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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

My hands have been itching like crazy the past few days. I mentioned it to Ralph at some point and he said They must be dry.

I don’t know how he was raised, but clearly there was something deficient in his upbringing because everyone knows that if your hands itch it means you are about to come into money.

I informed him of his misjudgment and he just sort of blinked at me for a minute and then went back to playing his evil alien spider game.

Since I was left to my own devices I googled it a bit. And I was right. Cultures across the world associate itching hands – palms specifically – with money. It’s better than the alternative, which if you google long enough will inevitably lead to imminent death. Never google a health condition. Just saying.

I remember my grandmother referring many times to the itching-hands-equals-money phenomenon. But judging by how many lottery tickets ended up in the garbage, I can only assume she didn’t have the right kind of itch.

I’ll await my fortune and let you know how that turns out.

In the meantime I couldn’t help but think about some of the other superstitions that were a staple throughout my life. The other that literally came flying out of my mouth at a hundred miles an hour was that if you sneeze three times in a row you’ll have good luck.

Sadly, I only sneezed twice. My Uncle Arthur, however, was the luckiest man on the planet.

If you sneezed once though, specifically in the middle of talking, then whatever you said must have been true.

And if you just happened to be standing around listening to someone sneeze or perhaps you were doing a puzzle on a Saturday night and your ears started ringing, it meant someone was talking about you.

You also knew someone was talking about you – or at a minimum thinking about you – if you accidentally said their name instead of the person you meant to name.

So many words of wisdom from the elders in my life.

Superstitions are a dime a dozen but only a handful played a role in my life. These were the ones instilled in me by my grandmother, repeated by every aunt, uncle and cousin. I never thought twice about a black cat, except to invite it to sit on my lap, I barely sweep up salt when it spills let alone toss it over my shoulder. And I’ve broken a few mirrors and lived to tell the tale.

But itching, sneezing and ringing… those came up over and over.

Bad things always came in threes. I don’t recall anyone being particularly phased by a single bad thing. But two bad things in close proximity meant there was certainly a third on the way. We’d start wringing our hands and keeping an eye out for whatever it might be.

The good news is that if you found a penny you’d have good luck. My grandmother was a penny magnet. She may not have won the lottery but someone really should have tallied how much spare change she found on the sidewalk or in the parking lot or in the aisles of the grocery store.

I can remember many days walking with her and we’d find a penny here and nickel there. You’d think it was a windfall the way we got all giddy about it. A dime or a quarter was good for a week of dinnertime conversation. I suppose any day that you’re enjoying with your grandmother is good luck.

We also knocked on wood a lot to ward off whatever thing we or someone else had just said that we didn’t dare invite the universe to fulfill.

I am not a superstitious person. I don’t think any of my family truly was either, but to this day I can’t stop myself from knocking on something – a wooden spoon will do in a pinch – if I find myself verbally tempting the fates.

Going back some, I can remember playing hopscotch on my grandmother’s driveway because it conveniently had a single line of paving stones in a one-big-two-small pattern. The important thing while playing was not to step on the cracks. Of course when you walked on the sidewalk you had to avoid stepping on cracks too, because you most certainly did not want to break your mother’s back.

My brother and I made it a game to see how long we could keep it up. But that was when we had sidewalks. Then we moved to the suburbs and all we had was lawn so we had to make up other games.

We turned our swing set into Monkey Island surrounded by boiling lava and instead of swinging or sliding we hung and crawled and climbed and slunk our way over and across it from one end to the other without touching the ground or surely we’d be fried. We took this very seriously.

Each trip posed the dilemma of whether to attempt to navigate the swings one at a time, which could be tricky since they were swings, designed to swing and not to hold you steady while you walked across them. Or to climb up the post to the bar above and shimmy your way across, which held other hazards like the fact that it was a bar and you were a whole human trying to balance on it.

There is a park nearby me now that has a little hopscotch game painted on the walking path. It is a three-ish mile walking path that I sometimes walk and sometimes jog and sometimes attempt to run. My record is three miles in 30 minutes, which if you know anything about me and the ten-minute mile is something bordering on a miracle.

But when I reach that hopscotch drawing I absolutely 100% of the time have to stop and hop through it – making very sure not to step on the lines.

Some things just stick with you.

It’s funny what your brain comes up with on any given day when your hands itch. I think I’ll go moisturize now and await my check.

Photo: Why do I have this photo? Your guess is as good as mine. Good luck, I guess!