Beware the unluck of the calendar draw
This could be your lucky day.
But tomorrow could be your unlucky day.
And if, like me, you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia ("Frigga" from the Norse goddess namesake of Friday and "triskaidekaphobia" from fear of the number 13), you'll be mightily relieved if you get through Dec. 13, 2013, without serious damage.
When bad things happen on Fridays the 13th, as they so often do, we friggatriskaidekaphobes are reconfirmed in our pathological jitters.
For instance, the last time we endured a Friday the 13th, this harrowing headline ran on this newspaper's front page: "They're carving up The Pig."
That shook up plenty of readers. Piggly Wiggly announced that it was selling nearly all of its stores in our community. Thus, many of us who had long been "sticking with The Pig" now wander the grocery-store wilderness.
OK, so lots of Pig fans first got those sad tidings on our website on Thursday the 12th, not in our print edition of Friday the 13th.
Hey, being scared of Friday the 13th means never having to say you're sorry for being irrational and inconsistent.
Another local example, from the April 2, 1813 Charleston Courier (one of this paper's ancestors):
"Between the hours of ten and eleven yesterday forenoon, a most awful explosion took place in this harbor, on board the Revenue schooner GALLATIN, commanded by Capt. John. H. Silliman, which had arrived the day before from a short cruise on the coast, and anchored off the town. ... The dreadful explosion took place, and in one instant the whole quarter deck with all of those upon it, were hurled into the air."
Three crew members were killed, five seriously injured.
Yes, that accident also occurred on a Thursday - April 1.
The year, however, was 1813.
Hurry up, next year
That's right. Some of us are not merely scared of Friday the 13th. We're scared of the number 13 - even of years ending in 13.
In other words, we've been on edge for more than 11 months - and still have 19 days to go before reaching the sanctuary of 2014.
Self-perpetuating problem: Assume the worst and you're more likely to get it.
So why subject ourselves to this power of negative thinking?
Because we can't help it.
And if 13 doesn't convey menace, why do so many hotels jump straight from the 12th to the 14th floor?
Meanwhile, before casting the first stone of ridicule, review your own superstitious habits. Do you change your route, lest you cross a black cat's path? Do you avoid stepping on a crack, lest you break your mother's back?
Do you remember how an icon of American literature warns against testing fickle fate with defiance of time-honored customs?
That title character in Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" knows that trouble lurks after Miss Watson prevents him from throwing the salt he had spilled over his left shoulder. As Huck, in his narrator's role, puts it:
"I started out, after breakfast, feeling worried and shaky, and wondering where it was going to fall on me, and what it was going to be. There is ways to keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn't one of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just poked along low-spirited and on the watchout."
Hey, that's all any of us can do once we recognize our ultimate helplessness against the relentless tides of chance.
Now recall this Jan. 13 (Friday the 13th), 2012 tragedy:
The Costa Concordia ran aground on a reef off Italy's Isola del Giglio. Thirty-two lives were lost in the grim reminder that cruise ships' shortcomings aren't limited to throngs of inappropriately attired, loudmouth louts roaming our pristine peninsula.
The monster unleashed
And if you're doubting that the dark powers of the number 13 extend to years ending in the number 13, recall that in 1913, the 16th Amendment removed the Founding Fathers' wise prohibition on taxing income. That outrage planted the seed for the cancerous growth of the Nanny State.
If you're wondering why this friggatriskaidekaphobe is again antsy about the calendar's onrushing confluence of Friday and 13, ponder what happened on March 13 (Friday the 13th), 1964:
A pickup truck speeding on a suburban street killed my wonderdog Yogi, a spunky little white mutt named for Yogi Berra, not Yogi Bear.
So take good care of yourself and your loved ones, including your dogs, tomorrow - and every other day.
And as another peril-packed Friday the 13th looms, keep your fingers crossed.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.