When your number’s up


Autumn arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on Tuesday, September 22 at 9:31 a.m. New York time.

I’m glad it’s not the day before or the day after. In my experience the number 22 is sandwiched right in the middle of two unlucky dates.

Twenty-one is considered lucky to many people. You’re a winner in the card game blackjack if your cards add up to 21. The ‘angel number’ 21 is lucky when it comes to love and relationships. The 21 Club in New York City is a famous restaurant if you’re lucky enough to be rich. I used to think 21 was lucky because on the 21st day of the month I was given the gift of life.

But a year and nine months ago, 21 turned on me big time. On the 21st of December, 2018 — 21 months ago — my wife died. The fire went out. A cold depression set in and lingers to this day. So 21 became one damn unlucky number for me.

Now it’s right up here with the number 23, the age my son died. Also, the 23rd day of the month was the date my oldest brother was killed in a car crash.

Take 13 — please!

The number 13 is unlucky for many. The 1970 Apollo 13 Moon mission is a classic example, summed up in the famous transmission from the spacecraft to Mission Control, on April 13 no less, “Houston, we have a problem.”

An oxygen tank exploded. Actually astronaut. Jack Swigert said, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” but it was tightened up for dramatic purposes. As it turned out the craft limped back to Earth (if you can call 24,000 miles an hour limping) with three saved souls on board, so in that sense 13 turned out to be lucky.

As I thought it was for me many years ago when my son was born on the 13th — Friday the 13th. But whereas Apollo 13 ended up lucky, my son’s 13 did not, as an overdose of barbiturates proved.

Another bad 13 for me was the death of my other brother on the 13th day of the month.

Nothing about the numbers game is scientific or even predictable. Like life, it’s all a crap shoot, and when your number’s up, you get deep-sixed. (I just summed up life in three clichés — my old English teacher would be rolling in his grave.)

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