Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

As I write this, it is Friday the 13th. Unluckiest day of the week (really? why not Monday?) and unluckiest number.  Just rife with dreadful possibilities.

Now, I try to be rational in my life. I’ve never been impressed with that particular superstition or much of any others, except the ones that I create, like if I’m waiting for something good in the mail, I’m disappointed. By the time I stop caring about it, here it comes. It seems to be a universal constant, like the inability of people to walk purposefully and in a straight line in grocery stores and airports. But other than that and the fear that if I lick a toad, I might die, I’m not superstitious.

Let’s go back to the twenties. Not the Roaring 20s. Back to my twenties. I was on a softball team. Don’t ask why, except that the institution I attended at the time was largely female, and they wanted to play softball, and they wanted men on the team.

During my life, I have not had good luck with baseball-type sports. I could strike out in T-ball, if T-ball was around when I was a kid, and blessedly, it wasn’t, or I would’ve been subject to even more ridicule than I remember.

But there I was in practice with my teammates and their high expectations of my XY prowess, standing at the plate, bat in hand, and I was thinking furiously, “Don’t take a mighty swing. Just keep your eye on the ball and bring the bat to meet it. Grounding out will be less humiliating than striking out.” The ball lobbed over, I did as I was thinking, there was a decent pop, and the ball sailed over the infield for a double.

I was ecstatic and bitter at the same time. That’s all? Don’t even have to swing the bat hard? Just watch the ball all the way to the bat and simply meet it? I could’ve been doing that all this time? Well. I had a grand day that day. Never failed to get on base, and I even got a triple. Too bad it was only practice.

So what does this have to do with 13, or Friday the 13th? Patience, kids.

I was driving a male teammate to practice. Up ahead, a car was pulled over with a flat, and two young ladies fluttered about helplessly. I said, “We’re helping,” and pulled the car over behind them. After a moment of inquiry, I determined that they were not of complete capacity to change a tire.

I will say right now that from the time my daughter could start driving, she could change a tire. I wanted to make sure that she didn’t have to depend on anyone stopping to help her. Or not.

Back to the young ladies. I had them open the trunk, and I said to my teammate, “Let’s get to it,” and we did.

“We” has a loose meaning here. The car occupants were comely lasses, and my teammate took on the role of comforter, diverting their attention from the awful circumstance, and conveying how cool we were to help them out, while I jacked up the car, took off the old tire, put on the new, let it back down, and stowed the flat.

So I was done – no, I mean, we were done, and my teammate didn’t want to leave the enchanting conversation, but the ladies were ready to go, and my teammate and I had a softball practice to attend. The ladies said thank you, and one of them said, “Hey, it’s Friday the 13th. I guess 13 really is unlucky.”

I turned my back on them and pointed. My jersey number was 13.

— Grandpa

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