I’m an educated, reasonable person. I’d even call myself logical on a good day. But I have a few pet superstitions that I regularly milk for all their powers of entertainment and comfort.
- Astrology. This is probably my biggest indulgence, but it’s pure vanity. I don’t know much about anyone else’s star sign except my own, Gemini. And Capricorn, because I’ve dated enough Capricorn men to know they are not the men for me. And Sagittarius, because I am supposed to be compatible with them and that seems to hold true. (And yes, that’s probably because I am weirdly and irrationally warmly predisposed toward anyone once I find out that he or she is a Sagittarius. Because I am compatible with Sagittarius. Do you see the circle here?)
- Knocking on wood. I am a compulsive wood-knocker. If there is any talk of worst-case scenarios going on around me, I am driven to find a suitable surface to rap. Real wood is often in short supply these days, but particle board, brick, plastic, or a silly friend’s head also work for me.
- Feng shui. I know just enough about feng shui, or Chinese interior decorating, to be dangerous. Like enough to rearrange my furniture so that I can see the front door while I’m sitting on the sofa and to want to keep goldfish so they will bring my prosperity. I don’t even have goldfish right now, but if I did, that would be why.
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This is just natural or herbal medicine theory in China, or what we would call a kind of alternative medicine in the West. And I am all about mint tea and echinacea, so I am not about to poo poo TCM here. Only I don’t know much about it except that women shouldn’t drink cold beverages. Oddly enough, I’ve always disliked cold drinks: I even microwave my orange juice to room temperature. Thus, I felt very comfortable being served tepid-to-hot water all across Greater China. I’ve gotten into arguments with male friends about it, but lady friends, listen: next time your time of the month is approaching, stop drinking cold things (and caffeine) and I think you will notice a real difference.
- The healing powers of Coca-Cola. You won’t often catch me shilling for big business, but I think Coke is magical, in very small quantities. Warm, flat Coke is my go-to remedy for a hangover and tiny sips of the same are good for general nausea and vomiting. And I have yet to try it, but I read recently that people in Hong Kong used to boil Coke with ginger and lemon as a remedy for colds. I would never advocate drinking it regularly or in large quantities, but it always makes me feel better when I’m sick. You can also use it to clean your car tires.
- St. Anthony’s prayer. This is a vestige of my lax Catholic upbringing, but when I’ve really lost my keys or my phone or a shoe, I’ll recite St. Anthony’s prayer as it was taught me as a child:
Dear St. Anthony, please come down.
Something’s lost that can’t be found.
And I always find it, cross my heart.
- Birth order theory. Birth order theory has served me well in figuring out everybody else’s problems: “She’s immature because she’s the youngest daughter;” “He has issues because he was a middle child;” or “He’s selfish because he’s an only child.” But I’ve met so many “exceptions to the rule” and had so many people react with surprise when I tell them that I’m the oldest of four that I don’t think it’s a much more accurate way to gauge someone’s character than knowing their star sign. Still, for a long time I held out hope for a Sagittarius who was the youngest child in his family.
So that’s a survey of the random ideas that help me get along. What’s the weirdest thing that you rely on to get you through the day?