To My Superstitious Friends: I Forgive You

4 Jun

In a recent issue of The New Yorker there was an item in the Talk of the Town section about an Italian restaurant that was closing its doors after 65 years in business. One of its quirks, described by Gay Talese, is the place’s wallpaper, which the owner had left undisturbed since 1945 because he was superstitious.

Just last night on NBC Nightly News, the most egotistical anchor on the tube today, Brian Williams, ended the show with a picture he took with his cellphone of a pretty sky over the Gulf of Mexico. He said he thought it might be a “good omen” for the region when he snapped the shot. The dubious nature of the “story” and his mediocre photography aside, Williams revealed his superstitious nature.

One of my favorite scenes from the old “All in the Family” sitcom has Archie and the Meathead improbably bunking together for the night. As luck would have it, an urgent event forces them to rise and dress together. One of them (I forget who) first puts on both socks, then both shoes. The other puts on a sock and shoe on one foot, then repeats the process for the other foot. Then they get into a hilarious and pointless argument about the virtues of their preferred habit, which is just their own superstition.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t a little superstitious. We have lucky caps or jerseys that we wear when our favorite teams play. We knock on wood. We often do things in specific ways not because they are the right way, but because we believe if done differently something bad might befall us.

Some of us (and you know who you are) inflict their superstitions on others through e-mail.

I recently got an innocuous e-mail from a friend asking me to forward it to 10 other innocent souls in order not to break the chain. If I broke the chain somehow good luck would not visit either me or the person who sent me the message. The implication was that bad luck would ensue.

I deleted the message.

I never object when friends send me their silly chain messages. After all, I’m their friend. If they need me to complete their count of people to get the chain e-mail, fine. I accept their superstitions and forgive them wasting my time. Goodness knows, they accept my oddities with equal forbearance.

But they should know, I will break the chain.

So, dear friends, you can count on me to be counted as part of your dutiful list of people to receive the chain messages. I won’t say a critical word. But if you really are superstitious about the power and importance of a particular message, you’d better leave me off the list because I will break the chain.

Trust me, though, nothing bad will happen to you when I break the chain. (Knock on wood.)

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3 Responses to “To My Superstitious Friends: I Forgive You”

  1. jcartermarketing June 4, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    haha my grandparents are constantly sending me chain mail. I too, break the chain.

  2. Wally Göbel June 6, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    Hi Mark,
    good to know that you dislike chain mails just like me. I’ve never passed them on, sometimes I even don’t read them.

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