Somewhere along the winding twisty path of life, I lost my superstitious nature. I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, or how, but at some point I stopped believing in luck, fate, karma, curses, hexes, voodoo and the state Moneyball Lotto.
Looking back, it all makes sense now. Belief in those sorts of things implies faith in some sort of universal order — a cosmic cause-and-effect, what-goes-around-comes-around, I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I perpetual game of tallying the scores between every creature, concept and corporation and making sure it all comes out even. What’s more, it suggests some level of control — or at least a meek influence — over this wildly elaborate and grotesquely Goldbergesque scheme of punishment and reward, simply by throwing salt over your shoulder or avoiding breaking a mirror.
Frankly, I think it’s much simpler than that. Four decades on the planet have taught me that shit falls apart, often at the least convenient time. The cosmos isn’t looking out for me, or “out to get me”; that’s just what it does. And a decade-plus each of marriage and dog ownership have shown me that I have no “control” to speak of. I can keep my fingers crossed for days on end; it won’t change my luck. It might give me arthritis, but that’s not luck. That’s arthritis.
You might think it sad to have put aside such a whimsical slice of human existence. Perhaps it is — but it’s also pretty damned liberating. There’s so much less to worry about, once you realize there’s nothing much you can do about most of what used to worry you. When “everything happens for a reason“, it’s worth scurrying around to find those reasons, to influence them, to understand their subtle implications.
When you move on to “shit happens“, shit just happens. Maybe you have some say in it, and probably you don’t. And most probably, you’ll never see it coming in quite the way you thought you would.
So why ponder such abstractions tonight? As usual, it’s a symptom of grief. Many people tend to wax philosophical when dealing with loss, and I’m no different. It’s how we cope with something unpleasant — like, say, when our team has just lost the Super Bowl. Just for instance. Not that I’m bitter. I’m just saying. Goddammit.
Of course, other people have different ways of coping. Take my wife, for instance. She might have something more visceral, more confrontational in mind. Like earlier tonight, when she noticed — while I changed from my “I’m a big boy” work clothes into some comfy sweats — that I was wearing my referee boxers recently mentioned in this space. She huffed, and said:
“I’m no magician or shaman or dude who can see the matrix and fly like sunglassed Superman and yank bullets out of PVC-clad hotties’ boobs.”
‘Well, maybe if you’d worn your football panties on Sunday, we’d have won that game!‘
Now, I don’t think she was being literal. My wife is not so much the superstitious sort, either.
(She couldn’t be, really. The girl owned a black cat for most the years she was growing up. Unless she took some ridiculously circuitous Family Circle route to the bathroom every morning, she was crossing its path. Constantly.
And look how it turned out for her — she’s grown up just fine, with a good job, good friends, and… uh, married to me.
Okay, so fine. Maybe she ought to be just a little superstitious. Shaddup.)
I think she was just venting her frustration in a game that we both invested a lot of time and cheering and three bowls of bean dip in. But it did come off a bit aggressive.
(Though to be fair, it also represented a new plateau in our relationship. It might well be the first time that she saw me wearing a pair of underpants on a Tuesday and just assumed that I hadn’t also worn them on Sunday.
Now, that’s love, baby. Or some reasonable facsimile thereof.)
I patiently explained my feelings on most of the above to her. What I wear, I said, or how I act or think or feel or hope, has no bearing on a sporting event happening hundreds of miles away. I’m no magician or shaman or dude who can see the matrix and fly like sunglassed Superman and yank bullets out of PVC-clad hotties’ boobs.
And anyway, the day my choice of underwear can influence the activities of fifty-three men six states away is the day I want off this ride. Because it’s gone seriously, seriously weird.
So we agreed to disagree — both about whose fault our team’s loss was and about how to go about moving on. I’m trying to forget it ever happened. She’s snarking about my underwear. By the time football season rolls around again, we’ll probably be ready for another roller coaster ride. And next Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll be sure to wear the correct underwear.
Which is the ones with the little Matrix characters on it. They may not help our team win, but I’ll have the snazziest ‘panties’ at the party, at least. Call me superstitious, but that’s got to help me ‘get lucky’ eventually, right?
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