Lucky Friday the 13th

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Paraskevidekatriaphobics – it’s a big word that describes the people who have an irrational fear of Friday the 13th, a day considered throughout history to be the unluckiest day of the year.

Even today the myth continues: 80 percent of elevators in tall buildings have no 13th floor button, visits to the emergency rooms increase dramatically on this day, and the Atlanta airport has no 13th gate.

Not that an additional gate would make any difference. It still takes forever to get through security, the flights aren’t on time, and my lost luggage from our last trip is still lost.

Go to a hotel, and you won’t find room 13. There’s no race car with the number 13, and no major league ball player dares to wear a jersey sporting the infamous number.

There are 12 full moons in a year, but on those rare times there’s an extra one, it’s called a Blue Moon. And in France it was considered unlucky to have a dinner party with 13 guests, so a socialite known as a quatorzien (“fourteener”) was on call to make sure it never happened. Only the French could pay someone to sit around and do nothing.

The Wife and I are going to have a dinner party next month. I wonder if President Obama’s $850 billion stimulus bill has any earmarks for quatorziens. Nevertheless, for me, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day thanks to that wonderful day in Old Mrs. Crabtree’s fifth-grade class.

If you disregard the fact that it was Friday the 13th, the day was like any other school day. In the morning Mrs. Crabtree tried to teach us math, history, and writing. Right after lunch we had English.

At least I think that’s what Mrs. Crabtree was teaching; I usually slept through most of that portion of her class.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like English, mind you. Learning how to diagram a sentence was truly a riveting experience, and something I’ve used every day of my adult life.

The simple fact was English came right after lunch. And the way the lunch ladies piled food on your tray, it took a lot of energy to eat all of it. A short nap back in the classroom and I was all rested up for P.E. and Coach Reeves.

Being ready to run was important when we were let out for P.E. class. Not because of anything Coach Reeves wanted us to do, but in my case, if I didn’t run fast enough, Down the Street Bully Brad would catch me. Usually he did, and after the pounding, he’d get sent to the office and had to sit there for the rest of the day. I’d just do a lot of bleeding.

On that Friday the 13th, everything changed, Bully Brad was making fun of Candi, and I had to put a stop to it.

Candi had been my girlfriend since the third grade, at least I thought so, and today was the day I had chosen to tell her. When I got to the playground, Bully Brad was standing over by the dodgeball pit right in front of Candi teasing her. She was crying, so without thinking, I ran over and plowed right into him.

We both tumbled into the dodgeball pit; arms, legs, and sand went everywhere. We rolled around, and somehow I ended on top and proceeded to punch Bully Brad right in the face.

Before he even got off a punch, Coach Reeves pulled us apart. He sent Brad to the office and made me sit out the rest of recess. Just before we went back in to Mrs. Crabtree, Candi walked over, gave me a hug, kissed me on my cheek and said, “Thanks.”

That afternoon I found out I had awakened long enough from my after-lunch nap to make a 100 on my English test.

From that day on I’ve considered Friday the 13th to be my lucky day.

Now getting into a fight without thinking is something I really don’t recommend. I was just lucky things worked out the way they did. We’ve all seen what could happen when you or your intelligence is wrong.

President Obama is an elegant orator, but sometimes – like with Bully Brad – actions speak louder and harder than words. I just hope he realizes that.

When it comes to foreign affairs, dealing with terrorists, and getting into fights, sometimes talking with a bully isn’t the best way. Sometimes all a bully really understands is a punch in the face.

Hopefully, if that day comes, whether it’s on Friday the 13th or not, we’re the ones throwing the first punch, and the punching is being done over in their sandbox.

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