Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I've always been a proponent of the 11:11 superstition--the idea that it's a semi-hallowed moment of some kind of convergence--and I've treated the eleventh of November as a numerological holiday (it was easy to remember because it's also a federal holiday, Armistice Day, Veteran's Day. World War I ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month).

I guess I make wishes when I see 11:11. Megan and I have done this throughout. It's been a good way to flirt. But, as with any solid superstition, we're not allowed to share our wishes. Maybe while I've been hoping for [redacted], she's been asking for a really tasty lunch. Who can say? Hopefully our wishes have sometimes been in tune.

Either way, we also blow on eyelashes and I knock wood when people mention Macbeth. (Always up, to chase the spirits into the air instead of deeper into the wood. [It can't go without mentioning that, in Finnish, 'knock on wood' is 'koputtaa puuta']).

For me, there are a few other mini-myths I hold onto. I won't toast with water, breathe while driving past a graveyard, shave on Sundays, pick up a nickel, or watch Jay Leno.

I will say "Rabbit, Rabbit" at the beginning of the month. But never, ever "Bunny, Bunny" (even though that's apparently Polish in origin--Zajaczek, Zajaczek).

Every once in awhile I even throw some salt. Some people think that this one originated because Judas scattered a sprinkle of seasoning on the last-supper table. That didn't turn out well for him. I just like the feeling of the grains and the excuse to be able to throw food on the floor.

I'm a little obsessive about all of these, a little compulsive, a little disordered. Superstitions, though, are just a giddy little grab at some kind of control. Amidst the Immense Undecidability, we allow ourselves these tricks in order to have a method, arbitrary though that method may be. It's a little bit of madness and a little bit of fun.

Regardless, 11/11 has always been a good day for me. Koputtaa puuta.

(posted at 11:11)


Joe said...

Bro. I'm unaware of half of these superstitions. Are they traditional/historical or idiosyncratic/Wanczykal?

Dave said...


Throwing salt, rabbit rabbit, toasting with water: those are 90%, 70%, 30% known, I surmise.

Shaving on Sundays...Wanczykal (and, frankly, unverifiable. . .I don't really shave on any day).

The breathing past the graveyard thing I actually got as a kid and it seems authentic in that way that kids pick up superstitions from older kids trying to tease them. Carl Smith. Sposedtabe seven years of bad luck.

We'll discuss at lunch tomorrow.

Zach said...


You might remember this as germane to your topic, taxonomically, anyway.

Zach said...

Also, as a child, an uncle of a friend of mine called this time, "one one oney one."