Sunday, July 22, 2018

A little thing called "luck"

The belief in the concept of luck is only a little more prevalent than the belief in UFOs, but every bit as entertaining. I recently came across a library book called "Luck, The Essential Guide," which chronicles the things people have believed are lucky throughout history. Hairy people are lucky, apparently. I have won several drawings over the years, and now I know why.

In Japan, big ears are lucky but in China, it's big ear lobes, a refinement which I find adorable. 

At one time in Europe, rubbing your hands on a redhead for luck was a thing. Or at least rubbing your dice on a redhead, which I still suggest you do without warning for maximum effect. 

Sneezing at the same time as another person brings you both luck, as well as, probably, your doctors. 

In 19th Century England, people would carry the tip, the "lucky bit," of a cow's tongue around in their pockets. I guess if I were sitting next to that guy on the trolley I would indeed feel pretty unlucky by comparison, especially downwind. 

Wearing clothes inside out is lucky, especially underwear. Red underwear is suggested while flying or gambling, for that extra edge, and also to crack up the coroner. 

Crossing paths with an elephant is considered lucky. Hunchbacks too, especially if you rub the hump. But in Italy, at least, encountering a nun is bad luck. Touching a bit of iron renders you safe again, or, I'm not kidding, you can say "Your nun!" to the person next to you, and pass the bad luck to them. I suppose if you both jinx each other simultaneously, she's nobody's nun, which is kind of what God was going for in the first place, I assume.

Hearing a cat sneeze is good luck. (I am guessing if you dig around in the Talmud deep enough it's in there too.)

Because the word "luck" in Japanese sounds like the word for poop, a golden poop charm is widely worn, with a straight face, it appears. 

Going back to the 17th Century in Europe, stepping in manure was thought to be lucky, or getting bombed by bird poo. The book insists that in France it's lucky to step in dog crap, but only with your left foot. When it comes to luck, specificity is key.

Like: a rabbit's foot is lucky, but, the book insists, it should be the rear left foot and from a rabbit killed on the full moon by a cross-eyed person. 

This is how we ended up with lawyers, people. 

Or this: saying "Rabbits rabbits rabbits" before saying anything else on the first morning of the month, ideally while spinning around in place three times, is lucky. There is definitely an element of OCD which goes hand in hand (ideally a redhead's) with luck superstitions. 

According to the book, "a spider found on clothing was a sign that the person would soon receive a new outfit." You are right about that. Are you kidding me? The old one's full of freaking SPIDERS.

Flowers grow best if planted during a new moon, plant root vegetables like carrots during a waning moon. Mooning your neighbor while gardening brings good luck along with the police. 

Alfalfa is lucky for gamblers. Imagine if the plane crashes, and the gambler is found with inside-out red underwear and a pocketful of alfalfa. It think at that point he's lucky he's dead. 

For luck in Africa, they evidently hang an aloe plant above the front door. I guarantee you that one is a practical joke that got out of hand.

The Chinese believe in lucky mole placement. A mole on either butt cheek is good luck. Unless you are the one stuck doing the verification. 

Humans have come up with a lot of rules for how to live. Pick up a penny. Don't step on a crack. Tell actors to break a leg so they won't. All to feel just a little in control in a world vast and sometimes scary. Some people blow it all off and live by their own rules, free of superstition. There is a word for these people. Lucky.