I attended a meeting recently
in which the name of a person who had died was mentioned. Without missing a beat the woman beside me and I both murmured, "God rest his soul." We then looked at each other, surprised.
"Irish Catholic?" she said.
"Of course," I answered.
The other members of the meeting who had heard the exchange weighed in on whether they thought it was a kind, spiritual gesture to wish someone's soul rested or if it was simply old-fashioned and creepy. My cultural partner knew what I knew -- saying such a thing only has one explanantion: superstition.
Pushed to explain I would have to admit to all sorts of irrational thought processes that add up to the dead having enormous power to mess with the living. I would have to admit that I follow some superstitions to the letter and ignore others all together. I would have to explain how I am also known for responding to spontaneous superstitions in order to feel more at ease. I would have to effectively describe how this is different from an obsessive compulsive disorder.
And I would have to admit that baseball was the sport seemingly created for me and my kind.
The team I adore is in the World Series and is favored to win. Indeed, the first game, last night produced a lop-sided win for my hometown boys. So why am I making no predictions about the Red Sox? Because speaking of an outcome to the series, even the outcome of a single game yet unplayed is not something I can do. Thinking
about it can even make me uncomfortable.
There are other conventional baseball superstitions I follow faithfully, such as not discussing a no-hitter while it is still in progress. But then there are the superstitions of the moment mentioned above, such as not being able to stay in a room while Josh Beckett pitches (because my husband will not stand for me turning the channel). Why? Hmmm...I don't know. I only know it was so. My husband follows some superstitions, but points out that there is no comparing his behavior to mine -- which I would have to agree with. When tickled by my compulsions, he will openly mock them, which left me with no choice but to insist that he could not talk to me or look at me for the second half of the fourth and final game of the 2004 World Series. A woman has gotta do what she's gotta do.
Now that it is a new World Series, I had to visit Fenway Park down the street from where I work, and perform my World-Series-only ritual of kissing the brick of the grand old place. You know...for luck. What if I hadn't done it? Well, it's not as if they could go 86 years without winning it again.
Shit. Did I say that out loud?