Last Friday was Friday the 13th! So what? You don't actually believe that bullshit, do you? Apparently, you do. Or at least a lot of you do.
According to Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., as reported in National Geographic, approximately $800 million to $900 million is lost in business on Friday the 13th because people won't fly or do business they'd otherwise do. Dossey estimates that Friday-the-13th phobia gets the better of 17 million to 21 million people in the United States. Symptoms range from anxiety to panic attacks that can cause people to miss work and stay in their homes.
I don't know if San Diego is more or less superstitious than other places, but I'd guess we're at least less superstitious than Asheville, N.C., dubbed by CBS a "new age Mecca." Dossey must have his hands full in Asheville, helping the crystal-rubbers get over their irrational fear of parts of the calendar. Nor do I know if we have a phobia institute in San Diego, but let me see if I can help:
You're acting like a ridiculous toddler!
Of course, you're not the first generation of fraidy-cats. If you poke around the netosphere, you'll learn that Friday has been considered an unlucky day since way back when leeches were medicine and the Earth revolved around the church. Thirteen is similarly born of a desperate time when pre-scientific humans looked for patterns and causes in everything. According to Snopes.com, the associations with bad luck of both Friday and 13 are "obscured by the mists of time." There are all sorts of nutty theories about what Jesus did on this or that Friday or how a dozen is a super-nifty and symmetrical number that a 13th thing or person just wrecks, and so on.
But remember, it's all just superstitious claptrap, and the origins of these phobias are like the origins of the fear of black cats, opening an umbrella in the house or randomly walking up to someone much bigger than you and stomping on their foot: They're rooted in an attempt to identify a causal relationship between disparate events culled from the substance of the unknowable universe. But can't we just stick to the ones based in science and common sense and do away with the stupid ones?
It reminds me of the other morning on my way to work when I went to the drive-through coffee cart and the girl who works there said she saw a ghost sitting beside me in my car when I pulled up to the cart. I pointed out that my jacket was draped over the passenger seat to keep it from getting wrinkled, but that didn't really seem to reassure her all that much.
"Don't you believe in spirits, Dave?" she asked.
Yes, particularly whiskey and tequila, I thought.
"No," I said. "I believe that draping my jacket over the seat so it doesn't get wrinkled makes it look like a person."
Maybe I can further dispel you of your quaint Friday-the-13th phobia by pointing out how random everything is. If Friday the 13th had any veracity as a day of bad luck, the day would be fraught with an inordinate amount of shittiness.
So, what really happened on Friday the 13th? "The Padres lost!" Yeah, and the Dodgers won. Just because you were unlucky doesn't mean everyone was. And according to Fox News, "41 people in San Diego were bitten by stingrays that day!" Sure, and 1,326,138 San Diegans weren't.
And you know what else happened? Awesome things! Comic-Con started. Everybody loves Comic-Con. And remember Abby the pit bull, who was bitten by a rattlesnake in Escondido on Thursday? On Friday the 13th, it was reported that she would recover completely!
And Friday the 13th in San Diego marked the kickoff of the 25th annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, one of the most stupendous things that ever happens in this unforgiving town.
Local news outlets all reported how on Friday the 13th, former armed-services members living on the streets could stop by San Diego High School and get everything from free access to showers, food, medical care, legal aide, job training and other services. With the number of homeless veterans in San Diego County on the rise—28 percent of the total homeless population—these services are more needed than ever. Some 3,700 volunteers helped out, including many active-duty service members.
Stand Down was started in 1988 by Veterans Village of San Diego, and since then, 200 Stand Downs have been organized across the country. For vets who are down on their luck, Friday the 13th in San Diego was probably not the unluckiest day of the year so far.
Legendary crime writer Jim Thompson, author of The Killer Inside Me, lived in San Diego in the 1940s and '50s. He also wrote a column on local culture for The San Diego Journal. And, no, it was not called The Killer Inside a Whale's Vagina. Thompson once wrote a column like this one, dispelling the myth of Friday the 13th by talking about some good things that happened in San Diego on that day. A lot of good it did! It's a shame that I had to do this again. Will you never learn, San Diego?
Hey, I just thought of another good thing about Friday, July 13—it was my birthday! I had a horrible cold and spent the whole day in bed. And it rained.