My building doesn’t have a 13th floor.
I think about that a lot. The fact that a structure finished in 2016 contains an entire story with the wrong label purely on the basis of superstition.
It’s an especially silly superstition, because really, the people on the 14th are on the 13th. And the people on the 15th are on the 14th. And so on.
But apparently, enough people are so deeply affected by a double-digit prime number that the marketing folks apparently decided against installing a one and a three in the elevator, and nixed the unit numbers too.
Here we are, too, on Friday on the 13th. An increasingly outdated horror franchise, and a confluence of dates that apparently has enough spiritual power that a little over one in ten Americans reports being petrified by it.
I’m not trying to sound smug (though lord knows I have a resting smug face and resting smug writing style). I definitely have no moral high ground here. I love Myers Briggs tests, and those are basically just horoscopes for people pretending to be smart.
The thing is, I don’t think any of us are fully rational people. Sure, you can talk to a smug humanist, hear about how totally above religion they are, but I’m willing to bet you get a few drinks in them they’ll be talking about their crystals and aura alignment faster than you can say “goop me harder Gwyneth.”
And I’m no exception. On top of my shameful embrace of Myers Briggs (I’m the same personality as Tywin Lannister, which I think explains a lot (it doesn’t)), I am STILL hung up about someone writing a fortune in my high school yearbook that reads like a hex, warning me I will forever be alone in love but lucky in money and career.
Did this person suck? Yes. Do I absolutely still get hung up on it, 20 years later? Also yes.
Right now, the world desperately needs us to be rational. We have a pandemic, global warming, murder hornets, and I fully expect a plague of Kardasshians to rain down next.
But these are surmountable problems, so long as we put our heads together and do rational things. Get vaccinated. Burn less (or ideally no) coal. Track and trace the murder hornets back to their nests (oddly, this is the same strategy for that likely Kardasshian plague).
So why is it so dang HARD to do that?
I think, to an extent, we find it comforting to believe in things outside our control. It’s because so often things seem that way. I’m talking global problems here, in a smoke-filled city, with the sun baking down and people wearing masks, and all of that is just A BIT MUCH OKAY FRANCINE?
That’s why we compartmentalize. And I think the quirky weirdness of bad luck days like today, Freaky Friday, seems oddly nice to think about. If the badness is just gonna happen on this day, and only this day, we can chalk it up to cosmic whimsy.
By that same token though, I think we should start limiting our whacky intake. I think it’s okay to cut loose now and again. Blame it on the leprechauns. Get our tarot cards done. Come home with a really awful tattoo of a Chinese character that the artist claims is “fortune” but really says “asshat.”
It’s when we let those things rule us, though, that it goes a bit far. When the buildings keep saying “no 13th floor,” that’s when I start to wonder if maybe we need to take a step back and chill out.
At that point, we’re living a lie. We know the 13th floor is the 14th floor. At that point, it’s denial.
Take the gentle wonders on the nose, but come back to the rational meat space on Monday, you know?
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I get that in a world where sometimes it’s a little hard to believe the unbelievable, to be rational in the face of stressful, overwhelming times, we can glom onto easy answers. “It’s Friday the 13th that made me do it.”
But really, take those days in small doses.
Take your vaccine in prescribed amounts.
And don’t let the goofy stuff overwhelm you.