Yesterday, on the first day of 2009, I took all precautions (with the help of some feathered friends) to ensure that 2009 will be a lucky year.
My grandmother once told my sister and I that it was good luck to say “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first day of each month. It has to be the very first thing you say when you wake up in the morning or else it doesn’t count. There were many months I forgot to say it and I don’t particularly remember if any of them were any more unlucky than the rest, but yesterday morning I recalled the old saying and thought, well, it couldn't hurt: “Rabbit, Rabbit.”
Later that day, Tommie and I ventured on a walk to my parent’s house with Maya. They live about 1.5 miles away and Dad said he’d walk and meet us halfway. As we neared their neighborhood a flock of homing pigeons circled ahead. We watched them do their dance—swooping and swerving through the sky before perching gracefully on some telephone wires several feet in front of us. My Dad and Tommie were next to me as we walked underneath them and I looked up for a moment before deciding that was probably unwise. I had a funny feeling…“I’m going to get crapped on—” and just as the sentence finished coming out of my mouth, a little brown and white turd plopped down from the heavens. “Oh my god, I did.” I wasn’t so surprised to see it there on my shoulder—only surprised that it seemed as if by my saying it, I had put it there myself. My Dad couldn't believe it. “I consider that very good luck!” he said. It’s not the first time (and probably won’t be the last) I’ve been christened with crap. At an early age my parents were sure to fill me in on the superstitious wisdom that being pooped on by birds was good luck. I think they made it sound extra special so that I wouldn’t start crying. I don’t consider myself a lucky person (although I do have a knack for winning pointless prizes in raffles) but I can’t say that I’ve had an unlucky life either. Maybe there is something to the old superstition after all. And if that’s the case, there’s nothing like starting the new year off with a mound of watery poo smack on the shoulder.
After lunch (and rinsing off my shoulder, of course) my Mom presented us each with a potato. We have been doing this tradition for as long as I can remember…on January 1st we plant a potato in the ground for good luck. Honestly, I don’t know where this ritual came from or if anyone else does it.
It sounds like something a farmer might do to will a good year of crops…a sacrifice to the gods of agriculture. We’re not farmers, but some years the potato has actually grown into a sturdy little plant. When we lived in the Northeast, there were times the ground was too frozen to plant in it so we’d open one of the second floor windows and chuck the thing into the snow. Weeks later my grandfather (who lived in the house behind ours and took pride in his nice yard) would find a potato or two strewn about and mutter, “What the Hell?” This year, we each planted a different colored spud into the clover patch at the top of the canyon. For fun (and because I’m a little sinister) I told Tommie to toss his yellow potato at Mom’s behind as she bent over the dirt muttering something about her black potatoes symbolizing a good year with Michelle and Barack.
I don’t yet know if ’09 will be a good year, but my shoulder’s been blessed and Obama’s been planted…at least we’ve done everything we can to make sure it will be a lucky one.