I’ll set the scene for you: I’m on the phone, I’m looking for a pen. I walk into the room that my husband and I share (he uses his half as office space, I use my half as sewing space and general dumping ground for the things which have no home elsewhere). I stop. I look at his desk. My heart starts thumping.
There is a PAIR OF SHOES on his DESK.
‘So, what?’ you may ask.
This is HORRIFYING to me.
Not for the hygiene issues. Not for the fact that something is out-of-place. It’s the fact that shoes are on the table…and that’s BAD LUCK.
Yes. I am one of those women who, despite being an intelligent, (mostly) together person, despite my deep faith in science and fact and reason, is ridiculously superstitious.
The shoe thing isn’t even one of my original superstitions, that was inherited from my Husband’s side of the family. No, mine are too numerous to list, but I’ll name a few:
Stepping on cracks in the pavement, opening crisp bags the right way up, counting the stairs as I go up and down, not stepping on single drains, or rows of three drains (two in a row is okay, in fact that’s good luck), saluting magpies, touching wood after saying something iffy, and on and on and on.
The magpies are the worst. If I were walking along a crowded street, totally alone, my compulsion to salute a lone magpie is so strong that I would still do it. I’ve had days where I didn’t salute in time and was convinced something bad was going to happen. On the flip side, I’ve had days where I’ve seen multiple sets of two magpies together throughout the day, and have been convinced all day that something great was going to happen. I’ve bought lottery tickets on the strength of magpie sightings.
And it all seems so ridiculous. Sometimes, I have an almost out-of-body experience and see myself, walking along the street, dodging drains, saluting magpies, avoiding cracks and I think “Wow, if I knew me, I would avoid me”. I must look like a drunkard or an escaped mental patient, swaying along, waving my arms around. But even this realisation isn’t enough to stop me.
Because, and this is the really mental part; I’m convinced that if I stop, that will be the moment that I find out that it was true, all along, and bad things will start to happen. And at the risk of being a bit too controversial, isn’t that how the church sucked all those people in all those years ago?!
“We can’t prove that there’s a man in the sky, listening to our prayers and causing natural disasters, but you’d best believe in him, JUST IN CASE.”
Seems a bit silly when you put it like that, doesn’t it? But I’m not here for a theological debate.
I wonder if there will ever be a time when I’ll be, er, well, sane enough to stop all of these little avoidances, which probably make my day just a smidge harder than it really needs to be? But if I’m honest, I can’t see an end in sight. Because there’s always the ‘what if?’. There’s still a minute, infinitesimal chance that it does work and if I stop, a plane will crash down on me when I pop to the shops to get some milk… *touches wood*.
So until someone can unequivocally prove to me that my hopping and saluting DOESN’T work, I think I’ll carry on.
Just in case.