Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Friday the 13th: Feel unlucky, punk?

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Good morning, paraskevidekatriaphobics, this is your unlucky day!

I am speaking here to all of you timid, superstitious souls afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th, which just happens to be today.

Seeing as how most of you are not even reading today's column because you are so paralyzed with fear you'll be spending the entire day wearing a crash helmet, sweating profusely and hiding under the bed, I feel comfortable, as an unbiased modern journalist, pointing out that, considering all the evidence, you are a moron.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is a word derived from the common Greek words "paraskevi" (meaning "brain") and "dekatriaphobia" (meaning "the size of an M&M").

But my goal today is not to make you feel bad about yourselves simply because you are what pocket-protector-wearing members of the scientific community refer to as "a major weenie." No, my goal is to remind you that under the Gregorian calendar, we get at least one, and at most three, Friday the 13ths a year, and any month's 13th day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday.

So, looking at things from a purely scientific perspective, we can see today is our first Friday the 13th of 2013 and the next one falls on Dec. 13, which is 13 weeks from today, which, now that we think about it, is pretty alarming.

No, we are kidding. There is nothing to fear about Friday the 13th, especially the Friday the 13 slasher movies, which convey the following important message to teenagers -- if you are stupid enough to appear in a movie with a guy in a hockey mask, you will be hacked to death with an axe before the audience has finished its first box of hot-buttered popcorn.

If we were willing to do any research, we would probably be able to tell you why so many people are terrified of this date.

According to several articles we partially understood, it has something to do with the fact everyone loves the number 12. For instance, you have 12 doughnuts in a box, 12 eggs in a carton, 12 months in a year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 signs of the zodiac, , and 12 players on a Canadian Football League Team (unless, of course, you grew up in Saskatchewan).

In contrast, the number 13 has always been the odd man out. Legend has it if 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. This is especially true if they sit down for dinner during barbecue season and someone -- I am definitely not blaming my wife for this -- leaves the (bad word) potato salad sitting in the blistering sun the entire (bad word) day.

The dinner legend likely stems from the ancient Norse myth wherein 12 gods got together for a nice dinner party and, naturally, in walked an uninvited 13th guest, Loki, the god of mischief, who somehow talked Hoder, the blind god of darkness, into killing Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a spear of (why not?) mistletoe.

I think we can all agree that, if you are planning a dinner party over the holidays, not only should you keep a close eye on the number of guests you invite, but you should also ixnay the istletoemay, if you catch our Latin drift.

Like I believe I said earlier, there is nothing inherently wrong with the number 13. Consider these two famous examples that prove my point:

Example No. 1 -- I personally wore No. 13 during my high school basketball career and nothing happened to me. Coincidence, or just the fact that, for what I was told were insurance reasons, the coach never let me off the bench? Who is to say?

Example No. 2 -- Sticking with basketball, one of the greatest players and lotharios all time, the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, also wore No. 13 and he scored thousands of times, including a few times when he was on the court.

Despite this evidence, some of you will persist in being petrified by an innocent day. That being the case, here is the first of six helpful safety tips I culled from an article called "How to be Lucky on Friday the 13th" on the wikiHow website:

"Step No. 1 -- Wear red underpants. Apparently this colour will bring you more luck than other colours. Whatever you do, don't choose green underpants or luck might abandon you."

What I'm saying, paraskevidekatriaphobics, is the time has finally come to embrace Friday the 13th. Feel free to put on your red underpants and come over to my house for dinner so we can embrace it together.

Just to be safe, we'll steer clear of the potato salad.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2013 A2

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