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Because 2012 began on a Sunday, there was a Friday the 13th in January. Because it is a Leap Year, there is also one (today) in April and will be one in July. Not a good year to suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia—an irrational fear of Friday the 13th. But if you know someone who does, don’t tell them that there are exactly 13 weeks between each of those ominous Fridays.  

Last January, some friends came over for supper and a movie. Because it happened to be Friday the 13th, I got a bit mischievous. I dragged the ladder from the garage and set it up so that they would have to walk beneath it to get in the front door. I hung an open umbrella from the living room ceiling fan (it’s bad luck to open one in a house, especially if it’s overhead), and I let my black cat roam free (for five minutes). I also taped black tape in a jagged pattern across the entry mirror so that it looked cracked.

On the table, at each corner there were either a pair of shoes (shoes on a table are unlucky) (and I removed them before the food was brought over), a pile of coins, tails up (unlucky to pick up a coin that way), a spilled candle, some spilled salt and knives between place settings were crossed.

It proved to be a conversation starter and set the mood for a fun evening. Some other random facts that could be mentioned:

  • More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor.
  • Many airports skip the 13th gate.
  • Airplanes have no 13th aisle.
  • Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.
  • On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.
  • Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue
  • In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.
  • Consider the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13.
  • If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck. Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names.

Consider having some friends over tonight—keep it simple, I contrived my props in an afternoon. And, if possible, bring the total number of people to 13.

BTW, I took pictures of each thing I’d done and saved them to a file that is now gone. Vanished. Just saying. . .