Words have power. I think we can all agree to this. Despite mothers worldwide soothing their children with “sticks and stones may break my bones,” kids know better. Words hurt like needles. Really harsh words make your soul feel like it’s raining cartoon anvils.

Joe Btfsplk, from the L’il Abner comic strip, by Al Capp.

Somebody at work pulled me aside at work, with a resigned look in her eyes, and said “somebody cursed me, you know.” Well, I told her, that’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure people curse me all the time (usually behind my back because I’m bigger than they are). Then I went back to work and thought nothing of it until, 2 hours later, she told me again, “Someone cursed me.” Again, dense fellow that I am, I merely nodded and dragged home 2 bags of cat litter and a pound of delicious ground coffee.

I didn’t make the connection until an hour or so later–she wasn’t saying somebody called her a Hog-lovin’ Methodist. She meant Curse, with a capital C, in the malediction, imprecation, fulmination, execration burn-your-eyebrows-and-pets-while-you-sleep kind of way. The Evil Eye. It’s not raining cartoon anvils. For her, the anvils are real, and moreover, they’re piano-sized.

It would be easy, in the 21st century, to laugh away such a claim. We cherish our idea of a mechanistic universe, held together with cogs and bobby pins, but there is so much we are unable to explain. Where do our unmatched socks go, for example.

Ever had a string of bad luck? Carried a lucky coin? The Scottish of earlier centuries peed on their doorposts to keep the ghosts out of their homes and we’re talking about men brave enough to wear kilts year-round in Scottish weather!

My first thought was that she believes she was cursed, and on Holy Week too. How ironic and sad that would be.

Then I thought it was all nonsense; that bad luck is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You think you are cursed, so you notice the bad things happen, so you begin doing things badly, which of course you notice, which of course proves the curse, and so on. It’s the ultimate slippery slope. Causality at its angriest.

Ultimately, I decided that the best I could do was to offer the comfort that I could, and carry home my 2 bags of kitty litter, because even if curses are real, and she’s carrying around the onus of an Evil Eye, it’s her battle. I can’t make a ward for her. If curses are false, I can’t break the cycle of self-fulfilling bad luck.

So if you’re cursed, I guess I’m telling you that the best I can offer is the comfort of a kind word and a cup of strong coffee. A curse is a personal battle, at its core, and the best I can offer is advice: Buy a stronger umbrella to keep the rain off.


One thought on “Curses!”

  1. I think the real curse may have come from your cats, who make you cart home endless bags of kitty litter.

    Not sure about curses, but I have received my fill of “helpful feedback” which was based on a bad premise, but that cut me to bone. I have been told many times that I am aggressive and mean. I think my words are perceived as mean largely because…well I am large.

    It is too bad, that when you are cursed or when someone perceives something you said as a curse, that there is not an investigative journalist handy to ask followup questions. Where is Heraldo when you need him?


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