Local News

Freaky Fridays

— If your alarm clock didn’t go off this morning and your breakfast started with sour milk, well, today is Friday the 13th.

Joe Donahue has seen decades worth of bad luck on Friday the 13th.

“First, in ‘53, my brother’s bike was stolen,” the Sebring man said.

In 1954, someone swiped the family car, Donahue said. And that same year, he came down with spinal meningitis.

But, Donahue added, both his brother’s bike and the family car were recovered. And spinal meningitis took eight weeks out of his life, but he also recovered.

“Bottom line,” he concluded, “Friday the 13th was pretty good to me.”

Not everyone feels so lucky. A Travelodge survey showed one-third of friggatriskaidekaphobic Britons change their plans to avoid bad luck. (For word lovers, Frigga was the Norse goddess for whom Friday was named, triskaideka is Greek for 13, and phobia is a fear.)

There have been plenty of Friday the 13th disasters to prove their point:

Hurricane Charley razed south Florida on Friday, the 13th of August 2004. With $8 billion in damage, it was the most destructive storm to hit the United States since Andrew in 1992.

Rapper Tupac was pronounced dead on Friday, the 13th of September 1996.

A plane with 45 rugby team members, friends and families crashed into the Andes on Friday, the 13th of October 1972. Sixteen survived for 72 days by resorting to cannibalism.

A storm and floods killed 1 million people in Bangladesh on Friday, the 13th of November 1970.

Frances Coles, a 25-year-old prostitute, was the last of the 11 Whitechapel murder victims on Friday, the 13th of February 1891. According to legend, Jack the Ripper slashed her throat from ear to ear.

One, two or three Friday the 13ths appear every year on the calendar. Although people scoff at superstition, most wouldn’t purposely schedule a wedding on Friday the 13th. According to The Knot’s annual survey, the number of Friday the 13th weddings drops 21 percent.

Still, Amie Schwartz defied convention. “I was married on Friday the 13th, eight years ago.”

Luck is what we make it, said two readers.

Carson Johns was born on a Friday the 13th, has already gone through a second, and will turn nine months today, his third Friday the 13th.

“He’s a happy boy,” his father, Ben Johns, said Thursday. “He’s not unlucky. It was a long labor, but that was on a Thursday. He was born on a Friday, and that was pretty easy. We’ll see tomorrow if there’s anything funky happening.”

“I was born on Friday the 13th,” Rhonda Beckman agreed. She’s the executive director of Ridge Area Arc. “I do not worry about most superstitions, probably because of this.”

As for the future, asteroid 99942 Apophis is predicted to have a close encounter with Earth on Friday the 13th April 2029. How close? Closer than the orbits of Earth’s communication satellites, and that’s close enough that NASA thinks the Earth’s gravity could affect future passes. On April 13, 2036, the 1,066-foot wide Apophis could strike the Earth or the moon or April 13, 2036. Which is an Easter Sunday.