The No. 13 is evil — and today, we are all being bathed in the No. 13.
There are superstitions galore out there — from children not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, lest the break their mother’s back, to grown men not stepping on the foul line coming on and off a baseball field. We can also add walking under a ladder to having a black cat pass in front of us to … well, we all have something.
But the No. 13? It’s not a superstitious thing. It’s a real thing — and it’s called triskaidekaphobia.
Let’s face it, anything with 17 letters MUST be something bad that should be treated with pharmaceuticals that have 13 potentially bad side-effects.
I’m thoroughly convinced that the reason Alex Rodriquez lied about taking performance enhancing drugs is because he donned the No. 13 when he became a Yankee.
Don’t laugh, there is proof that the No. 13 is just not a good spot in the numerical order of things. Consider:
— Ancient Norse lore holds that evil and turmoil were first introduced in the world by the appearance of the treacherous and mischievous god Loki at a dinner party in Valhalla. He was the 13th guest, upsetting the balance of the 12 gods already in attendance.
— An early myth surrounding the origin of the fear involved one of the world’s oldest legal documents, the Code of Hammurabi, which reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules.
— Mathematicians and scientists point to pre-eminence of the No. 12, often considered a “perfect” number, in the ancient world. The ancient Sumerians developed numeral system based on the use of 12 that is still used for measuring time today; most calendars have 12 months; a single day is comprised of two 12-hour half days, etc.
— In the Bible, Judas Iscariot, the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper, is the person who betrays Jesus.
— In the tarot language, the No. 13 is read as the death card.
— At the Savoy Hotel in London, England, if you book a table for 13 people, the table would be set for 14 by default and the 14th place is occupied by a sculpture of a black cat, called Kasper.
— An assembly of witches is called a coven, which consists of 13 witches. In Roman culture, witches are believed to have gathered in groups of 12, where the 13th witch is the ‘Devil’ itself.
— Millard Fillmore was our 13th president. I shouldn’t have to say more, since historians and scholars rank him as one of our worst presidents ever. But I’ll add this … Fillmore was the first presidential candidate to leave the Whig Party, become part of the Know Nothings and form the American Party. He won only Maryland, one of the first 13 colonies.
And oh, by the way … it gets worse. From the 17-letter fear of the No. 13 we have the 23-letter fear of Friday the 13th: Friggatriskaidekaphobia, which is now commonly referred to as another 23-letter word, paraskevidekatriaphobia.
According to experts, nearly 8 percent of people in the United Sates are Paraskevidekatriaphobes. That’s right, there’s a name for those folks. Surely THIS affliction would have a medication — except there is no way to put all those letters on a medicine bottle’s label.
Anyway, those who consider Friday the 13th unlucky, evil or certainly worth a national holiday so they can just stay in bed, pull up the covers and hide, have a little history on their side, as well. Consider:
— Fear associated with Friday the 13th specifically grew during the middle ages. This was the time when the Knights Templars were tortured by King Philip IV of France — which happened to be on Friday the 13th.
— In British culture, Friday and 13 are associated with capital punishment. Friday was “the day of the hangman or the noose” as many public hangings took place on this day. Also there were exactly 13 steps to the gallows.
— Remember that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper? Well, Jesus was crucified shortly after … on a Friday.
— Another Biblical root of the superstition comes from the book of Genesis: By tradition, Friday is considered the day that Eve gave Adam the ‘apple’ and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
— It’s possible that Friday and 13 got definitively linked in the early 1900s, when a floridly written novel by an American stockbroker was titled (you guessed it) “Friday the 13th.” It follows a stockbroker who incites a profit-making Wall Street panic on the day in question. That book begins: “Friday, the 13th; I thought as much…I will see what I can do.”
— Speaking of “Friday the 13th,” wouldn’t you consider it one of the scariest movies EVER?
Now that you know the rrrrrrrest of the story about this challenging day, I’d be saying prayers for East Bladen and Harrells prom-goers tonight — especially if there is a Carrie involved. Just saying.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.