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Al Batt: Good luck finding good luck

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I was talking to a Billiken on a shelf.

The Billiken is a chubby, comic, charm doll/figure given to me by a tour group to Alaska, where natives render Billikens in carvings as good luck charms. To buy a Billiken gives the purchaser luck, but to have one given to you is better luck. The Billiken is a mythical good-luck figure who represents “things as they ought to be” and the folklore is that rubbing the squat, smiling figure’s belly or soles of his feet brings good luck. The Billiken is more than just a denizen of a dusty shelf. He’s also St. Louis University’s mascot.

I asked the Billiken if he’d say “Rabbit” on the first day of the month if he could talk. The Billiken didn’t answer.

Saying “Rabbit!” or “Rabbit, rabbit!” on that day is supposed to bring good luck for a month. I do that on the inaugural day of every single month unless I forget and say something else like, “Good morning” or “Why aren’t I still in bed?”

The cringe-inducing Michael Scott on the TV show “The Office,” said, “I am not superstitious, but I’m a little ‘stitious.” Good luck is mystifying, electrifying, stupefying, edifying and many other fyings. We do things to attract good fortune. Bad luck comes voluntarily. What do you do to foster good luck?

In another life, I was involved in sales training. I told my students that perseverance brought good luck. My Aunt Edith Potter proved that. She lived to be 3 months and 18 days shy of 106 years. She believed it was good luck to live until tomorrow.

Finding a four-leaf clover brings good luck you injure your back stooping down to pluck it and end up spending time and money at 1,000 chiropractor visits.

It’s a stroke of luck when a ladybug lands on you. In some cultures, it’s believed that anything a ladybug touches is improved. I held a native lady beetle on my palm and made a wish. The direction it flew was where good luck would come from. If a ladybug lands on you, count the number of spots it has to predict how many days of good luck you’ll have.

I’m a birder. I believe seeing a cardinal is good luck and I believe getting pooped on by any bird other than Big Bird is good luck. My car was on the birds’ to-doo-doo list at a state park recently. I haven’t yet been able to consider those splatters on paint as good luck. As a mere stripling on a diversified farm (that meant there was poop from many animals available to be trodden upon), I was certain stepping into a cow pie was good luck. I’d do it whether I thought it was good luck or not, so why not consider it a lucky break?

I carried a rabbit’s foot on a chain holding my car keys when I first became a licensed driver. My becoming a legal operator of motor vehicles sent enough shudders up and down the spines of fellow township residents that it registered on the Richter scale and local news outlets reported it as an earthquake. Why did I carry a rabbit’s foot? Because I needed all the good luck I could get. I stopped carrying a rabbit’s foot when I realized it hadn’t brought the rabbit much good luck.

I don’t enjoy writing about bad luck superstitions. Who needs more worry and stress? Poison ivy can bring a rash of bad luck. I’ve had wise elders tell me it’s bad luck to be superstitious and what’s bad luck for one person is good luck for another.

My father enjoyed watching the TV show “Hee-Haw.” One of its signature songs was done by backwoods characters swilling moonshine and singing, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Yet, that song was good luck for the writers and performers.

Many people believe that when their left palm itches, money is coming their way. I’m working on a product that will cause an itch on any left palm, including palm trees. Expect an incredible surge in the economy.

The way I figure, if you believe something is good luck and good fortune occurs, even if  it was a lovely coincidence or splendid serendipity, believing something brought the good luck didn’t hurt. I hope all is good in your neighborhood.

May your irrational superstitious beliefs bring you good luck.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.