Thirteen Black Cats

November 6, 2009
You are having a bad day. An “Oh my god, the world hates me” kind of day. You start to wonder why. Why would this happen to you today? You think back to lunch, to math class, to PE, to breakfast. Suddenly you remember. During breakfast, you had been harmlessly reaching for a napkin to clean up the orange juice that had missed the cup when your hand bumped the saltshaker. It fell and spilled salt across the table. Now you had found your culprit, the cause of your awful day: you had spilled salt. Those tiny grains of salt had changed the fabric of time, making you unlucky.

Honestly, does that make sense? The notion that something as small as spilling salt could change what will happen to you that day is ridiculous! People call this being superstitious, but I call it being silly and paranoid.

Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number thirteen, is probably the most extreme superstition. People fear thirteen so much that they exclude the thirteenth row from airplanes, there is no room thirteen in many hospitals, and many cities don’t have a Thirteenth Street or Thirteenth Avenue. Also, over 80% of skyscrapers don’t have a thirteenth floor. This is not just an American superstition; the number thirteen is feared in many other countries as well. For example, on streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number twelve and fourteen is addressed as twelve and a half.

There are many theories as to why thirteen is an unlucky number such as the fact that a witches' coven has thirteen people and the knights templar were hunted down and murdered on Friday the thirteenth, but many reasons trace back to Christianity: Jesus Christ supposedly died on Friday the thirteenth and there were thirteen participants at the Last Supper. Tradition states that Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the thirteenth to sit at the table.

One day, my little brother came home and told me that thirteen must be unlucky because of something that his friend had seen on the news. He had seen a story about a man who had triskaidekaphobia that got stuck in an elevator. Guess which floor he got stuck on? The thirteenth. He was stuck there for two days eating who knows what all the time terrified of the floor he was stuck on. Now pretend this man had gotten stuck on the seventh floor. Would it have even been on the news? Even if it was, we would have never found out that this person was triskaidekaphobic. The media loves stories like these, with a weird coincidence that seems almost supernatural, but people get stuck in elevators all the time. It’s just that the only times you hear about it are when there is something like a man who is afraid of the number thirteen stuck on the thirteenth floor. News like this not only makes people superstitious, it also takes attention away from important news that people need to know about. This shows that superstitions have consequences, but what if they caused the harm of a living thing.

My friend just got a cat. She is small, and shy but very sweet. Her name is Blackberry Pancake and she is a black cat. Many superstitious people consider black cats, unlucky. They are thought to carry demons and be witches in disguise, but they are truly the same as any other cat. In an experiment conducted by Mark Levin, he proved that a black cat would not cause any change in a subject’s luck. Despite this evidence, this superstition lives on and because of it, black cats are half as likely to be adopted than cats of any other color. Blackberry Pancake is a wonderful cat, but if my friend hadn’t taken her in, she may have never been adopted and would possibly have been euthanized.

For some people, it seems as though no matter how absurd it is, superstitions really do affect them, they walk under a ladder and then have a horrible day. That is purely mental. The ladder really had no physical affect on their day; it was their thinking that it would that changed their luck. It changed their outlook so they approached everything with a negative attitude and made their own day bad. At my camp, we go on a lot of trips. Some of them are hiking and less than desirable, but the counselors always tell us that if we have a negative attitude, it will ruin our day. That is what superstitious people do everyday. They think that because of something that happened, their day will be unlucky and so it is, but only because they make it.

You are in control of your own life. All of these superstitions won’t affect you unless you make them affect you, so the next time you spill salt, just get up, walk away and get on with your life.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback