Good Luck Never Smelled So… Bad

I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely superstitious person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t believe in bits and pieces. I don’t know whether walking under a ladder is really bad luck or not, but for some reason I just find myself avoiding it whenever the situation arises. I mean, if Looney Tunes has taught me anything, it’s to avoid ladders. And anvils.

Another famous superstition in regards to luck refers to the misfortune that will befall anyone who breaks a mirror. Not your short term misfortune either. We’re talking 7 years of nothing but bad luck. Just thinking about how expensive mirrors were during the time this superstition was likely conceived can help shed a bit of light on its origins. If I were a mother back then, I’d definitely say things like that to my kids if they were horseplaying around with expensive fragile items.

“Hey, get away from that mirror! If you break that you’ll have 7 years of bad luck, you know!”

Then in my head, “ha, that’ll teach those little whippersnappers to play ball in the house.”

They say that a broken clock or a cracked crystal on a pocket watch or wristwatch is also believed to be a bad sign. Not surprisingly, these are also very expensive items that are as old as the superstitions themselves. The story even goes on to say that a broken watch symbolizes failure to progress in one’s work. Which would make sense… cause you’d be late to work and all sorts of bad luck would no doubt ensue. So again, the origins of such superstitions somewhat make sense. Some superstitions about luck aren’t as easily explained though.

Tell me if you’ve ever heard this one. Originating somewhere in the UK, it’s believed that by saying “rabbit” right after you wake up on the first day of the month, you’ll bring yourself good luck for the next 30 or so days. No matter how you say it; rabbit-rabbit, rabbits, white rabbit, run rabbit run, etc., it’s supposed to work.

What about knocking on wood? Another dumb superstition that I find myself doing from time to time. Okay fine, often. Do I necessarily believe in it? I have no idea, but at risk of jinxing myself, it’s easier to just tap on the table just in case. There are two big theories behind this one. One is that pagans believe spirits live in trees, so it was kind of used as a nod to them, for lack of better words. The other theory comes from Britain and mentions a popular children’s game called “Tiggy-touch-wood,” where the only way you were “safe” from the other children chasing you was when you were touching a piece of wood. Could the whole concept of knocking on wood for luck have really stemmed from a kid’s game? I wouldn’t be surprised. Though I favor the tree spirits myself.

From blowing out birthday candles, lucky horseshoes, throwing salt over your shoulder, breaking wishbones, and even picking up pennies (not tails up, that’s bad luck!), superstitions on luck abound. It’s hard to keep up with them all, and sometimes I just think people are having me on with some of these tales.

A bird pooping on you is supposed to be good luck. I know, I know, but it’s true. Or so I’m told. I don’t believe it. And I’ll tell you why. A bird pooped on my hand the other day. There I was, minding my own business, walking around the neighborhood, trying to get some air and exercise, and a bird decided to just poop on my hand. Cause, you know. That’s what I’m here for. Oh look, my friend said, a bird pooped on your hand! You’ll have good luck! No, Sharon, I have germs. Germs are what I have. You’re so lucky! No, I’m not lucky, I’m disgusted. And for your information, there was no luck to be had here. No luck at all. I mean, I guess it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been my head. Or my face as I turned it upward to see what the hell that freakin’ bird was doing. Maybe the bird just had bad aim. Maybe that’s where the good luck came in.

So, yeah. Superstitions stink.

I Just Wanted to Look at Some Memes

There I was, just scanning my Facebook feed for some funny memes and humorous tidbits to help me survive the week. But what do I find instead?  My friend posting about how an owl came down into her yard to tear apart a squirrel. With photos. Cause, you know. Wildlife. Another friend posted about seeing a dog get hit by a car. No context, no lead up to the story, just blam, there in your face as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed.  Oh, and a friend of a friend (cause Facebook just loves to introduce you to new people you have absolutely nothing in common with) whose post you’re not even interested in shows up as well: “here’s a picture of a dead cat I saw down by the bridge,” and that’s it. No lesson to be learned, no particular warning to others, except for maybe if you’re going down to the bridge, you might see a dead cat. Not even to raise money or awareness for a cause, just “hey, dead cat everyone. Heads up.”

One post I had the misfortune of stumbling upon was about two doves that came to someone’s yard to drink, but as the post was sure to point out, only one flew away… and frightened no less. “I mourn with you, Mr. Dove.” Someone commented, being sure to detail the demise of the unlucky bird who was abruptly snatched up by a hawk with dinner plans. Why? Why do people feel the need to share such awful stories with such (seemingly) glee? Oh, sure, these folks ostensibly post these horrible encounters because they’re just sooo sad, but then in the comments, they sure seem to love talking about the thing that has made them sooo sad.  Well, what about the rest of us, I ask you?  Now, we’re burdened with these images that we would very much prefer not to be burdened with, thank you very much.

So, the county historical society decided to post pics of local hunters with their “prizes” – real dead geese – in hand as a “story” on Facebook. There wasn’t any historical anecdote behind the photos, just proud hunters proud of the fact that they had killed something. I mean, why? I get that people hunt, but I’m not sure why they feel the need to showcase the dead animals to the unsuspecting public. I mean, it’s no problem if you’re part of a wildlife group or hunting organization, you expect these sorts of things to be shared, discussed, and what have you. In that case, more power to ya! Share within your own communities all you want! I encourage happiness, morally, ethically, and legally (mostly) of course. But I don’t want to see this kind of stuff in my public feed. That’s why I don’t belong to hunting groups and the like. It wasn’t some sort of ground-breaking story either, and call me old-fashioned but shouldn’t a historical society be posting, hmm I don’t know. Historical things maybe?

In the case of the former, is it like a “misery loves company” sort of thing? With the latter, I cannot even begin to understand the “pride” behind killing something and then pushing photos of said achievement onto the unsuspecting masses. Here I am scrolling along, looking at memes and AITA posts, and then…BAM! A story about a mutilated dove and a dead goose, staring me right in the face. Talk about a buzz kill. But seriously, how have we become so jaded, so numb that it doesn’t even cross our minds that, hey this stark, and startling, photo/story/video might just be upsetting to some folks, maybe I should keep it to myself or maybe, you know, share it somewhere designed for content like this, where folks are expecting it. It just seems like society is all about shock value anymore and those who rail against such random awfulness are labeled “snowflakes” and worse. When did compassion and empathy become bad traits to have?

Some people have a difficult time coming across such things. I’m one of them. It’s the randomness of it, the incongruity of it all, that jars a person. Society as a whole has become an unsympathetic glob of the worst kind of voyeurism.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to find some funny memes.

 

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Shopping, Lunch, and a Baptism

Mobile prayer and baptisms are a thing. Did you know that?  I did not. However, there is a mobile prayer and baptism RV and trailer that sets up shop most weekends in the parking lot of the local strip mall in my town.  So, it’s gotta be a thing, right? It’s not every weekend though. Perhaps they have other locations they visit as well. An evangelical tour of sorts. Now, I’m not going to judge anyone for their beliefs… okay fine, maybe I do judge a little. Listen, don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m doing the best I can here! But seriously, does this type of proselytizing really work? I mean, do they see a lot of foot traffic in these pop-up prayer shops?

The gentleman who was apparently in charge of the “mobile prayer” today was using a microphone attached to a bullhorn to garner attention, singing and preaching his heart out about fire and brimstone and eternal damnation. So you get a show whether you want it or not, when all you’re trying to do is go about your business at the Dollar General Store. But I come back to the same question, is this successful?  Do people look at this RV with its accompanying trailer and say, you know what I need today?  A baptism.

To me, it looks like an obvious (to the audience anyway) trick you’d find in a horror movie where they trap the teenagers who are just a little bit too curious for their own good and then sell their organs on the black market in a gruesome plot twist.

I’m not a church-going person, but even if I were, I’d be hesitant to enter an RV and a makeshift trailer with only one way in and one way out and no windows, no matter how badly I needed to confess or save my God forsaken soul. I’d be more afraid of becoming yet another statistic in the missing persons’ department.

I’ll just stick with Hell, thank you very much. After all, I have a special place waiting for me there.

 

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The Life of Riley

I had to run errands today and while I was driving through the parking lot of my local shopping center, I saw a family, with kids in tow, crossing the aisle to go into the local buffet place. Now why they were going to (presumably) eat at a buffet in this day and age is beyond me, but that’s not the point of the story. The dad in this little family unit was carrying an obviously sleeping child draped across his chest, head resting on the man’s shoulder…not really an infant, but too young to be considered a toddler. It was an adorable scene with the standard cute as a button child all bundled up in a little baby parka (with a hood no less!) and little baby boots.

And it got me thinking. That’s the life, isn’t it? I mean, to be a child again wouldn’t be so horrible. At least, in this scenario. You have minimal worries, oh sure, sometimes life can get frustrating, especially when you can’t open the milk by yourself, but generally speaking, no worries. You just play and eat and throw temper tantrums and best of all, you can just sleep whenever you want to and get carried around everywhere for free, like to the aforementioned buffet. Then when you wake up from your slumber, you may not know how you got to wherever it is you find yourself, but there’s food!

Don’t be a Gatekeeper

Perhaps I’m wrong (no surprise there), but I seem to remember a time when liking things and having hobbies wasn’t something that needed rules. You could casually talk about a TV show at work with your colleagues, you could go to see a band play live without knowing their entire catalog of songs inside and out, or you could watch football without some jerk telling you you’re not a real fan because you don’t know the personal history of every player from the last three decades.

I’ve talked about this before in more depth, but I’m bringing it up again because it sure seems like gatekeeping other people’s fun is gaining more and more steam in society today. Worse than grammar police, gatekeepers take it upon themselves to protect and guard every single hobby, fandom, or interest that anyone anywhere might enjoy by making it clear that you are not a real fan and even if you were, you’ll never know as much about it as they do. Essentially, they’re the gatekeepers of fun. They might as well walk around with a loudspeaker and shout “Stand clear! Casual enjoyment is NOT tolerated here.” It would certainly help people know who they’re dealing with and I, for one, would be thrilled if those red flags flew high. You know, for visibility. 

Some people have an uncontrollable need to make absolutely everything into some sort of competition. Everything you can do, they can do better. Gatekeeping joy is no different.  I’ve thought about why some folks do this, and it really seems like it’s a matter of giving their ego a nice, long, painstaking massage. They want to prove that they’re more of a fan than you. A better fan. A bigger fan, if you will. Most important, they’re desperate to prove you’re not a fan at all. Now, why? Just why? Perhaps, they are a little bit insecure about something themselves, so they just want to appear more knowledgeable, even if that knowledge bank is just Witcher lore or thesis-level data on the original Marvel comics vs the MCU. Or maybe, just maybe, they do it for no other reason than they’re a pain in the ass. There’s a lot of that going around.

What would happen, I wonder, if two of these people met each other? What if two gatekeepers engaged in verbal warfare? Would they both stubbornly pretend they knew more than the other? Would one concede defeat and just pretend they didn’t really care? Is that scenario even possible? Or would they create a standoff for the ages, where an unstoppable force meets an immovable object and both of their superiority complexes combine to create an unbearable, condescending atmosphere? Perhaps the world would explode. In an Earth shattering kaboom, as Marvin would say. 

One of the worst places for this isn’t in real life, though; it’s online, specifically on social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. If you tweet a one-off, harmless opinion about how you think Tom Holland is the best Spiderman, your replies will be full of fandom police telling you that you obviously haven’t seen the original movies with Toby Maguire. Don’t even get me started on Andrew Garfield. If you’re bopping along to Fleetwood Mac and tweet, without thinking, that you thought Rumours was a great follow-up album to their debut, well, I’m sorry, but you’re about to meet an unfortunate demise.

“You fool! The original lineup had way more albums before that! And they were better! Blues is better than pop! Look at this idiot trying to talk about something they know nothing about – so cringe!”

Your common interest with these people about something you both enjoy is lost to the wayside in favor of fandom measuring. I guess you should have known better than to express enjoyment, right? On another note, do we still say “cringe?” 

When did liking things become so stressful? There aren’t supposed to be any rules to liking something. Celebrate the commonality instead of trying to make someone feel lesser than. Share the joy instead of stealing it. Stealing someone’s joy doesn’t make you the golden protector of your chosen fandom. It just makes you an asshole.

truer words were never spoken

Couple Goals at the IHOP

The internet (and probably your mother) can provide you with any number of suggestions to include in your list of couple goals. These range anywhere from putting each other first to knowing each other’s love language to traveling together without killing one another. Some suggest only speaking positively about each other (good luck with that) and talking about your relationship often (yikes!). In the age of Instagram and “perfect” relationships on constant display, finding that groove with your significant other can sometimes seem, well, less than perfect. After my recent trip to the local IHOP, I have a fresh take on my couple goal.

I went to IHOP because they have a new dish, Caramel Apple a la Mode Pancakes. This is exactly what it sounds like, and trust me, it is delicious! But while there, a middle-aged couple was seated next to my table. They both seemed perfectly happy with no argument in sight, and they were both on their phones (gasp!).

I know this image makes some people cringe. People spend too much time on their phones these days. Kids are becoming zombies to the screen, and people aren’t talking to each other anymore. There are games or dinner protocols to try and curb the trend of mealtime phone use. Some groups all put their phones face down on the table, and the first one to look has to buy everyone dinner (talk about having rich friends). Other people won’t allow phones at the table at all. All of that sounds great for most people, but this couple had it figured out.

They looked up to order and then went back to being on their respective phones and didn’t put them down until their dinner came. They sat next to each other rather than across from each other; losing that bit of real estate allowed them to reach out often to touch hands or lean over to place a head on a shoulder. Sometimes they would nudge the other and then share their phone to watch a quick video or read a meme and laugh together. It was adorable, really. And what I strive for in a relationship. No chit-chat. No small talk. Just enjoying each other’s company while perusing memes, scientific journals, craigslist, or whatever. Sounds absolutely pleasant, doesn’t it?

I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of being around an arguing couple. The tension so thick in the room it feels smothering. The animosity between the couple so heavy it weighs down the conversation around them. Snarky comments and disdain sucking the air out of the room. Fun times, right?

What about the couple that’s all goo-goo for each other? The over-the-top Instagram-ready interactions are hard to take seriously. Pet names, baby talk, and constant touches that border on inappropriate in the company of others. I’ve always found there to be a certain inauthenticity to those couples.

Sure, there are many different types of couples, or even the same kinds of couples, but in different moments. We are human and subject to the chaotic fluctuations of emotions when sharing the intimate aspects of life with someone. But seeing this couple at IHOP has offered me new inspiration in what it can look like to couple up with someone.

You may be one of those people that thinks phone use at the table is inappropriate, that it stifles conversation and erodes the foundations of intimacy. But conversations are overrated, and intimacy is displayed in many ways. Give me a partner who loves caramel apple pancakes with a thread of funny memes on the side and the occasional touch of affection. That’s my new couple’s goal.

New Year’s Resolutions? What New Year’s Resolutions?

Another year has passed us by and the year coming… well, let’s just hope for the best, shall we?

They say you should welcome the New Year with a resounding declaration of “a new year, a new me!” This is excellent advice and I just want to take a moment to share my reflections on the past year and the personal changes I have in store for the coming… oh, who am I kidding?

A Cheerful Christmas Story, Or Not

Time for a rant. So, my daughter and I were at the local grocery store the other day and we saw this little girl, maybe 5 years old. Well, first we heard her. We didn’t see her till later. And that would be because she was in the walkway at the end of the cash registers on the floor. You really couldn’t see her unless you looked for her or were say, trying to leave the store (since she was blocking the walkway). You could certainly hear her though.

Being the time of year it is, it was about Christmas. Of course, I mean, it had to be, right? She was repeatedly yelling that she wanted presents for Christmas and for Santa to visit her – all in that whiney little voice that only a child’s own mother can tolerate. I was a little late to the party here, but I gathered from the cashier that this precious little light of mirth had demanded candy or whatever and her mother said no. Not only that, but the mother had chosen to pour a healthy amount of salt in that wound by additionally threatening that Santa wouldn’t visit unless she behaved. Bad move, mommy. That bold-faced lie unleashed the kraken hiding within her doe-eyed daughter turning what may have been a manageable tantrum into full on Krampus fodder displaying itself for all to see on the floor of this grocery store.

We all have our parenting style and I’m not (fully) criticizing what this mother did next. I’m just saying that it’s not something I would do and leave it at that. So, the kid is screaming full blast and this mom, rather than step away from her conversation with the cashier, decided instead to proclaim to the child, “NOW, Santa won’t visit or bring you presents unless you get up off the floor.”  Right.

Well, you would have thought that she’d sent an electric shock straight through the air to this child. The little girl splayed herself across the floor with flailing limbs that resembled an 80’s break-dancer and her voice reached a pitch of whine that I thought only possible in a machine shop. And, almost impossibly (but I swear it’s true), her repeated demand that Santa must visit her and must bring her presents, got even louder. It was truly a sight to behold.

Unfortunately, the first possible collateral damage entered the scene in the form of an elderly woman who had had enough and had decided that no matter how curious she might be to see if this demon girl’s head was going to start spinning she’s got other things to do and tried to make her way out of the store. She had to gingerly make her way past this kid without having a leg taken out from under her and breaking a hip. Wonder what Santa would’ve said about that!?

And the mom of this lovely floor ornament? Well, the mother, to her credit, was not the least bit fazed or concerned, certainly not enough to become a proactive participant in this wild scene. In fact, you’d barely know she had a child at all. Instead of physically removing the child from the aisle so the elderly woman could get by safely (which would have been the LEAST of my kids’ problems had this been them), she simply continued repeating her mantra… “Santa won’t visit unless you get off the floor” from the relative safety of the checkout line. What kind of idiotic bribery is this? Good grief, the parenting skills that people use today! Oh wait…skills imply talent or useful abilities. Scratch that. Good grief, what passes as parenting these days! Is this one of those feral children I’ve heard so much about?

