Etiquette & superstition: eclipses, part two

It’s been a while since we talked about eclipses here, and I know I didn’t cover everything then. If I don’t get everything in this time, maybe I’ll try again in 2024.

ETIQUETTE: There are two things that most people are going to want to experience during a solar eclipse – darkness and an unimpeded view of the sky. So, if you are going to be around other people and happen to be in the path of totality,

During the total eclipse phase (a maximum of 2:40 at its area of longest duration this time around), be particularly careful about the following:

  • don’t take flash photos
  • don’t take selfies with your damn screen all lit up
  • don’t text (seriously, if you can’t keep yourself from texting for less than three minutes, I don’t even know what to tell you)

SUPERSTITION: Remember last time when we warned you about how you had to make a lot of racket to scare the giant sky dragon and make him barf up the sun? Turns out that’s not true. During an eclipse, what actually happens is this demon who got his head chopped off after the sun and moon ratted him out to Vishnu for stealing some immortality juice goes and eats the sun, but it’s okay because he’s only a head, so after he swallows the sun it just falls out of his neck hole and everything’s fine after a few minutes.

So relax and don’t worry about the eclipse, unless you’re a pregnant lady who wants to give birth to a healthy child. Aside from the cleft palate danger I mentioned in the previous post, a pregnant woman who goes out into the eclipse just might turn her unborn child into a mouse fetus.

Photo (cropped) of Sun Days Motel sign by Sam Howzit via Flickr


Etiquette & superstition: surprises

A lot of people hate surprises. I’m not sure why. The word does come from Latin and Old French words meaning “unexpected seizure,” so maybe that’s it.

ETIQUETTE: You know how certain old people are always yammering on about how young people today are uncivilized monsters with no sense of decorum? If you encounter one of these old people, just shoot back with a, “Yeah, well look at you people with your surprise parties you used to have.” Seriously. According to the 1951 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, the following is a perfectly acceptable way to throw a surprise party: “… John and Mary Neighbor are giving a dinner at home…. Meet in a house nearby and then troop in a procession, with quite possibly a band leading the way, to storm the house.” You just barge in on a small dinner party. With a marching band. Awesome, in a monstrously uncivilized way. You know, maybe you should just give a surprise party like this for the yammering old person. It will probably stop their yammering one way or another.

SUPERSTITION: Seeing a cart full of straw is an indicator of a nice surprise to come, as is rolling the number “3” on a die or drawing a “9” card. If a pregnant woman is startled by a rabbit, she will give birth to a child with a harelip.

Photo by L P on Flickr

Etiquette & superstition: candy

I’m finding it hard to believe that I’ve been posting on etiquette for nearly two years now and have not yet shared the anecdote about Andy Warhol at a fancy dinner party.

The story goes that when Warhol was starting to be recognized as a “serious” artist, he was suddenly invited to a lot of formal dinners. Not knowing which fork to use when the turtle was served, and not wanting to admit his lack of knowledge, he would simply refuse to take part in any of the meal, politely demurring, “Oh, I only eat candy.” Andy Warhol was a genius. Also a liar, of course.


ETIQUETTE: When eating candy from a box or tray where the candies are individually wrapped in those crinkly papers, you should take the candy from the box or tray in its wrapping; don’t leave the crinkly paper behind. Eat the candy and dispose of the paper. To tell you the truth, though, I don’t think I’ve ever found a good explanation of where you are supposed to put the paper; you’re just supposed to “properly dispose of the paper” and not leave it in the box or on the tray. Perhaps you should just eat the paper along with the candy. That’s probably what Andy Warhol would do.

SUPERSTITION: If an expectant mother wants a baby girl, she should eat plenty of candy while she’s pregnant. A single woman who eats the last piece of candy from the tray will be an old maid forever.

Etiquette & superstition: eclipses

The moon is sure being an attention hog this week, isn’t it? Right about now on the other side of the world the moon is busy eclipsing the sun. Calm down, moon. Celebrity is both a blessing and a curse.

ETIQUETTE: When viewing an eclipse in a public space, be considerate of other people and their photographic and/or astronomical apparatus. Aim to stay at least a full body’s length away from any equipment.

SUPERSTITION: A solar eclipse is what happens when a giant snake or dragon eats the sun, and it is a portent of great doom and tragedy. It’s best not to undertake any new task in the period three days prior to and three days after an eclipse. Pregnant women should stay indoors and not touch their bellies during both solar and lunar eclipses to prevent cleft palate and dramatic birthmarks on their children. And nobody should eat or drink during the solar eclipse, as food and water is poison during that time. Oh, this is terrible; we’re going to be starving and thirsty and shivering in the dark and our pregnant women can’t touch their bellies, which everybody knows is impossible if they’ve ever spent any time around pregnant women. It’s been said that if you make a lot of noise during the eclipse, the dragon will get scared and barf up the sun, so if you happen to have a tuba handy you might want to help us all out. Otherwise, I don’t know how we are going to survive this six minutes and thirty-nine seconds of utter hell.

Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 9:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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