I am not a superstitious man. I do not see how a rational person could think you get bad luck simply by breaking wind in front of a mirror or letting a black man cross your path. But I must admit, however, that there have been moments when even I have doubts, as if there could be some truth behind such beliefs as avoiding bad luck by knocking up a woodchuck.
One of those moments occurred a few months ago when I was having lunch with an 18th century gypsy whom I had never met. This was unusual for me because I rarely partake in such intimate activities with strangers, but she seemed kind of hot under her floral headdress, and I wondered whether she would come to my apartment, or I to her tent. Anyway, none of this matters now because we began arguing over the societal consequences of the Industrial Revolution and I called her a cunt.
Things changed quickly. She mumbled incantations while I continued sipping my coffee, thinking that she still seemed kind of hot and how I keep getting cockblocked by the Industrial Revolution. And then she grinned.
The sensation was not immediate. It crept up like a ninja with broken legs.
“An ancient curse befalls you,” she said. “I put it in your coffee.”
To show her how little I cared, I chugged the rest of the coffee, ignoring the printed warning that the beverage I was about to enjoy was hot, and then left, burnt tongue notwithstanding.
That was when it started. As soon as I got out the door: elephant.
Let me explain. It seemed that unlike most curses that befall people, this one was particularly specific in that my life would remain unchanged except for the occasional trampling by elephants. This would not be a big deal except that you would occasionally be trampled by elephants.
It also gets tiring after a while. For example, I was outside one time, singing and twirling in the grass, the hills were alive with the sound of music, and then boom: elephant.
Or that time when I was a bit hung over and woke up where the clouds were far behind me, and I wondered why I couldn’t fly over the rainbow like the blue birds did, and then pow: elephant.
Or that time when I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and I looked at my life and realized there was nothing left. I had been blasting and laughing so hard that even my momma thought that my mind had gone, and then shama lama ding dong: baby sea otter. This turn of events and moment of relative good fortune provided much relief before it was followed once again by: the fattest elephant ever.
I gave up. As much I wanted to believe that there was no such thing as curses, I did come into more contact with elephants in a week than an elephant whisperer. All of my clothes were torn, and my bones were nearly all broken. I tried everything to cleanse myself of this, but nothing helped. The woodchuck didn’t work.
Finally, I crawled back to the gypsy, begging for my release.
“You are an ignorant man,” she said.
“Yes, I know,” I said, tears threatening to burst. “But you must help me remove this curse.”
“And I see that you are still ignorant. There was never a curse.”
“What do you mean?”
“It was regular coffee.”
“You mean..” I paused, “I had a shitty week all by myself?”
I was rather confused. This kind of ending was strangely familiar but without the happy inspirational moment to which I had grown accustomed.
“But how do you explain the random elephants?”
Her explanation made a lot more sense at the time, and is probably something you should not worry too much about, something to do with my own belief that elephants would come and so I had sent out energy into the universe which then listened and provided me with elephants. This admittedly did not explain the baby sea otter, but I preferred baby sea otters to remain mysterious.
“I’m sorry I called you a cunt,” I said. “Maybe the Industrial Revolution really is an evil of society, forcing children into labor and making countless jobs obsolete.”
“And I’m sorry I did not let you know earlier about your supposed curse. Maybe once we sort things out, the Industrial Revolution really can bring welcome changes to the advancement of the human race and provide us with wonderful technologies that make our lives easier.”
At the risk of sounding like a romantic, it was a sweet moment. We were alone in her tent, and fireflies danced outside in our own version of a starry night. I leaned into her ear and whispered, “I have a strong belief that we’re going to spend the night together.”
She blushed, smiled, and then leaned into mine. “The universe hears you.”