by Elise Seyfried
OK, since it’s just you and me here, I’ll share a secret with you: I have ultimate power. I can make things happen. I can also keep things from happening. How do I do it? Simple: I wear my lucky earrings. I sleep on the left side of the bed. I eat the same yogurt breakfast every day. As long as I stick to these rituals, all will be well. Do you want your sports team to win? Do NOT allow me anywhere near the field of play. One glance from me is enough to send the opponent’s score skyrocketing. Do you want your beautiful outdoor wedding to go off without a hitch? Remove me from your guest list or prepare for a deluge. On the other hand, make sure I’m concentrating on you, and am clad in my lucky sweater, if you want to ace your SATs. Bring me along, sitting of course in my lucky fifth row center seat, to ensure a brilliant concert performance.
I learned of my special powers in first grade. My first day of school, I accidentally boarded the wrong bus home. Dad had brought me on a regular New York City bus in the morning. In the afternoon, as I climbed onto the rather different big orange vehicle, I noticed that there were no advertisements for Seagram’s Whiskey inside, nor was there a charge to ride. Hmmm. The principal, Sister Agnita, discovered my error, clambered aboard and yanked me out of my seat, chastising me all the way to the curb.
On several other occasions that year, Sister A appeared the second I did something wrong, like committing the cardinal sin of going to the main office for the SSR (sustained silent reading) materials 10 minutes before I was supposed to run this errand. She literally screamed at me. I was terrified of her. When summer came at last, I began to pray, earnestly: “Please God don’t let Sister Agnita come back in September!” I had spoken, and my wish was apparently the Almighty’s command. In July, my Nana was reading the New York Times on the porch at the beach. “Elise, wasn’t your principal named Sister Agnita? I’m reading her obituary!” Wow!! I had killed her with my thoughts!!
From then on, I was a force to be reckoned with. As I grew, I noticed my control over life’s ups and downs increased. If I played the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album while I was writing a paper, I was guaranteed an A. “Abbey Road” wouldn’t do at all. It was uncanny; not only did what I wore, ate and listened to determine the future — saying certain things at certain times also seemed to make a difference. For example, I felt the motorists in my life were always protected as long as I was there upon their departure to say these precise words: “Drive safely—don’t let me worry about you!” When my husband Steve once left abruptly for work, I actually ran after his car, shouting my magical phrase. Better safe than sorry!
These days, I arrive at my church job at 8:15 a.m. (not 8:14, not 8:16) to ensure smooth sailing (after putting on those lucky earrings and drinking three cups of coffee — not two, not four.) I end every phone call to my children with “I love you,” even when it seems comically inappropriate to do so: “PJ, you left the kitchen a mess. You forgot to take out the trash. You didn’t mail the package I needed you to mail. I love you, PJ.”
There are times when I wonder if I really do wield all this influence on destiny. Is it a fact that I am singlehandedly responsible for the weather? Would the kids have been accepted to college if I had not been the first one at the mailbox to see the admissions letters? Does my choice of coffee cup truly change the course of my day?
Is it possible that I am just a superstitious nut?
Possible, perhaps. But why take a chance?
Sunday will be a big day at work. Better wear my lucky red high heels. Then I’ll be all set.
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. She is also the author of a self-published book, “Unhaling: On God, Grace and a Perfectly Imperfect Life.”