Having a special day today. Not my birthday but my lucky day. Let me explain; I put on my shirt inside out this morning. No question about it, the labels were outside and the buttons inside. That’s supposed to bring good luck if you don’t notice it, and someone else has to point it out to you at work. Or in class. But good luck is canceled out if you catch your mistake in time and have a chance to correct it. If you try to press your luck by pretending not to notice, then your luck will not only be canceled but replaced by misfortune. Truly bad, bad luck.
That was what I was meditating on while taking off my shirt and turning the inside in and the outside out to get it right the second time. No good luck for me today, I bemoaned my loss in addition to the bother of messing with that stupid shirt.
But then something strange happened. I looked in the mirror, and the shirt still didn’t look right to me. Something just wasn’t right. Maybe a crazy new style, I thought and proceeded to button it up. It was a plain old polo shirt with only three buttons, so it should have been an easy task. But it wasn’t. Somehow the buttons just did not obey my fingertips and the buttonholes closed up like… like… Well take your pick, choose any bodily orifice for the simile.
Then it came to me; the buttons were inside, and that was how they played hide and seek with me. One look in the mirror confirmed what my fingertips were telling me.
Facts are facts, no one can argue with them. Before I realized what I was doing I pulled off the shirt again. Then it occurred to me, what if making the same mistake twice can bring good luck? Even if you catch your mistake twice? Maybe the mistake I made was to correct it the second time. Maybe making the same mistake twice in a row entitles you to good luck even if you are aware of your mistake and persist in it. Maybe the second time I should’ve left the shirt the way it was and still claim my good luck.
As it was I’d screwed up my good luck. Or had I? Something must’ve happened between the two mistakes, a good genie must’ve turned my shirt inside out again even while I was correcting that state of affairs. It clearly could not have been I who turned the shirt inside out while laboring on turning it inside in and outside out. It must’ve been a superior, invisible, undetectable agency that was involved. A friendly ghost. A good spirit. A genie. A being that was with me then and must still be with me, at least for the day. Conventional wisdom tells us that the way we start the day determines the course of the whole day.
With a genie – let me be modest and not claim too lofty association with superior beings — in other words, with a genie with me I obviously have help, supernatural help at my disposal. Thus it must be my lucky day. So far nothing bad has happened to me, unless I take into consideration the missing shampoo in the gym; however, I did not lose it today, now I know I left it at the beach house on the seashore where I was lucky enough to be a guest for almost a week. So the shampoo doesn’t count. And in fact something lucky did happen to me on the way home. I turned into a road that seemed to be closed, there was even Do Not Enter sign in the vicinity of the intersection, and to my luck I encountered no further obstacles all the way home.
Now I wonder if it was a mistake to come home without stopping someplace to buy a lottery ticket. How could I be so stupid and not let my genie guide me to the winning ticket of the week or month, whatever. But that’s the problem; I have never purchased a lottery ticket and have no idea where and how to go about it. And suppose I find the right store, what am I going to ask for? I can just see the contemptuous expression on the face of storekeeper looking at this dopey customer. First he doesn’t understand what I want and then I don’t understand his broken English. A stalemate. Just another mistake.
Better stay home now and not press my luck further. The surest way to spoil it is by advertising it to the world. Better keep it to myself. The day is not out yet, who knows what lucky things can happen to me right at home, sitting in my recliner. Luck is not tied to any particular effort. If it’s truly good luck, it should happen to me right here. All I have to do now is wait and see. And perhaps I should wish for something. But be careful about that wish. Okay genie, I’m working on it! Will be ready for you in ten minutes. My wish is shaping up nicely!
But wait a minute. Isn’t bad luck to expect good luck? Am I getting ahead of myself? Aren’t you supposed to expect bad luck in order to get lucky? Or is it the other way around? My lucky day, indeed! What the hell do I know about luck? Good luck? Maybe I should turn the shirt inside out before the genie decides to ask for my wish. It’ll be a secret between us.
Paul Sohar ended his higher education with a BA in philosophy and took a day job in a research lab while writing in every genre, publishing seven volumes of translations. Now a volume of his own poetry (Homing Poems) is available from Iniquity Press. Latest is The Wayward Orchard, from Wordrunner Press. His magazine credits include Agni, Gargoyle, Kenyon Review, Rattle, Seneca Review, etc. True Tales of a Fictitious Spy is his creative nonfiction book (Synergebooks, 2006). He contributed the lyrics to a musical (“G-d is Something Gorgeous”) that was produced in Scranton, PA in 2007.