Saturday, August 05, 2006

If You Believe in Magic...

While researching statistics for my Ann Coulter opinion piece, I was surprised to learn that less than one percent of Americans consider themselves atheist or agnostic. If that’s true, I swear I must happen to know every single one of them. I seem to attract them, and perhaps it’s because I have a certain way of making people feel very… well… sane, you might say. I know I do that for my husband at least.

See I’m a teensy bit superstitious. I know that if I want to say I’m Catholic I’m not “supposed to” be superstitious, but I am. Oh and let me explain quickly (Because I know, since I’m the atheist magnet, there’s someone here thinking, Religion is superstition, Dummy.) there is a (very fine) line between superstitious and religious.

I broke God’s law by committing adultery and now must suffer the natural consequences of my actions (guilt, divorce, stoning, etc.) = religious

I broke God’s law by committing adultery, so God sent a tornado to blow my house away = Superstitious

(Let me admit, I shamelessly stole this analogy from an old message board friend -- in the interest of giving credit where credit is due… and as a prayer that God won’t burn my house down when I go to sleep tonight.)
One of the ways my superstitious nature manifests itself is I get very nervous when someone makes fun of people. I don’t mean making fun of people who chose an unfortunate wardrobe ensemble (anything someone freely chose is fair game – so if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit with me and all that), but I mean making fun of someone who can’t walk or talk properly or who is otherwise “abnormal.” This really really bugs me. Sometimes my husband (who really is usually a swell guy) will do this, and I’ll freak out and shout, “Stop it! You're going to make our kids blind! I mean it!”

And he’ll furrow his brow and ask, “By making fun of someone I can turn someone else blind? What am I, a wizard????”

And then I’ll say something very rational like, “Well… I don’t know. I obviously have no way of knowing if you’re a wizard or not. But I just want our kids to be healthy.”

And then he’ll go (brow not yet un-furrowed), “Um… me too… sorry,” and leave the room.

If I’m having a good day, I’ll go on about my business, but if not I very well might chase him through the house crying and shrieking, “You do not fuck around with God! Do you hear me, god damn it?!”

And I hate to say it, but this is just one of many many ways I’m fun to hang out with on a daily basis. Because I’m superstitious about the little things too. I remember once Yogi Berra was telling a story about how superstitious athletes often are, saying that he’s known players who wouldn’t wash their socks (or something equally ridiculous) during a winning streak. And let me just tell you right here, the people who have to smell me every day are very very lucky that I’m not an athlete on a winning streak…
My most recent example is that I’ve been working out and dieting since February and the scale has not been budging. At all (damned old age). Suddenly in the last week or so, I’ve been consistently down about five to six pounds. (In a week!) The likely explanation is that finally all of the work I’ve been doing is starting to catch up with me, but unfortunately, another minor event coincided with the dramatic loss. I bought myself a six pack of my favorite beer (wheat beer, which I never buy) and I had one several of the days during which the weight loss occurred.

And so the other night when I came in from my workout my husband said, “Are you ready to eat dinner?”

And (I'm not kidding) I answered, “Not yet, I need to have a pint of beer first, so I can keep losing weight.”

My husband just shook his head, but damned if it didn’t work… my weight was down a little further the next morning. I’m having another now, and I will have one every single day until the weight loss stops. If I lose all of the twenty pounds I need to drop, I might write a book about it. Or I’ll call up the Widmer Brewery and ask if they want me to be the “Jared” of Hefeweizen. Placebo, you say? Who cares, if it works, it works!

Another thing I do that seems odd to the casual observer is like tonight I was making taco meat and realized I only had about a pinch of chili powder in my spice drawer. So I said, “Please Mother of God let there be more in the pantry.” And lo and behold, it was so and I announced, “Thank you Queen of Heaven.” (Because I really did not want to run to the store in the middle of cooking dinner!)

My husband came in and asked, “Who are you talking to?”

And I said, “The Blessed Mother just put some chili powder in the pantry for me.”

He would have (helpfully) pointed out that the reason there was chili powder in the pantry is because I happened to have bought it sometime and put it in there, but after nearly ten years with me… well, he knows the better idea is just to simply say, “Yeah… well… okay.” And make a quick exit.

I believe in miracles big and small, so sue me. Or call me a crazed idiot if you want. Admittedly, I’m no rocket scientist, but really… I’m not the dumbest person I’ve ever met. It might make me sound both crazy and stupid, but I would rather die than face a day on this earth unable to recognize the magic in every day life.
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Mom101 said...

This is so wonderful! You are glad you don't live with Nate, the Redskins fanatic, who has so many superstitions it would make your head spin.

I love the idea of the beer diet. Let me know if it keeps working. I just might join you.

Suburban Turmoil said...

I think all of us are a little superstitious, no matter what our beliefs. I try not to be, but I feel the same way about making fun of people, particularly now that I'm pregnant.

Kate said...

That number of atheists/agnostics seemed very suspicious to me, too, when you posted it last. So I looked up some numbers at They claim that 3 to 9% of U.S.A. folks self-identify as atheists (from a study from Cambridge University Press).

I'm superstititous in certain ways--for instance, everyone knows you must ALWAYS have a rain date for a picnic, or else the rain gods will give you rain as a present and ruin your picnic.

Fresh Mommy said...

Knocking on wood and throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder are very important if you don't want anything bad to happen to you. Also, if you or someone else says something negative that might possibly happen, it's good to say "God forbid." By the same token, "God willing" helps when you say something positive that you hope will happen.

Also, if you cross your fingers when you tell a white lie it doesn't count. But a broken mirror does NOT equal 7 years of bad luck and opening an umbrella inside isn't bad either. That's just crazy talk.

MommyWithAttitude said...

Omega Mommy, I saw that they had a few different statistics there; here is the page I used, maybe I misinterpreted. Still 3-9 is a pretty low number too to be blaming all of the sin and deveatation that the Godless are supposedly inflicting on America. ;)

Mary Tsao said...

PLEASE keep us posted on the results of the beer diet. I'm been desperately looking for a way to mix drinking with weight loss. God willing!

Jenny said...

Please turn off your magnet.

You're making me athiest.

Food Mum said...

The power of positive thinking definitely works, whether it's a prayer or just a concentrated thought wave (maybe that's the same thing). Unfortunately I've yet to make the leap from using it to find things, (like spice in the larder or missing keys, which surreptitiously sneak into the place you've already looked for them twice, while your back is turned) to using it for big things like world peace and having enough money to pay the bills. And touching wood is essential of course.

mad muthas said...

what?! catholics not superstitious? i think we're the most superstitious of the lot!