Friday, November 13, 2020

Frigga It All! It's Friday the 13th, Again!

broken mirror bad luck

Today is the second Friday the 13th of the year. Does that make you anxious and full of dread?

It shouldn’t. If you survived 2020 long enough to read that sentence, brother, you should not sweat friggatriskaidekaphobia. Not even if your preferred freakout is paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Those two tongue-tripping words mean the exact same thing — the fear of Friday the 13th — but I prefer the former because, after the year we’ve had, we should all find it far more satisfying to look at the calendar today and shout “Frigga it all.”

You may recall the first Friday the 13th that was in March. Right around the same time your kids came home for what turned into Never-Ending School Break and the nation started panicking over finding paper towels and TP. (Please note: I did not panic. I still subscribe to the paper editions of my news publications.)

What a coincidence! We all laughed at the time. What more could happen?

Just murder hornets, wildfires and hurricanes of Greek-letter proliferation.

Deaths of leaders in the fight for equality and justice; deaths of artists with much left to give; deaths of so many Americans to a virus, to a gun, to senselessness.

The presidential campaign, the presidential election, the less-than-presidential tweetstorms of a wannabe despot trying to gaslight the nation into a war against the foundation of democracy.

To quote the philosopher Charlie Brown, “* SIGH *.”

Thankfully, we did find some reliable comfort in the sporting world. The Mets, the Giants, the Jets floundered yet again. The Yankees played winning baseball for the zillionth season of their existence right up until they didn’t, sending their fans to sports radio with tales of betrayal, bitterness and woe.

But, dear all-powerful Odin — even the Patriots and a suntanned Tom Brady appear to be mere mortals this year.

“End times truly are near! Today must be the day!” some cry out.

I hope not. Just Wednesday, I bought new tires.

While the omens of doom and gloom seem to be everywhere, we must maintain faith — spiritually, surely, and also faith in fact, law and science. Social media conspiracy theories and other lies do not constitute any of those no matter how hard the capslock button is struck before typing them.

We need to confront these unfounded fear mongers head on, just like William Fowler did with friggatriskaidekaphobia and all other worries about the unluckiness of the No. 13. Fowler, a Civil War veteran from New York, found many fortunate, positive or at least non-negative instances of the number occurring in his life, so he set about to laugh in superstition’s face.

According to the New York Historical Society Museum and Library’s blog: “At 8:13 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 1882 ... in room 13 of his Knickerbocker Cottage, Captain Fowler and twelve men he recruited over the previous year (it took that long to find candidates brave enough), assembled for a highly symbolic dinner. To reach their meal guests passed beneath a ladder and under a banner that read ‘Morituri te Salutamus,’ or ‘Those of us who are about to die salute you.’ Thirteen candles lit the first of 13 courses: big platters of lobster salad molded into coffin shape. Salt cellars lay toppled about the table, but tossing a pinch of spilled salt over the shoulder was strictly forbidden. Thus was born the Thirteen Club.” The dinner became a boisterous annual mocking of unfounded fears, and the club eventually counted among its members several U.S. presidents, even though most of them were decidedly mediocre leaders.

So on this Friday the 13th, step on crack, spill some salt and walk under ladder. Just do it at home or, if in public, with a mask on. We all have plenty of tread left on our tires.

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