Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting mileage from superstitious characters...

In the 1989 movie Drugstore Cowboy, (starring a young Matt Dillon as a Seattle drug addict), there is this great superstitious character scene.

Or, at least, it was great in my memory. Heather Graham plays this pretty junkie girl. And she and her friends are all really tense about something (I think they robbed a drugstore, or somebody is after them. I totally don’t remember that movie!) but somebody puts a hat on a bed, and she freaks out, because a hat on a bed is supposed to mean somebody is going to die. She really, really believed it, and got really upset, and it became this big deal in that scene.

I really loved it, and the way superstition worked on so many levels. For one thing, the strength of her belief suggested she came from a highly superstitious family, maybe not well educated or old school in some way, or at least it filled in her character nicely for me as an excitable girl, not big into scientific explanations. Also, it added something to the scene, this sense of foreboding. But more than that, it became a kind of Rorschach Ink blot test, with everybody reacting to it, some angrily, some dismissive, some defiant. It revealed character.

The superstition got so much mileage. I don’t use superstition in my characters, and remembering that scene makes me wonder why the hell I don’t. Because, there was so much mileage from it. (In my mind. Now I need to watch it again. Have you ever totally remembered things in movies as better than they really are?)

Maybe I’ll work one into a sexy scene! Or not. Here, for your Saturday morning delectation, I present some other superstitions about beds:
  • Do not lean a broom against a bed. The evil spirits in the broom will cast a spell on you as you sleep.
  • Turning a feather bed on a Sunday gives you and your beloved nightmares for a week. 
  • Make the foot of the bed before the head, or else you’ll never wed!
  • Do not EVER cut things (paper, cardboard, cloth, etc.) on your bed! No mixing craft and romance scenes, therefore. 
  • Pregnant women should never do their sewing on the bed in which the child was conceived or the child will have no mouth.  
  • If the head of a bed is placed towards the north it foretells a short life, south signifies a long life, the east means riches, the west travel.
  • My fave: If a single woman sleeps with a piece of wedding cake under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband. 


  1. dammit - so much for that scrapbooking sex scene I was working on!

  2. But... but... where else am I supposed to wrap Christmas presents? Also, the head of our bed's been on the east wall for four years and I still haven't seen my riches yet. What's that all about? ;o)

    Great post, Carolyn. I've never seen that movie, but the scene sounds intriguing.