“Do you know why they call it a superstition?” Mr. Patrick, my sixth-grade teacher, asked the class. He had just told us about an old friend who died a horrific death with welts and boils, rashes and coughs, fevers and hallucinations, after refusing to heed the warnings and entering an ancient pyramid. The doctors didn’t know what was afflicting him, other than everything. Other than the curse.
“Because if you don’t take the warning super seriously, you’ll be super dead!” Mr. Patrick said, punctuating the point with a deep chuckle. It was a terrible joke. They were always terrible jokes. But we didn’t love him for the jokes; we loved him for the stories.
Having to take superstitions super seriously or end up super dead has stuck with me somehow in the back of my mind. I am not superstitious — except, of course, for the fact that I am.
One week ago, it was both Friday the 13th and a full moon. This overlap in fodder for superstitions happens only about every few decades. The next full moon on Friday the 13th will be in 2049. Adding to the werewolf summoning of the full moon and the release of evil by the 13th, it was also the harvest moon. The harvest moon is the moon closest to the autumnal equinox, ushering in such delightful things as apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes and, of course, Halloween, with its witches, ghouls and apocalyptic nightmares in tow.
I don’t believe in any of these things. I’m almost positive I don’t believe in any of these things.
I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the 13th and the harvest moon, attending a bachelorette party with my old college friends. If a date could be a harbinger of bad luck and a moon the flint that illuminates and amplifies the evil swirling around, Santa Fe might just be the perfect portal into the super-unknown — the entry and exit point of all luck, good or bad, malicious or magnificent. It’s a city that oozes magic and untold secrets. She clasps tightly in her hand the map to the other realms, but she’ll never unclasp her fingers. Your attempts to pry them open only cause her to smile more broadly, blindingly. One eye is most certainly made of crystal, and if you stare into it long enough, you can see your future -- or at least how you die. This is Santa Fe personified.
That is why, in the early morning of Friday the 13th, the day of the full (harvest) moon, I was not excited to be greeted by a black cat pacing back and forth across the outside windowsill of our Airbnb.
“Do not let the black cat in,” I told my friend Carolyn as she opened the French doors onto the back patio.
“But he’s so cute,” she said, cooing and petting the cat. “A black cat crossing your path is good luck,” she said.
“That’s not how the superstition goes,” I said.
“Oh, right. But a black cat on Friday the 13th is good luck,” Carolyn corrected herself.
“Nope,” I replied. “Are you just making this up as you go along?”
Carolyn wasn’t listening. She was getting the black cat, who kept crossing our pathway, a saucer of milk.
“Let’s let him inside,” she said.
“Do not let him inside!”
“But it’s Friday the 13th,” she said with the same conviction that Bob Cratchit has when expecting goodwill from Scrooge on Christmas.
“If you don’t take a superstition warning super seriously, you will be super dead,” I said.
My friends, who were now all crouched down around the stray cat, stared up at me with concern. Or maybe it was pity. I can’t be sure.
They named the cat Lucky. They left milk out for him every day, but we only saw him on the 13th.
That night, with the full moon, went on with joy and no incident. But the days that have followed have not been so smooth. While she was out for a run, Carolyn’s knee popped. It’s a torn meniscus. Another friend tripped and suffered a radial fracture. There were missed flights and suddenly moldy suitcases and a house flooded upon return.
X-rays and damaged property were shared in our group text message chain.
“It was that cat! Lucky wasn’t lucky!” Carolyn exclaimed.
Look, I’m not superstitious, but I told ya so!
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids,” available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.