Every holiday - even the ones manufactured by Hallmark and Hershey's - has a mascot, and they are all instantly recognizable. And whether it’s Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a turkey, a leprechaun, or Jon Lovitz in a rabbi outfit, no one needs to be told to which holiday each character corresponds. Even tomorrow, Valentine's Day, has Cupid, and today, Friday the 13th, has Jason Voorhees. Maybe the 13th isn't much of a holiday, but it certainly bears significance to some people, namely all those paraskevidekatriaphobics (people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th).
With one statisitc claiming as many as 21 million people believe in the evil mojo of Friday the 13th, I'd venture to guess that should some industrious entreprenuer start marketing the day as a reason to give rabbit foots to loved ones and broken mirrors to enemies, in 15 years time we might have a new holiday tradition. After all, such mainstays as Halloween and tomorrow's Valentine's Day, each flimsily legitimized by ancient myths (not all that different from something like, say, a franchise of horror movies) come complete with cottage industries. Americans are held hostage by these dates when the calendar demands we buy candy and cards, masks and flowers, tricks and treats. Why should another potential holiday be dismissed when there are enough people out there with wallets to bleed dry?
But the prolific, creative greed of this country is not the point of this column. Instead, let's focus on this rare incidence of Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day falling on consecutive dates and occuring in the same weekend. The juxtaposition of the two holidays brings some strange imagery to mind, not the least of which is that of a lunatic in a hockey mask slaughtering winged babies. But rather than dwell on their differences, which are legion, let's consider the similarities between them. I know that there isn't anything immediately analogous about a cherub that pierces hearts with arrows of love and a madman that pierces hearts with machetes of hate, but they do have some. Such as their mutual reliance on some self-delusion.
It’s safe to say that anyone who believes in and “observes” Friday the 13th is probably pretty superstitious. By the same token, any of those people out there that live and die by such romantic notions as “love at first sight” and “soul mates” and “destiny”, well, they’ve got their heads up superstition’s ass too. And odds are those people love themselves some Valentine's Day.
On top of that, the terror and violence that Friday the 13th instills isn’t that different from the dread and depression that can be spawned by an unconsummated Valentine’s Day. You think the Valentine’s Day Massacre was the result of circumstance? Hell no; Capone had blue balls. The holiday was born from some sadsack's romantic love notes that he sent while awaiting execution! The details of Valentine's Day's origin are filled with as much violence and pain as tender longing. And nowadays, there’s an angry, berserk, probably envious sociopath taking aim at every sap who's snuggling with and feeding candy to his sweetie pie. I don’t have the numbers to back me up, but I’ll bet there are more random killings every year than there are cases of “true love”.
Perhaps you’ve noticed or perhaps you haven’t, but I’m not the superstitious type. Aside from knocking wood and sporting the occasional rally cap, I don’t truck with no witches. I don’t think black cats are evil, I don’t run in fear if I see a hat on a bed, and I just love to break mirrors (with my fists. While drunk). And that lack of superstition isn’t all that dissimilar from my lack of romanticism, another trait you may also have sussed out from reading my columns. Now, that's not to say that I'm heartless or unsentimental, I just don't believe in fate or "there's someone out there for all of us" or any of that hogwash.
But I want to believe. It'd be great to be struck speechless at the sight of some chick across the bar and I’d love to match up our last names and discover, through the magic of numerology, that we’re meant to be together. But I’m not out of my mind. I don’t think that Mercury being in retrograde and Virgo's moon having had a vasectomy means I’m going to get hot and heavy with a Gemini this month. At least not any more than I'm worried that stepping on a crack will break my mother's back.
Both romanticism and superstition depend on a certain level of fantasy and make-believe. Magic doesn’t exist, neither to link your fate with that special someone nor to curse your soul for walking under a ladder. What exists are coincidence and happenstance. If you happen to run into the same hottie at the video store over and over again, it’s not because your love is written in the stars, it’s because you’re both morons who have yet to discover Netflix. And, despite the media's constant alerts, nothing actually happens if the groom sees the bride in her gown before the wedding ceremony.
But it's better safe than sorry, right? It can't hurt to take some precautions against bad luck. And while it's impossible for Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day to occur on the same date (duh!) and therefore shatter the time-space continuum, it still makes sense to guard against any bad luck that today might project onto tomorrow. So even if you're not usually superstitious, make sure you cross your fingers and tap some oak that there's no glass in that expensive, romantic box of chocolate covered cherries.
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2.13.04 @ 1:42a
"The juxtaposition of the two holidays brings some strange imagery to mind, not the least of which is that of a lunatic in a hockey mask slaughtering winged babies."
2.13.04 @ 7:00a
Whether it's conscious or not, people usually look for a certain type of person in partner. I think that it could happen wherever it is you happen to live. For instance, I met my wife the first week of med school. It seemed like destiny. What if I went to another school in another state and never met her? It just as easily could've happened that way. Does that mean I would never have found someone I truly loved? No, I probably would've found someone with similar characteristics. Would she have been as wonderful? Probably not. But I would've found someone.
By the way, did you mean, "Entrepreneur"?
2.13.04 @ 11:05a
I don’t think that Mercury being in retrograde and Virgo's moon having had a vasectomy means I’m going to get hot and heavy with a Gemini this month.
Heh heh. I think Mike should be put in charge of Intrepid: Horoscopes.
2.13.04 @ 11:54a
Thank god I don't believe in horoscopes, because I'm a Gemini.
2.13.04 @ 11:54a
I don’t truck with no witches.
Hear, hear, my brotha! Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!
2.13.04 @ 11:59a
Good to hear from you, Matt. You haven't had a vasectomy lately, have you?
2.13.04 @ 3:11p
Nothing kills discussion like a vasectomy joke, I see.
2.13.04 @ 3:19p
2.13.04 @ 3:42p
So, has anyone been stricken with bad luck this weekend? Like say, having some romantic obligation tomorrow? *whipcrack!*
2.13.04 @ 3:49p
It's been a rather lucky week as a whole, actually. And tomorrow I plan on spending the day with someone I love- ME! A full-fledged day at the spa complete with massage and mani/pedi. Now, Mike, I know you're dying to join me, but it's just too late. They're booked full.
2.13.04 @ 3:52p
Well, my week hasn't been lucky, as usual. But I sure could use a pedicure. Damn!
2.13.04 @ 3:58p
Are you sure you didn't mean "sporting wood and knocking the occasional rally cap"?
2.13.04 @ 3:59p
I wish I had, Russ! That's some good stuff! DAMMIT!
2.13.04 @ 5:19p
"If you happen to run into the same hottie at the video store over and over again, it’s not because your love is written in the stars, it’s because you’re both morons who have yet to discover Netflix."
2.13.04 @ 5:31p
Taking a page from Russ' book: how about tapping your fingers and crossing some oak?
2.13.04 @ 8:02p
Aww shoot! This gemini was so looking forward to getting hot and heavy with you, Mike.
2.13.04 @ 9:16p
Being a witch and a gemini, I'm sort of relieved. Very funny.
2.14.04 @ 1:49p
Sandra, don't let my cynicism stop you!
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