With Halloween around the corner, I decided to talk about something that is creepier than a lot of folks seem to think. I call them the four types of prophecy.
First and least creepy is the nut case prophecy. We’re all familiar with them. According to the nut case prophets, the world should have ended several times already this year. And if anyone says, “Well, what if one of the times, the nut is right?” All I can answer is, I have no use for a God that would deliberately trick people into perdition for his own amusement.
Next, we’ve all heard of self-fulfilling prophecies – in other words, when something goes wrong because it’s expected to go wrong. They’re all around us.
Not so well known, I think, is the self-defeating prophecy, in which things go wrong that weren’t expected to go wrong. Maybe we just don’t like to think about them. With self-fulfilling prophecies, we can always point and say, “I told you so.” Perhaps we’d rather pretend that the self-defeating prophecies were never made in the first place.
But they were. Examples could be, “You won’t see me losing my hair,” or “This time the weight is staying off,” or even, “I’m going to make all A’s this year.” Those are all self-defeating prophecies made by yours truly at one time or another. And probably by others as well.
And then there is a fourth kind of prophecy, which I call the jynx prophecy. Do not tell me there’s no such thing. “Just two more pitches and he’ll have a no hitter,” says the announcer, right before you hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd.
Sometimes, it can even be a self-jynxing prophecy, such as the one I unwittingly pronounced on myself.
It was during one of those times I was having my usual hand, shoulder, feet and back problems with arthritis, that I uttered my self-jinxing prophecy, while I mused on all those who have a certain other arthritic problem:
“Well,” I said to myself, “at least my knees aren’t bothering me. (cue the ‘oh-oh’ music here). I guess I’m just lucky in that regard.”
It wasn’t long after that, as I climbed some stairs, that I felt the tiniest twinge in my right knee. I told myself it was probably mental, that I was remembering my prophecy with a guilty conscience.
Then came a play I was in at East Arkansas Community College, when I tripped on something backstage and landed hard on that same right knee. It hurt like the blazes for a while, but then I was able to get up and go about my business for the remainder of the play.
So I went my merry way, with just that simple little twinge every once in a while. “Not so bad,” I thought, compounding the self-jynxing prophecy and all but turning it into a curse. It was only a matter of time.
Fast forward to this past Sunday morning. I know this has happened to others. I’ve had it described to me by others. But I never dreamed it would happen to me.
Understand, I was not playing football, or climbing Mount Everest, or fighting zombies. Just like the other people who have told me about their experience, I wasn’t doing anything unusual at all.
I got up and went about getting ready for church with no problems. I had to get there a little early because they needed me to lead the singing for the traditional service. Not that I’m all that great, but the congregation seems to sing better when someone’s leading them.
Anyway, we choir members got in an settled as usual, there were announcements as usual, and a prelude as usual.
Then it was time for the first hymn, and I began to stand. I barely got off the seat when it hit. My knee, screaming at me. I almost fell. If I had been taking a step when that happened, I probably would have fallen, the way so many others have.
As it was, I managed to limp to the podium and lead the first song. As I limped back to my regular spot a fellow choir member and part time Angel of Mercy, also known as Holly Baxter, saw my plight, left the choir and a few minutes came back with an ice pack for my knee. It did help a little.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have great distances to walk, and I got through the service. I was determined to make it back up the stairs to the choir room, earning me the name, “hard-head” from my Angel of Mercy. Don’t ask me why I was so determined.
Anyway, I now have a bum knee, which seems to be taking its sweet time about getting better.
And I keep going back to the prophecy. Did I actually jynx myself, or even curse myself? Or could it be that there’s no such thing as jynxing or cursing, that it was going to happen anyway, no matter what I said or didn’t say?
I do know this. Come Halloween, if my knee isn’t better, Alice may have to take over the duties of candy giver-outer. She doesn’t enjoy it as much as I do
So trick or-treaters, if no one else, should hope for my speedy recovery.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: David Nichol is a freelance writer who recently retired from the Times-Herald. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)