|I'm not scared. Do I look scared? Why are you scared?|
photo by LouevilBelle via Flickr
Many years ago, when I had only two children, and they were very small, I would escape some Saturdays and go to a writers group meeting in which we read and critiqued one another's work.
I say escaped only mildly teasingly. I did need to escape, as I was an at-home mother and as others can testify, we needed breaks. I never even had a babysitter. I tried a few times, but never felt comfortable leaving my children with people I barely knew. I was, and still am, an introvert with few (okay, no) friends, so I did not have anyone to leave my children with other than my husband.
That was a tangent, wasn't it? The point is, I was at this writers group meeting and I'm pretty sure I'd read something that day because this younger, nerdy girl approached me after the critique session. I can't imagine why she'd have done it if I hadn't read that day so that's the story I'm going with.
Back then, I wrote dreadful, morose, immature stories. Nowadays, as Dianna Dann anyway, I write morose mature stories. Very different, I assure you.
So, this girl said something to me about how her life was destined to be tragic. I'm totally making that up, but it must be what she said, because she told me why, and this part I remember very well.
She said, "Well, I was born on a Friday the 13th, so..."
And I laughed.
She said it almost as if it were a badge of honor. As if there weren't a million other people on the planet born on a Friday the 13th. She was special, even though it meant she was going to have to live a tragic life, at least there was a reason for it and she was special. Because special is what you want to be when you can't be like everybody else.
I had to laugh, really. It wasn't so much that I was not superstitious. I don't think I have ever in my life been superstitious. I've always known that crap happens to stupid people almost always because they're stupid and sometimes just because crap happens. And crap happens to smart people, good people, even careful people, because of that second reason: crap just happens.
But there was another reason I laughed at her. I said, "My son was born on a Friday the 13th, so for me, it's a very lucky day."
I probably tell this story every Friday the 13th, but I'm sure not everyone has heard it so I'll keep telling it.
I like to think I said some other things to her--reassuring, perhaps profound things--in an effort to give her hope, to make her see that while our lives can be tragic, we can't give in to an inevitability that, while it may make us think we're somehow special in a world where we are, in fact, ignored (I told you she was really nerdy, didn't I?)--an inevitability that might lead us to turn away from opportunities at happiness.
Because this is what superstition can do to people. It can allow them to accept the bad and turn away from the good, because it was written in the stars and there's nothing they can do about it.
Yeah, I probably tried to say something like that. Truth is, she was very young and probably grew out of it and went on to write creepy vampire fanfic and maybe she's published today. Or maybe she's on the streets strung out on heroin, prostituting herself for the next fix, and telling the junkie next to her it was bound to come to this, because Friday the 13th, you know.