Okay, so I’m superstitious. Like . . . really superstitious. Before I was a writer, I was an actor. Both notably superstitious professions, along with things like Major League Ball Players. I don’t know exactly where my superstitious nature comes from, but I can tell you exactly what fed it. And it was this book: Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alan Schwartz. It was full of superstitions and how to manipulate them. My elementary school library had a copy, and I checked it out so many times that I filled up the little card in the back with my pencil-scrawled name.
So. With that background, you’ll understand that when I knocked over and broke a full-length mirror in my bedroom the other week, I was COMPLETELY. FREAKED. OUT. There I was, dressed to the nines, ready to head to a corporate shin-dig for the husband’s firm, and LATE, mind you, but I took the time to spin around clockwise and throw salt over my shoulder.
Nice measures to take anytime you’ve screwed up, but I knew that wasn’t going to cut it for a broken mirror. Now, most people think if you bury a busted mirror, you’re off the hook.
Not true. You still have to wait a whole YEAR for the bad luck to wear off (which is admittedly better than suffering the full 7 year cycle.) Also, burying a full-length mirror in my tiny back yard with small children is . . . well. You get the idea. Also, I may be crazy but I don’t really like to ADVERTISE that fact, and my neighbors live close and it’s kind of a nosy block and burying something in the yard at midnight get a little Rear Window-ish. (If you didn’t catch that movie reference . . . . it’s my *favorite* movie.)
Anyway! Fortunately for me, there’s a simple way to rid oneself of broken mirror bad luck. You simply take a piece of the mirror to a cemetery and touch it to a grave stone. The bad luck transfers to the deceased, and since luck doesn’t DO anything when you’re dead, no one’s the worse off.
So the next day I did just that. I went to a really cool little cemetery near my parents’ house that I’d always wanted to go explore. I love old cemeteries. They’re peaceful and interesting and strange. This one turned out to be a civil-war era burial ground. I found this really cool gravestone of a soldier with a tree swallowing it up.
But that’s not the stone I used to rid myself of the broken-mirror bad luck.
Meet Josiah Dean. By the standards of the day, he was quite old when he died. I liked his headstone.
So I touched the mirror to it.
Then I tried to take an artsy-ish picture of the tree branches overhead being reflected in the shard of mirror, but it was hard with a baby strapped to my back and a three-year old roaming around.
Then we explored the graveyard a bit more, packed it up, went home for lunch and threw away the mirror. Bad luck? Poof. Gone. And also we had a really cool morning. And I saw a bunch of old names of people who’ve been dead so many years that I bet no one’s thought about them in a really long time. And why put up a headstone except to be remembered? That’s another reason I like old cemeteries. I think it’s nice to honor the long-dead by looking at that last, public relic of their lives. Seeing how old they were. If they were a husband or a wife. What their epitaph is.
But also, I really, really wanted to get rid of that bad luck. Now, if I could just get the black cat from next door to quit walking across the sidewalk in front of me . . . .