My son is superstitious. He looks for omens everywhere, signs that his team will win their scrimmage, signals that portend a snow day, the tell-tale markers for a Pats win. He believes you can jinx things by being too confident or test fate by making any sort of provision based on an outcome.
He’ll even ask for them outright. He’ll stand roughly where the three-point line would lie on our driveway and say “If I make this shot, the Sox will win the series.” Never mind that the season is months away and the Sox were epically bad last season. I seem to recall his taking quite a few shots to determine the outcome of last season. Clearly he missed more shots than he made. If only it were so easy to do and undo some seemingly inevitable future with nothing more than a lucky long basket or a wad of paper actually reaching the garbage can across the room.
He had a cow two weeks ago when his father commented that the Pats had the lead going into the last two minutes. “Don’t say that! You’ll jinx it!” There were only two minutes left, although I suppose a lot can happen in two minutes. I find it hard to believe that one middle-aged dude in Virginia can sway the outcome by commenting on the score more than say, the entire state of Massachusetts.
I may be to blame for some of my son’s superstitious nature. When we moved to Virginia from Boston, my son was not happy. He felt we were leaving the town he loved for a sports wasteland. He remained loyal to his beloved Pats. We assuaged his homesickness by taking the flowered wallpaper out of the upstairs bathroom and making it a Patriots mecca. He could smile at Tom Brady while he stood before the toilet every morning.
When the Pats went to the Superbowl, I said I would throw a party. He helped me with the invitation. He chose a picture of an unhappy Eli Manning and declared it a victory celebration long before game day. He never thought they’d lose. Neither did I. Helmet catch anyone? He didn’t take it well. Most 9 year olds don’t take heartbreak well. Ever since, he’s refused to call a victory until the game is good and over. If anyone else does, it might unravel all of the protections he’s put in place.
My husband, the man of science, gave the dude a lot of grief about his superstitions last week. He teased him about the lucky jersey, the no-chicken-counting rule, the finely tuned calculations that favor the Pats. Nothing lies better than well-chosen statistics.
Sunday was a rough day around here. The game was physical and nasty. The Ravens were out for blood and they got what they were looking for. The Pats went down. My son got increasingly upset as the night wore on. He even tore the lucky jersey in a Hulkian fit of anger. Not much, he’s a skinny thing. I can fix it. Any broken luck–I don’t have a patch for that.
I’ll give him some credit. He didn’t blame his father for jinxing the team. At least not out loud. Monday morning he slept in late, taking advantage of the holiday. He wasn’t too morose. He didn’t have to face the kids at school who know he’s a Pats fan–particularly the ones that have suddenly become Ravens fans. He has a particular disdain for bandwagon fans that jump on to root for the team of the moment. You have to have a connection to root for a team, he says. Someone has to live there, or have parents that lived there. Cousins, traded favorite players, or admiration aren’t enough.
“Anyhow,” he said, “it was all because of the refs. Those calls were ridiculous!”
“It’s it always?” I replied.
“Yeah. Like really!” He said it without any trace of irony, nor did he register my own. “Can you fix my jersey?”
I told him I could.
“Good. I’ll need it for the Superbowl. The 49ers have to win.” I gave him a raised eyebrow. “Hey–We lived in San Francisco for five years!”
At least he’s consistent. Better go fix that jersey.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Jens Rost © 2012 Creative Commons