When I was young (maybe 10, maybe 7), my grandmother ran through the house shaking a rope of bells. My sister and I followed excitedly behind her with our dog, who barked throughout the commotion. My grandmother said she was chasing out demons. Decades later, I reminded my grandmother of it. She denied ever doing it.
My grandmother died a devout Christian. There was only one devil and one God. She did not believe in demons and kitchen gods anymore. These beings were relegated to folklore and superstition.
Drugstore Cowboy is one of my favorite movies. Not only because William S. Burroughs is in it. He was my creative inspiration for many years. I regret not going to see him when I had the chance. He died months later. And not only because Matt Dillion was great in it. Up until then I had only known him from Rumblefish. I never saw the Outsiders. But because the Matt Dillion’s character was severely superstitious, which caused tension with the gang his character was the boss of. “Never put your hat on your bed…”
I am selectively superstitious. I don’t stand chopsticks up in a bowl of rice. I cut my hair the week before the New Year and not the week after. I also don’t sweep or vacuum New Year’s day or the day after (to be on the safe side). I believe in ghosts and have had moments of Deja Vu. I tell myself that they are the result of anxiety, restlessness, exhaustion, and stress. I’m not very convincing.
My wife announced she was pregnant with our son the Saturday after 9/11. My wife and I waited the three months before telling anyone outside of our family. When we announced it to our friends, my coworkers wanted to celebrate but I said, No. I was afraid that bad karma from 9/11 would harm him in some way. I didn’t want a big deal made. I didn’t want to attract any bad luck.
Recently, our youngest son had an operation. It was a common and simple procedure. The doctors seemed confident and everyone we spoke to whose children had the same operation said it was a simple operation. My son’s operation would have been simple, if he did not have an ear infection, a cough, and severe cold. It also turns out that there was a minor complication with the procedure itself. It took longer than the surgeon expected.
Everything worked out fine. He is recovering nicely on all counts (the cough and cold, the ear infection, and the operation). My wife and I were both stressed out during the weeks leading up to the operation. I refused to speak too much about it. I was afraid that speaking about it too often would jinx the operation. I wrote a brief email message to friends asking for their well wishes but that was about it. I was uncomfortable giving out any details – even to family.