Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th Debunked Just a Bit

I decided to use “Wikipedia” for some inspiration on the theme for today, despite its recent flack received from Bowdoin college professors who found it to be fraught with possible misinformation that research students were citing in their papers as fact. Based on that academic caution, I will temper any references here up front – they may be inaccurate in places in general and possibly due to horror movie fans who have decided to pepper the website’s pages on “Friday the 13th’ with bunk I may not catch.

At least you can take comfort in knowing that I did not use “Wikepedia.org”, which is really frightfully unfair of someone to register, don’t you think? I was quick enough to redirect and change websites when the bogus “Wikepedia (with two “e’s”) asked me “Are you Johnny Depp?” (I’m not, but he is one of my wife’s “boyfriends”, a term of affection that she uses for actors she likes.) I redirected to the true Wikipedia site (with three “i’s”) ready to absorb the history of today’s fateful Friday, which has gone on to be a 10 sequel franchise (if you count “Freddy vs. Jason.”)

Thankfully, if you want to read more on your own, I can say the aforementioned
horror movie is oddly nowhere to be found in any sort of material way. I do find it interesting that today has its own phobia – Paraskavedekatriaphobia - but then again, these days, what doesn’t?

So he we are with me posting and you reading about a day of superstition founded in…does anybody know?

Can someone tell me why parents always instilled a sense of dread whenever the 13th day of the month landed on what is most kid’s favorite day of the week? (after Saturday and Sunday of course.) I mean, come on, it’s Friday…no school tomorrow…Saturday morning cartoon marathon with unlimited cereal bowl refills…perhaps even something special like French toast since it’s the weekend and if you’re good.

Friday typically means pizza for lunch at school and in some cases like my house, for dinner (since I always said to my parents school lunch was fish sticks so I’d be assured of two pizza meals.)

Friday was the exhale after the afternoon’s very last minute of school, which seemed to last forever, each second counting as ten. What could parents possibly be talking about by being extra careful and worried about on a Friday?

Actually in my house, they never said a word. This absence of addressing what seems to be a very suspicious almost holiday was not so much based on parental myth-busting efforts by my folks but rather circumstance.

My dad had not yet started his 27 years of sobriety (and actually didn’t until right before I moved to college) so there was that. He was just more of absent of paternal participation in general and not just jumping over parental warnings about jinxes and curses.

My mom had another reason for being well, mum, about the date and she never spoke of it.

It was up to my grandfather to enlighten me as he did about a great many things. He reminded me every time the date came around, which is one to three times a year by the way. Grampy assured me that Friday the 13th being unlucky was just something that I shouldn’t believe, not in the least.

My mother, his daughter and his only child, was in a horrific car accident, which left her in a coma for 6 weeks when she was 19. She woke from it quite unexpectedly on a Friday the 13th, apparently in defiance of any superstition. The 13th card of the Tarot is Death, which also means rebirth according to the gypsy woman, so perhaps mom doing just that – defying the death they thought she was heading for.

My grandfather, despite being 100% Italian and prone to some amount of belief in the supernatural because of that, could never again believe the date to have any sort dark relevance. In fact, whenever a Friday the 13th rolled around, he got excited about what good fortune may follow the family. Although the extra lottery tickets never did pan out, I always invest a couple bucks in his memory just in case.

My mom doesn’t say much about it because, well, she doesn’t remember much about the accident: having it, waking up or sadly my grandfather’s overwhelming joy at having her back. Her memory still trips on itself here and there and we’ve just learned to be patient and give big hugs. It’s just one of those family things that we know about and like a lot of family history, dance around in conversation.

I was going to suggest that if you’re looking for a reason to simply treat this like any other day, just enjoy your Friday pizza as I plan to do with no worries. Maybe you can share this tale with your kids instead of telling them to look today up on the internet where they will undoubtedly search for more information on the Vorhees family movie franchise instead of any of the interesting historical references that I decided not to include here after all. Hey, you can visit Wikipedia any time you want, I’m only blogging today.

Yes, I was going to tell you to just move on and enjoy the day like any other TGIF - thirteen, schmirteen.

Then a frustrating and true thing happened. I wanted to post this much earlier today (some folks like to start the day off with their horoscope, yours truly included.)

Since I am the world’s worst proof-reader of my own work (I’m sure today is no exception), I was doing some last minute editing and…well…my laptop, which is only 2 months old, froze for the first time since I bought it. My edits were not recovered as they have been in the past on a Word document.

Perhaps it was just fate suggesting that I not be so cavalier about the prevalent creepiness surrounding today. Despite my mom’s story, perhaps you should do the same after all – just be aware. A crashed computer is nothing tragic, just a bit of a nuisance and maybe it’ll just help to double check today (or save your document along the way…)

But then again, I'm confident this finished piece is better than the one I lost so, there is that for you to consider as you proceed with caution.

And just remember, as I do when I imagine my mom opening her eyes for my grandfather almost 50 years ago, great things can still happen. I’m buying a lottery ticket or two in case my grandfather is watching out, right after I call my mother.

John LaFleur

1 comment:

The Writers' Group said...

John, I love this story. I, too, was in a coma, though not nearly as long as your mother's. I remember waking up and seeing my father by my bedside, crying into his hands. As much as I went through, it didn't compare to the pain my parents suffered. Thanks for sharing.

Amy