Friday the 13th Umphang

Several years ago my ex-wife, daughter, and I set out from Chai-nat for Umphang, which is one of Thailand’s most remote regions. I had calculated seven hours for the 500 kilometer trip. It took almost eleven hours of white-knuckle driving through the jungled mountains. The road in Umphang had been known as Death Highway back in the last century and a pick-up truck nearly smashed into us on a blind curve. We were lucky to arrive at our destination in one piece, since I hadn’t realized that today was Friday the 13th.

While the number 12 symbolizes completeness for numerologists, 13 has a reputation of a prime number steeped with irregularity, further tarnished by Jesus and the Twelve Apostles numbering 13 at the Last Supper and now in the Christian world 13 people at a table is feared to doom one of the guests to death .

Other cultures also consider 13 bad luck. The Turks effectively banned the number from their language. Vikings feared that if 13 guests sat to dinner, all of them would die within a year under the curse of Loki, their god of mischief. Some humans reject this belief and Manhattan has both East and West 13th Streets, however many high-rises on that fabled borough are missing the 13th floor.

Many superstitions have their base in gambling and gamblers exhibit an extraordinary fear of the #13 aka triskaidekaphobia.

Unlike the West Thais regard the number 4 as unlucky, although you’ll notice on Thai Air flights there is no row 13.

Personally I think 13’s reputation comes from the age at which Jewish boys used to be circumcised and nothing is more unlucky for a man than losing a piece of your penis, unless you’re a ka-toey.

Black Sabbath also released their first album on Feb. 13, 1970.

The date had nothing to do with ladyboys.

Although with Ozzie you can never be sure.

Other well-known gambling phobias

Never sit at seat #10 at a poker table.

Always wear red underwear when gambling.

In craps, always blow on the dice before you roll them. That apparently seals in the luck. However, should the dice leave the table, the next throw will be bad.

Poker players should switch card protectors if luck is running bad.

For some dropping a card during a game is very bad luck. Others, however contend you should raise your next bet in that circumstance suggesting that it’s good luck.

Always enter and leave a casino through the same door.

Singing can be either good luck or bad luck while you gamble.

Don’t count your money during a poker session.

Stay away from sex the night before you play. (Not the most popular superstition).

Never let dogs near a gambling table. (Apparently they’re bad luck and no good at poker).

Never accept being paid with a $50 bill. They’re called “Frogs” and are said to be unlucky.

Never touch someone’s shoulder while he is gambling.

Don’t enter a casino through its main entrance; it’s cursed.

Switch on all the lights at home before leaving to gamble.

Nothing really bad happened this Friday the 13th.

At least not yet.

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