Saturday, November 2, 2013

Retirees’ Superstitions

Halloween weekend is a good time to take a look at retirees’ superstitions. At first blush, they seem the same as everyone else’s odd beliefs, but there are differences. Moreover, the counter measures a retiree must take to neutralize bad karma aren’t always what you’d expect.

True, walking under a ladder brings anyone negative juju. But for us, that means our Social Security check will be auto-deposited into someone else’s account. We can prevent this if we turn in a clockwise circle six times, but don’t do this while you’re under the ladder. In fact, be sure there’s a post to grab onto or seat nearby, since you’ll be dizzy after all that spinning.

Here’s another well-known superstition: break a mirror and you’ll have seven years of bad luck. For us, it starts with the doctor who has been our GP for 30 years deciding to retire. We can disrupt the spell by immediately shouting his (or her) name out loud seven times. Muttering or murmuring it doesn’t work, by the way.

You might think that if you step on a crack in the sidewalk, you’ll “break someone’s back,” but you would be mistaken. If you’re a retiree, your bunion will have a painful flare-up, unless you go home and clip your toenails right away. The fact that you can’t reach your toes won’t exempt you from doing this. Best to have a toenail-clipping partner lined up. You might try the same person who plucks the goat hairs from your chin.

Spilling salt brings specific distress to retirees, unless they throw some of it over their right shoulder. If not, the next time the bridge club meets at their place, their dog will fart under the card table. The kind of rips my brother used to call “silent, but deadly.” Fat chance you can convince the ladies it was really Bowser’s doing.

Everyone is familiar with the notion that a black cat crossing one’s path brings bad luck. Those of a certain age, on the other hand, know that if a black car parks in front of our house, we’ll be going to a funeral soon. What most of us don’t know is that if we immediately go out and adopt a black cat, the funeral procession will pass us by. At least for awhile.

When you’re ready to go for a walk, be sure to put your sport shoe on the right foot first. Otherwise, your health insurance will be canceled. Don’t worry: you can counter the left-foot screw-up by following the good luck superstition of wearing your underwear inside out for a week. (You can change the underwear; just be sure to put the new pair on inside out, too.) I do this accidentally now and then, which could explain why I usually have no trouble finding a parking spot.

When your palm itches, do you think you’re going to come into some money? Not exactly. We seniors are about to win a “free” two-day cruise to Bermuda. Take it, and your house will be burglarized while you’re away. Nose itchy? Don’t worry about getting into a physical fight, but your condo board is going to revoke your community gardening privileges. Do the bottom of your feet itch? Don’t expect to make a trip. This one is not a superstition. Go out and buy some Gold Bond powder.

Be very careful about opening up an umbrella indoors. The only known retiree’s antidote for that mistake is rotating a coffee cup clockwise three times, and then immediately counter-clockwise one time. The cup has to be filled with freshly brewed coffee; those Keurig pods won’t work. You must follow this action by knocking on wood twice. It has to be solid wood, not those laminated, engineered products, or the ersatz composite stuff. I almost forgot: you need to do all of this in 30 seconds.

I’ll continue to research superstitions, debunking the myths, finding those that apply specifically to retirees, and uncovering steps we can take to undo the voodoo. In the meantime, you all be careful out there. It’s a scary world.

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