I mean, really? Let’s do a little play-by-play. First the girl misbehaves. Next, mom pulls out the Santa’s Watching card. So of course, the girl’s natural reaction is to throw herself down on the floor. Santa’s watching after all, right? Magically though, now Santa visits tantrum throwing kids just so long as they don’t throw their tantrum while flailing about on the floor or take out the elderly woman trying to exit stage left. Oh wait. Okay, well, just so long as you don’t take out the elderly woman, you’re golden. Talk about a bit of holiday spirit perversion. I think Santa would be appalled if he knew he was being used in this manner. I’ve always had a thing for Krampus and I think this may be why.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall of that household when the natural dynamic of this mother and child hits the teenage years. Now that should be a party! Bet Santa’s invite to that one gets lost in the mail.

Living the Wrong Life

I’m a reasonably confident person. I mean, I’ve made it this far in life and am still alive and mostly well. That has to count for something, right? Right!? Oh, sure, I’m awkward and filled with anxiety, and social situations are not exactly my thing. I still can’t make homemade seitan, but I didn’t think I was doing something wrong at EVERY turn. Now, thanks to the internet and yahoos with too much time on their hands, I’m not so sure.

Unfortunately, we are probably all pretty familiar with the articles and videos telling us how we’ve been doing such and such all wrong. They’re everywhere you look, so you end up viewing them whether you want to or not. These helpful how-to PSAs break down even the most basic tasks and rub in our faces how we have totally misunderstood items and their functions, things obviously so simple.

Peeling a banana. Apparently, monkeys know how to do this right way; it’s most humans that don’t. Peel it from the bottom to avoid squishing it. Perhaps this says even less about me, but upon application I learned that I can squish this fine yellow (and I would say inherently squishy) fruit no matter which end I peel it from.

I guess the same goes for slicing French bread. Flip that baby over and slice from the bottom, so it doesn’t get mushed. Based on my performance with the banana, I’m guessing that won’t be the case for me. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’d rather not look too deeply into that one.

Hold a wine glass by the stem to avoid any unwanted warming from body heat. Okay, that one I knew. I do like my wine. But I still don’t follow this advice. Did I mention I’m awkward?  And clumsy?  And uncoordinated?  Yeah, it’s not a good idea for me to gracefully hold a wine glass by its stem… not if I want to maintain a steady grip on the delicate glassware, that is.  Because I have no grace. I think I’ve made that clear. And what tends to happen is the glass, much like myself when walking up steps, gets top heavy and tips over. Sometimes it happens slowly, which is pretty funny whether it’s me on the steps or the glass of wine on a white carpet, and then other times, it just happens with a sudden plop. Either way, it’s a mess. So, warm wine it is.

This one completely baffles me for a variety of reasons. Take the drawer under the oven, you know, the one where you store the pans and lids? Apparently, that is a warming drawer for keeping that green bean casserole warm while waiting for the main dish to finish baking. Now, I don’t know about your drawer, but mine seems to attract crumbs and dust, and other unsavory particles from the cooking, um, environment. How does a person keep those tidbits out of the drawer? I’d also rather not store any food I’m about to eat on the same level as my feet and dust bunnies, thank you very much. Also, perhaps a more relevant question, where in the hell do you keep all those pans and lids if not in that bottom drawer? Who has that kind of cabinet space?

Chinese take-out boxes are meant to be unfolded and used as a plate. I’ve seen countless actors and actresses on screen dig their forks and chopsticks into those boxes. Never once have I seen them unfold it and eat their dinner like a civilized person. I’m going to blame Hollywood for my ignorance there.

Speaking of messy foods, this next one is perhaps my favorite. I would argue there is no wrong way to eat a cupcake, but there is a way to avoid the icing mustache. This technique also lets you avoid the disappointment of being left with the not-as-exciting-and-delicious layer of un-frosted cake. Peel the paper, slice the cupcake halfway up from the bottom, take that bottom layer, flip it over on top of the icing, and press down. Voila, a cupcake sandwich!

You can go down your own rabbit hole of videos and articles on how wrong you’ve been doing things all your life. Of course, there are the classics like which way to set up the toilet paper roll and how to properly hang a shirt (apparently that little loop of fabric on the back is there for a reason), but I recently learned that I haven’t even been eating potato chips correctly! And with as much practice as I get, this revelation came as a surprise.

I try not to put too much stock into being told how wrong I am all the time by folks I don’t even know. I mean, hell, I get that enough from people I do know.  Seriously though, who needs the stress? I like to think I’ve lived a reasonably successful life. I mean, I get up in the morning and manage to make it through each day relatively well and sane despite eating squished bananas and drinking warm wine.

But, I do love the idea of cupcake sandwiches.