotch hovers around my knees all day.
* Hand in story to boss man without a proper edit. He says it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
* Tell Rachelle (the boss man’s niece) that I’d heard Paris Hilton wanted to be one of her friends on her My Space page. She spends four hours trying to confirm this and leaves me alone.
* Have hot chips and a bar of chocolate for lunch.
* Talk to Mavis in accounts about her varicose veins and piles.
* Get the bus home and give my seat up for an elderly woman who gets on at Chinatown.
* Drink too much wine with dinner and fall asleep on the couch, snoring, by 8PM.
Superstition or a path to obsessive compulsive disorder? I may end up fat, perpetually drunk, and looking like a bag lady; but at least I’ll be basking in an abundance of good luck.