Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Man's Superstition...

These days, I await the arrival of our local freebie advertiser, The Purcellville Gazette, with bated breath. Its Letters to the Editor section is a delightful collection of crackpottery; they'll publish just about anything, as long as it fills out the page. The result is a cross-section of the loony, the obsessive, and the addlepated, with a generous dollop of the Nativist, the Racist, and the Just Plain Wacky thrown in. Better bathroom reading you couldn't wish for.

Like, no doubt, much of the country, the bursting of the mortgage bubble has hit us hard. On a drive down Mountain Road, you might be forgiven for wondering if there are any houses that aren't for sale. Folks are getting desperate.

Desperate people resort to desperate methods. Last week's Gazette included a letter, meant in the satirical vein, but falling just short of its intended target. One Joseph LaFiandra noted a custom among hopeful sellers: burying a statue of St. Joseph, head-down, on the grounds of the home to be sold. (Why head-down? Got me, Snickelfritz.) LaFiandra, whose house had languished on the market for eons, said that he'd noticed that a statue of St. Joseph had disappeared from its customary spot in the house. He extracted a confession from his wife, who said she'd spirited the statue away some weeks before and buried it, the sooner to sell the house. LaFiandra's punch-line? He dug the statue up, cleaned it and restored it to its customary spot.

The house sold a week later. (Rim-shot!)

In the latest ish, Jami and Dave Dittmeier weighed in -- and watched the joke sail four hundred feet over their heads. Proprietors of something they are pleased to call The Christian Shoppe, they were, it is immediately evident, appalled at such an ignorant superstitious practice -- damned near Popery, it is clear from their subtext. Appealing, quite properly, to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, they assert, "We do not dispute the fact that people have sold property, but we question whether the burying of the object had anything to do with it. Why not bury a frying pan or some other inanimate object?" Such deplorable superstition! Such monstrous delusion!

"St. Joseph," they go on, "holds a special place in the history of Christianity, being the earthly father of Jesus and husband to Mary. We believe that every time a statue of St. Joseph is buried, satan [sic] has a good laugh."

Old Scratch's guffaw was as dust in the wind compared to mine when the Dittmeiers reached their own punch line:

"We believe that what sells property is prayer."

Comedy gold, Jerry! Comedy gold! You can't make stuff up like that!

I love that paper. Keep it coming, folks!


Anonymous said...

Greeting from Lovettsville. The article and following letter to the editor were great.

Christopher said...


I always wondered where that custom originated. My parents, who are about as intelligent and rational as regular church-goers can be, swear by it.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

I dunno where the practice started, but I sure have heard of it. One of many Sicilian superstitions, I suspect. I usually wrote such things off, like my mother's pouring salt across the doorstep of my paternal grandparents in the hope that they would die horribly. Well, they DID die, about 40 years later. Horribly? Well, not so much.

What I DO know for sure is that if you bury an orange peel behind the barn, it will cure warts.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of bathroom reading material, Neddie, a friend recently used an expression which I have always found amusing:

"He didn't know whether to shit or go blind."

We were wondering about the origins of this most descriptive, though curious, of expressions.

Sunny Jim

David said...

"I don't know whether to shit or wind my watch. Guess I'll just shit on my watch."
George Carlin

Neddie said...

Hello, Lovettsville! Don't be a stranger! (Or at least, don't be any stranger than you are now...)

Shit or go blind: Don't know, sounds military in origin, but a quick Google search finds a drink recipe that you might want to take cum granis saltis:

The Shit or Go Blind:

1.0 units rock salt only!
1.0 units only use water for "baby" version of this drink Water
1.0 units prune juice only!

Directions: Mix equal parts prune juice and wood alcohol (methanol). Drink, shit, and/or go blind. This is also known as Blind Man's Rush.

Oy. What people will do to themselves in search of Oblivion! A good, long pull at any reputable white or colored liquor bottle will achieve the same effect, without the shitting-or-going-blind features.

I tasted moonshine liquor once, under circumstances that are probably best not recounted here. It was really...quite...not good.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

I love that kind of stuff. You ought to write in fake letters and publish scans here for us. First adopt one nutty persona for the "pro" argument, and then pretend to be some other whackjob and write the rebuttal. See how long you can keep the arguments going!

Neddie said...

You ought to write in fake letters and publish scans here for us.

Oh man do I love this idea! Creationism, Right-Wing Politics, Home-Schooling, the Civil War, the Klan, Illegal Immigrants... The possibilities are endless!

Both sides have, of course, to be equally loony. Pro-Creationism, yes, but the Anti side has to assert that Charles Darwin was inspired by Guardian Angels....