Thursday the 13th

We all know about Friday the 13th and the fears associated with “bad luck”. Hell’s bells, there’s even a word for it — paraskavedekatriaphobia — which I used in a post five years (!) ago. Because that’s what people do. That’s how they feel safe. They name their fears to lend an air of authenticity to them, to validate the fear. Give something a name, a label, and thus eliminate a sense of alienation. You’re not alone. Sure, you’re a freak for being afraid of cotton balls or postage stamps or the color beige, but you’re not the only one. Safety in numbers and all that.
As long as that number’s not 13, of course.
Today, as you may know, is Thursday the 13th. It’s sitting over there in the corner, waving at you half-heartedly, feeling like an ignored stepdaughter at a Little League game, wishing for attention but knowing it’ll just never compare to the much more famous, glamorous, and feared real thing. But you know me. I have always championed the underdog, always felt an affinity with strays and outcasts, so it’s time that Thursday the 13th received a bit of my attention. No one else is going to recognize it, so I gladly assume responsibility.
The fears associated with the 13th are big and scary. Worthy of sleeping with the lights on and looking over your shoulder. Worthy of shudders and shivers. Thursday the 13th doesn’t want to knock your socks off. It just wants to push them down your ankles just enough to make you take notice.
It’s not black cats. (Shana heaves a sigh of relief and goes back to her crossword puzzle.) It’s about gray cats. Today is not about crossing yourself when a black cat crosses your path but about tipping your hat to a gray cat who passes behind you.
Today is not about avoiding walking under a ladder. Today is about sidestepping a step-stool, much like Dick van Dyke eventually did with the ottoman in the opening credits of “The Dick van Dyke Show”.
Today is not about getting seven years of bad luck for breaking a mirror. Today is for getting seven days of a slight stomach cramp for nicking one.
Today is not about breaking your mom’s back by stepping on a crack. It’s about giving her a brief stitch in her side by stepping off a curb before the light turns green.
Friday the 13th is all about extremes, and that’s what scares people so much. I move that we not only acknowledge but embrace Thursday the 13th instead, just like neglected stepdaughters and stray dogs and stuffed animals marked “IRREGULAR” at TJMaxx. And toss Mrs. Dash over our shoulders. Just in case.