Superstitions: Join them if you can’t beat them!
“So what did you get Minna for Christmas?” my wife breathlessly asks Andrew, in his sixth month of marriage.
“Christian Louboutin boots, top of the line,” he reports, in resignation, bracing for her barrage of questions.
“Boots!” she shrieks, penetrating my bubble of selective jamming and nearly blowing all my cardiac fuses. As usual, she has the speaker button on, top volume, so I don’t miss the smallest detail of her all-important teleconference designed to spoon feed and micromanage her offspring, a survivor on Wall Street.
“Yeah. Knee high, black leather, mirrored heel platform, stylish and dashing, fit to grace royalty. Minna really likes them and will wear them to our company Christmas party.”
“Take them back and get the refund!”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“New shoes means she may walk away for good.”
“Oh come on, Mom, that’s superstition. How can you, a Christian, get hung up on superstitions like that?”
“No, it’s not superstition but science, based on statistics or something, I am sure. This thing about shoes is common knowledge in Korea. In the latest Korean drama Thrice Married…”
“Your Korean dramas! You should watch more American TV. This is America and Korean superstitions don’t work here.”
“No, it’s American as well. One of my best customers, Caucasian, mainland born and bred but now living in Hawaii Kai, walked in the store only yesterday to order two $150 Christmas centerpieces for a party at his house and said he wouldn’t buy his girlfriend designer shoes, though on sale at Neiman Marcus, because she might walk away.”
“That’s a girlfriend, not a wife. Anyway I can’t return them even if I wanted to. We got them at half price, final sale.”
“What was the full price?”
“Oh, no,” my wife groans.
“Yeah, I am stuck with them, so forget all about your superstition.”
“Did you buy them by yourself or did Minna go with you to choose?” she demands, in desperate search for a way out of the looming financial and/or personal disaster for her child.
“Of course she went with me. How would I know what to pick?”
“Then it’s a household purchase, grocery shopping, no gift,” she shouts in triumph. Without refuting them head on, she always manages somehow to wiggle out of the box she puts herself in with her myriads of taboos and bans. “Go buy another gift, any gift, but make sure it’s returnable, after Christmas.”
“Okay, Mom,” Andrew surrenders reluctantly, uncertain about the ethics of the return but wise enough to agree to Christian Louboutin’s demotion to groceries. Otherwise the jinx gratuitously brought to his attention would weigh on his mind, no matter how much his intellect might reject and deride it. When dealing with unknowables like luck, better go along with the crowd. Join them if you can’t beat them: no renting on the 13th floor, no walking under a ladder, no gifting shoes if you want the recipient to hang around, and so forth and so on. He sure knows he can’t beat his mother who won’t get off the phone, until she has her way.