Superstition Mission

This weekthe Herald asked writers to embark on a day of purposefully breaking superstitions and recording what transpired. Though no one convinced a bird to poop on them or rubbed their face against a rabbit’s foot, things still got a little freaky.

Illustration by Annie Yan

On Nov. 1, Spooky Season officially ended. But try as I might, I wasn’t ready to give it up. With all of America ready to summon Mariah Carey for the approaching Christmas holidays, it was up to me to find the creepy crawly kick I was still craving. And so, in an effort to relive the Halloween high, I decided to face some superstitions head on, hoping for the best. Or maybe the worst? If the worst meant spooky, then that’s what I was after.

1.  Walking Under a Ladder

As I passed under the ladder, I stopped. I was struck, suddenly, by the beauty of the form that I found myself in. It’s not often enough that we think about an isosceles triangle. Like, two sides of equal length and the third of a different length? Literally stunning. And to disrespect that? To disrespect that ladder, which was putting in serious work standing there to form such an exquisite triangular form, but merely walking under it — I couldn’t do it. Spooky? I am. Sacrilegious? I am not.

2.  Spilling Salt

I was minding my own business, eating my Yale Dining chana masala, when disaster struck — salt spilled, and right into my plate! Excited at the prospect of impending spookiness, I hurried to finish my meal. But my next bite stopped me in my tracks. It was really good. Like really frickin’ good.

3.  Breaking a Mirror

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to craft. Breaking the mirror didn’t bring anything scary into my life, but it did provide the ultimate crafting opportunity. Mirror mosaic is looking good!

4.  Opening an Umbrella Inside

Opening an umbrella felt like a fool-proof way to find the superstitious blowback I was looking for. At the very worst, I figured that I would at least look weird to the passersby. And things were going well. Nothing spooky happened, and I definitely looked crazy. But then, the fire alarm went off, and the sprinklers rained water down, soaking the hallway. Everyone and everything got wet, except me.

5.  Seeing a Black Cat

The night after I saw the black cat on the street, I had a dream that I was in Cats. I was looking for spooky, not terrifying.

My hunt for a little October fun in November was, resoundingly, a failure. No matter how much I tried, everything even remotely scary — but like, in a fun way — just wasn’t having it. Perhaps Mariah is already too powerful, and I should be spending my time listening to “All I Want for Christmas is You” instead.

— Griffin Berlin, JE ’21

I believe in superstitions when convenient. Part of me thinks they’re silly. Part of me thinks Co-Star is omniscient. Does that make me superstitious or a little stitious? Does it make for good journalism? Let’s find out.

This Wednesday (Nov. 6), I broke as many superstitions as I could in one day to see what would happen.

PRE-DAY LUCK:

It was a casual Tuesday, with luck levels starting at a solid ★★★★. I did some reading in Book Trader — a classic move. Everything was cool until mid-study I reached for a sip of water, and noticed something fluttering. It was a wasp! A fully grown wasp. Inside. I got up in shock and looked around. The whole time I was doing this, nobody looked over. Still unclear whether I imagined this. My luck dropped by, like, three stars.

Eventually the wasp disappeared. But then another girl with a shaved head (I have a shaved head) sat next to me. It was upsetting. I’m gonna say I ended the day with ★★★ luck.

DAY-OF LUCK:

Starting the day still at a solid ★★★. I made a list of everything Wikipedia could tell me about superstitions in the morning before going out, and wrote down what happened every time I found/did something unlucky. I tried to go for a-religious signs of bad luck I already knew about. Here’s what transpired, aided by the Notes app:

1. Stepping on cracks: I stepped on so many cracks. My mother’s back is no worse than it was yesterday. Though I did trip a couple times.

2. Walking under ladders: Couldn’t find any ladders. I walked under one of those construction scaffolds. I survived.

3. Black cats: Saw no black cats. I did sneak a cup of black coffee into Haas. It was a poor choice. Nobody said anything, but I know I’m a dirty, dirty person for doing it. My luck probably dropped to ★★, because that’s what I deserve.

4. Breaking mirrors: I have pieces of broken mirror all over my wall already. I broke another piece. There’s now glass dust all over my room. Pretty glass dust. Luck’s back up, baby: ★★★.

5. Shoes on tables: I did it, but this one is just plain rude.

6. Spilling salt/pepper: This one is also rude. I don’t deserve my luck stars.

7. Opening umbrellas inside: I lost my umbrella soon after this. If you find her… Luck was deffo at a .

8. Ladybugs: A sign of good luck. I saw one hanging on the frame of a photo. I went to pick her up. She was dead. I think the luck angels took their leave at this point.

9. Seeing fish: Didn’t know this was a superstition, but Wikipedia says it is. Tonight I discovered [REDACTED] has pet shrimp in the [REDACTED] basement. They are terrifyingly large. I agree with Wikipedia. It was bad.

10. Losing a wishbone break: I hate losing. It was a bummer.

11. Cutting fingernails after dark: I forgot to cut my pinky nail. Embarrassing or fashionable? I’m going to say I gained a luck ★ here. Rewarding myself for being bold. Luck level: ★★

12. Picking up pennies: Saw one outside of Book Trader (I need to stop going there. Too much baggage). I didn’t pick it up. I really wanted to, but I didn’t.

13. The number 13: I wrote it on my hand. All day people kept asking why. Good or bad source of attention? Giving myself another star for brave stylistic choices. My day ended with, like, ★★ luck.

POST-DAY LUCK:

I did some more research on omens, and apparently, seeing your doppelgänger is considered to be bad luck. It did make me feel less secure. Don’t know if insecurity has to do with luck, though. I have yet to feel any remarkable effects from yesterday, though a couple spooky things happened:

  • I tried to get the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. The line was too long. I left and ate Dunkin instead. My plebeian stomach can never handle Dunkin.

Otherwise, everything was supernatural as always. I don’t like going around tempting fate. Although, I wonder if I would’ve thought twice about today’s indigestion had I not been looking out for bad signs. I think what the universe tells me is more or less up to me. If I hate my shaved head, the universe is gonna encourage me to hate my shaved head.

Final luck level: ??? I have no idea how many stars I get for that realization.

— Caramia Putman, BF ’22

Leave a Reply