Superstition Ain’t the Way

*Advance warning to my non-sports friends: this is mostly about stupid human tricks, but football does come up a few times.  It also dates back to early October, when my then-undefeated team faced one of our rivals. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

 I thought I had everything.

I had on the particular orange t-shirt that I’d worn every game day so far this season. I put on my gold tiger paw earrings, my silver tiger paw necklace, and my two orange rubber bracelets, one with CLEMSON stamped into it and the other speaking up for the ASPCA (but I wore it because it, too, was orange).

I had everything but the underwear.

I swear, I’d picked up one of the two “lucky game day” pairs of orange bikinis with little red cherries embroidered on them, Victoria’s Secret circa about four years ago. I’d held them in my hand, but I couldn’t find them now. I must have set them down somewhere, but damned if I had a clue where, and nothing puts a crimp in getting dressed quite like not being able to locate my underwear. And in my own house, too; most of the missing-underwear stories I’d heard or might have told over the years involved being at someone else’s house. Having the same thing happen here at home was like being flipped off by karma.

After retracing my steps between dryer, bedroom, and closet so many times I felt like an OCD patient on the locked ward, I gave the hell up. I got the second-tier lucky bikinis out of the drawer. These were also orange but had cherries screen-printed on them all over, not embroidered in the corner. It made me nervous. These things matter.

Has this ever happened to you?

I hate being superstitious. It’s like admitting you still believe in Santa Claus, well into your thirties, or it would be if a significant segment of the population didn’t secretly think the same thing. Some people get all exercised over a black cat; some hyperventilate if you leave a hat on the bed; some are hung up on the number thirteen. I, by comparison, am but a garden-variety superstitious sports fan, but you’ll never convince me that Clemson didn’t lose that fucking football game to borderline-pathetic Georgia Tech without a little nudge of bad luck because I couldn’t find my orange panties with the little red cherries on them. Never.

See, it feels like it works. Like the t-shirt. I’d worn that same t-shirt with the cool “Thunder and Lightning” graphic for every game since Florida State, because I’d worn it then and we’d won. Never mind that it had a purple tarnish stain on it — from my lucky necklace, no less — that refused to come out in the wash. Never mind that if you sorted my 100,000-plus t-shirts into themes I’d have enough Clemson game-day clothes to wear them like Kleenex for the next five years: wear it once and throw it away, and I’d still have some for next season. Several of these shirts date back to my college days. I have favorite clothes that, were they human, would be old enough to drive.

Doesn’t everyone do this, for all kinds of reasons? I have silver donkey earrings I wear every election day. They ushered in Bill Clinton and watched proudly over the Democratic victories last fall. Last summer, I wore an ankle bracelet whenever I worked on my novel, and the work I did seemed consistently stronger on the days I wore it.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t one of those Life Turning Points in which a mildly OCD person suddenly goes off the rails completely. Am I one more ball game away from choosing a lucky pair of earrings to wear to job interviews? Will I wake up next Thursday and not leave the house until I’ve seen a blue jay through the window? Will I have to sing some particular song in the shower every morning for reasons I can’t even speculate about? I imagine myself in a white room, on a white couch, in a white straitjacket, saying to a white-bearded doctor, “It all started with orange underwear.” Pause. “And I have to tell you, we’re not going to make any progress in this room, because my lucky color isn’t beige.”

While I was hunting for the escaped panties, I thought, reasonably, This is all superstitious crap, you know. They’re not going to lose because you can’t find your damn underwear with the cherries on it. The world doesn’t work that way. I stopped and considered this dose of reality for a moment. It had to be the truth: how could something I couldn’t find to wear, over 200 miles from the stadium, have anything to do with how the game would turn out? They’d win or lose based on plays, teamwork, a lot of fans showing up from Clemson… It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the panties. And then I remembered Kevin Costner, in “Bull Durham,” talking about Nuke the pitcher swearing off sex: You’ve been around this game long enough to know that if he thinks [he’s winning] because he’s not having sex, it IS because he’s not having sex.

I couldn’t find the goddamn panties.

Clemson lost to a much weaker team, 13-3. They made more mistakes and committed more penalties than they’d done so far in the other four games this season.

I watched the news earlier this week, in which one of the most talented players on the team was asked why he thought they lost. He looked near tears and said something to the effect of Maybe I’m not as good a player as I thought I was.

No, dude, I thought, switching off the news. You lost because I couldn’t find the right pair of orange panties.


13 Responses to “Superstition Ain’t the Way”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Orange panties! ha ha ha… I have a pair, need me to send them?

  2. thelittlefluffycat Says:

    That’s just silly. I’m the one in charge of teams winning. And that’s why only my teams win. All teams that win? My teams. And why do they win, you ask? Because I shout at them through the TV set, and they hear and obey. When my teams don’t win, it’s because they’ve broken out the tinfoil hats again.

  3. thelittlefluffycat Says:

    Just in case you missed my point–panties have nothing to do with it.

  4. Wanda Rizzuto Says:

    Lucky drawers, eh? Us Yankee fans don’t have these kinds of hangups.

  5. The lucky underwear is very attractive.

  6. If it weren’t for attentional inconsistencies, I would have these kind of habits. I love rituals and traditions but the shiny things of the moment seem to win out.

  7. thelittlefluffycat Says:

    oooh, shiny things…

  8. Hmm — let’s hope little fluffy cats everywhere like teams named after other cats, albeit considerably larger?

    What I didn’t say here is I probably have the world’s largest underwear collection anyway. Lots of it is orange, but not all of those are lucky…

  9. Hmm — I’m surprised that BGG hasn’t posted on here yet, since it is about panties, after all…

  10. Wanda Rizzuto Says:

    Why hasn’t bigcocky come to visit me?

  11. pandemonic Says:

    Yes, why hasn’t he come to visit me? We used to be such good friends too…

  12. supercrone Says:

    As I think I mentioned elsewhere, since I live commando style, underwear plays no part in my day (or night) planner. Have you considered going that route during football season? Surely if the players were aware of your pantslessness, it would inspire them to great heights of touch downery, don’t you think?

  13. jojovtx1800 Says:

    Lucky panties indeed, and just which team was it that they lost to that week?

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