(This might be turned into sequels if the article is successful in generating fantastic results in the worldwide box-office. Or at least RM3.00 to buy me two boxes of raisins which I live on these days).
Superstition has been part and parcel of our lives, or in most cases, those with pathetic miserable lives because we tend to cling on these beliefs like the stubborn phlegm reaching out for our upper lips even after we had just blown our nose. Especially picturesque if you have it draped on thick porn-star moustache. You are welcome.
But I have always had fascination towards the origin of these superstitious beliefs because, let’s face it, no matter how forward thinking you are, you still tend to be irrational when indulging certain actions.
For example, how many of us are preconditioned to stab the lift button repeatedly like Norman Bates in the seminal study on complex human behaviour titled Psycho even if we had already initiated it (the stabbing, not watching the movie) and the goddam lift is already coming down. Does multiple finger-poking (Kung Fu ala Three Stooges) of the incredulous button forcefully motivate the moving metal box to rush to our aid, while ignoring users from other floors who are probably indulging in severe act of intimacy with the lift button themselves even using non-human extensions like hammer or a tiny feline?
Anyway, let us examine some of the popular superstitions and I shall give the actual reason for their existence, and re-evaluate them. For example:
Throwing pinch of salt over the shoulder.
It is for good luck they say. For a simple symbolic reason of talking away the sour part of life and retain the more savoury part. It is like taking away all the computer graphic imagery scenes off the movie Avatar and…oh wait….
The real reason
Here it is: you are cooking for the first time for someone, and your girl friend, boy friend, spouse, neighbour, colleagues, in-laws or political candidate on his or her rounds begging for vote approach you from behind to appraise your superior culinary expertise which mostly consist of dropping instant noodle onto a boiling pot.
In order to even out the situation so that you can be alone with your pots and utensils without unfavourable intrusion, you need to have a jar or a bottle of salt on standby. I shall reveal how.
As soon as an irrelevant personage who fancies himself or herself a vastly knowledgeable person makes an unwelcomed entry into the kitchen the following scene should ensue, as I imagined it:
Visitor: So, you are cooking eh?
You: Yes, I am. I wanted to butcher an African bison, but I misplaced the cleaver.
Visitor: Misplaced your cleavage eh? Hmm…err…what are you cooking now?
Visitor: Aha, I spot a sachet of curry flavoured powder there. You see_
You: (toss salt over the shoulder)
Visitor: (runs away, palms over the eyes) Aieeee…me eyes…me eyes…how am I going to, henceforth, watch the English Premier League sponsored by Tiger beer or is it Carlsberg? The horror, the horror, the horror…Brando, Coppola, Apocalypse Now, 1978.
So, you know why now. Of course, these sort of precautions should be taken with…err a pinch of salt. It might be me behind you.
In the movie Donnie Brasco, Al “hoohah!” Pacino teaches Johnny “the pirate named after a bird” Depp to cook. And in the beginning of the session, Pacino throws not a pinch, but a “punch” of salt. It was beguiling to Depp and us the audience as he repeatedly asked whether it was a “pinch” to which Al “YELLS for no reason” Pacino corrects and affirms that it is a “punch”. Maybe Pacino did that subconsciously to excise the ghost of Marlon Brando, not the swelt “Stella!” Brando, but the latter day Marlon “Jabba the Hut” Brando. (Any writing with the mention of Brando more than once is worth the writer’s salt…okay, no more “salt”)
2. Don’t let a black cat cross you.
I love cat and I find this superstition infuriating. Get it? In-Fur-riating. Haha. Well…er-hum…
Coming back to the superstition, apparently black cat brings you bad luck, no thanks to its association with witches and a fantastically eerie short story by early 19th century gothic/horror/alcoholic/possible murderer writer Edgar Allan Poe, which was titled, though the reason is unclear due to the unabashed subtlety, The Black Cat.
Apparently, if a goddam black cat crosses you, you are in for a bad luck. Like finding out that you girl-friend has been cheating on you, telling you that she is out to get a manicure more than once a day when she is actually a superhero saving the world. That backstabbing dung beetle. I mean, we blokes are smart enough to know that women get their manicure once a day five times a week right? Right?
The real reason
Actually it is so simple that I slapped myself silly for not even realising it in the first place. But of course, it also made me realise this, my self-inflicted full-palmed facial encounter can be inconsolably agonising.
There is a perfect good reason why a cat would want to face risk of being splattered by your poorly maintained sneakers, simply because there is a vermin around – a rat. Perhaps you brought the goddam rodent with you no thanks to your own possession of certain bodily odour that invites the snivelling creatures which has a pair of arse bigger than its head. And as the cat rushes to save you from the buck-toothed plague carrying terror, you are unable to see the former due to its natural blend with shadow during moments of poor lighting (when the world is lighted by either cinematographers Gordon Willis or the budget version, P.C. Sriram) only to have you crush the feline’s back.
We all know how black cats are indubitably associated with witches (played by Susan Sarandon and the delectable Michelle Pfeifer [dear, she was into me before I met you, but I dumped her after she played Catwoman, I have enough cats in my life]). It will earn the wicked member of the fair sex’s ire if you were to step on their cats. They want the cat to be perfect condition before it is lowered into a boiling cauldron.
Yikes, the end…
Well, I have to stop for now because this piece has hit over thousand words and that is a no-no in blogs where most folks lose interest right after they read the first word because in another tab of the browser someone has posted something in the Facebook walls about a lost cat with crushed back.
I shall be back with more superstitions explained, and you may even want me to do research on other popular pantang as we say it here in Malaysia. You can mail a US$1 trillion check to me as it can be used to do my research as well as balance the world budget from a secret lair I am intending to establish in the moon where there will be no salt or black cats, or salted black cats.