First of all, my morning newspapers didn’t get delivered. What good is morning coffee without at least one newspaper in hand? Then, while having breakfast, I received two phone calls from friends I hadn’t heard from for months. Now I was two hours behind my normal routine.
I dabble in the stock market and check the exchanges every morning. Friday morning the New York Stock Exchange was down 100 points and I was following a stock I wanted to short. A short is when you “sell” the stock at a certain price, hope it goes down in value and buy it back at the lower price. Example: I sell a stock at $100 a share, wait until it goes down to $90 a share, buy it back and make $10 a share on the trade. It’s similar to a put-and-call transaction. You can only short a stock after an “uptick.” I had been waiting for an uptick on the stock for three days. This was my chance. The stock went up, I shorted it and it continued to go up another full point afterwards. I should have waited towards the end of the day to buy the stock.
As I headed for the car the remote control for my garage door reminded me it wanted a new battery. I finally made it to the car, turned the key and the sound of the engine was nowhere to be heard. I’ve been having trouble with the key for the last month. Usually, I spray WD-40 around the starter switch, on the key and into the keyhole and the car starts right up. After fiddling with it for 20 minutes, it finally started.
I bought a newspaper at the corner vending machine, lost $2 in the process, picked up a cup of coffee at a drive-thru window of Burger King, set the coffee on the seat next to the $2.50 newspaper and promptly spilled half the cup of java on it. My Friday afternoon wasn’t much better. All in all, by the end of the day, I realized it was all due to the superstition of Friday the 13th.
According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias, there could be as many as 21 million Americans under the spell of paraakavedekatriaphobia. Dr. Dossey coined the term identifying those who fear the superstition of Friday the 13th. This year, the infamous day appears on the calendar three times, each exactly 13 weeks apart.
Statistics show many people who fear the superstition stay in bed on Friday the 13th. Some don’t go to work, drive their car, travel, do business, eat out or operate machinery, fearing something terrible would happen to them.
The superstition probably is rooted deep in the dark dungeons of Christianity. There were 13 people gathered at the Last Supper before Jesus was betrayed. Christ was crucified on a Friday. Why the day of his death is called “Good Friday” seems peculiar. In Germany, the day is called Karfreitag (mourning Friday). Kar signifies mourning, and Freitag translates to Friday.
On Friday the 13th, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered the brutal slaughter and extinction of the Knights Templar. The king was broke and ordered the Catholic Church to surrender its property to France. The warrior monks were mercenaries hired by the Catholic Church to protect the convoy of Christians on their Eastern crusade to convert Islam to the path to Christ. For more than 200 years they accumulated banks, property and wealth in the name of the Catholic Church. Forbidding any transfer of property to the king, Pope Boniface VIII defied the order, leading to a diplomatic battle with the king. Boniface was arrested and with the king’s persuasion, and French archbishop Bertrand de Goth was elected pope as Clement V. The new pope was moved to Avignon, conveniently surrounded by French territories and under the threat of the king’s sword.
On the next Friday the 13th, I’ll probably stay in bed rather than risk developing a terminal case of Friggatriskaidekaphobia
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.