My wife Minnie is a bit of a funny bird sometimes. There’s no doubt she’s probably the smartest person I know – I mean, she really does know somethin’ about everything, whether it’s how to make the perfect spaghetti and meatballs with the whole recipe in her head, or how to make homemade wallpaper paste, or exactly how much the oil bill was last February so she knows what to expect this year. There’s no doubt, she got a mind like a steel trap for all kinds of facts and figures and stuff like that.
But what makes her a funny bird is, she got all kinds of superstitions that make her seem like she escaped from the loonie bin. Now, I’m not talkin’ about the usual stuff, like it’s bad luck to break a mirror, or it’s good luck to throw salt over your shoulder. She believes in all them, too, but I think I told yis before she got some doozies.
She got quite a few superstitions about tables. It’s bad manners to put your hat on the table, or money, which are two that a lot of people go by. But she also always says it’s bad luck to put new shoes on a table. Now, that’s not to say she’d rather ya put old, dirty shoes on the table (because I’m pretty sure that would get ya smacked in the back of the head). But I remember one time she bought each of the kids gym sneakers for goin’ back to school. When she got home I went out to help her carry all the bags in – groceries and everything else – and I just plunked them all down on the kitchen table.
About halfway through emptyin’ the bags, she realizes there’s two pairs of sneakers on the table and lets out this god-awful wail like she just got shot by a BB gun. She tried to whack the bag off the table without touchin’ it, sorta slappin’ it with just the tip of her fingers until it thunked on the floor and knocked over the dog’s water dish.
Merciful cripes! she said. Shoes on the table! I hope I got them off in time!
Now, what I wanted to say was – well, since the skies never opened up and shot lightning at us, I guess it must have been just in the nick of time, eh? But she’s my wife, and I love her, so I just kept quiet and nodded.
Of course, it didn’t help things that the next day Little Bill wears his new sneakers to gym class and basically turns his ankle inside out playin’ floor hockey. It was just a bad sprain, but I could tell Minnie blamed herself for not gettin’ them shoes off the table sooner. She never said anything until the next day when Rosie came home and told us she forgot her new sneakers on the school bus (which is not like her at all). I expected Minnie to say – that’s OK, we’ll just call the bus driver and see if he found them after the other kids got off. But instead she said – ya know what, this is a sign. Them shoes are bad luck and we’ll just leave them wherever they are.
Sure, I says, what’s another thirty bucks on sneakers?
Minnie also got an awful superstition about knifes. If ya pass somebody a knife, that’s bad luck. The only way to save yourself is to tap the point against somethin’ made of wood and somehow that cancels out the bad luck. I swear to cripes, she really believes this, even though it sounds crazy now that I told yis about it.
Well, as ya can imagine, this creates some real interesting situations if ya risk your life and accidentally pass her a knife without thinkin’. Sometimes it’s harmless, like if it’s suppertime and I accidentally hand her a fork and knife, she don’t make too big a deal about it. But if ya keep an eye on her, you’ll notice her slip her knife under the table and tap it against the leg of her chair.
But the sharper the knife, the worse luck she thinks she’s gonna get, which means the crazier she gets about cancellin’ it out. One time we were doin’ the dishes and without thinkin’ I passed her one of them big sharp knifes to dry. She held it for a second, realized what it was, then scrambled to tap it against the cupboard door. Only she was right frantic and she drove the damn thing right into the wood. It was like watchin’ Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I swear to cripes.
Anyways, I say all this so yis understand what I’m dealin’ with. Last week, I went down the basement lookin’ for a wrench and down by the furnace I stumbled across one of them big plastic totes that wasn’t there before. I opened it up and it was about half full of cans of no-name Spam meat, and the rest was bottles of water, three or four buns of bread and a bottle of mustard.
What’s all that about? I says to Minnie when I went back upstairs. She kinda smirked and said it was just somethin’ she put together for the food bank. I could tell right away she was lyin’ her face off.
It was hours later watchin’ TV I thought of it.
All that sandwich stuff and water wouldn’t be because ya were worried about all them Mayan calendar predictions about the end of the world that were all over the news, is it?
Tuh! she said, barely lookin’ up from her crossword puzzle. What kinda nutbar would believe somethin’ like that? she said.
I quit while I was ahead and didn’t ask her anything else about it. I guess I’ll be eatin’ Spam sandwiches until June, which sounds like pretty good luck to me.