SCIENCE VS. SUPERSTITION: ROUND TWO
Leonard Mendle is extremely superstitious. After he drops a hand mirror while trying to shave his back, he decides to steer clear of the dangerous outside world and stay in his house, where he will wait out the next seven years. A concerned friend arranges for Dr. Gloria Weiss, psychiatrist, to visit Mr. Mendle regularly in an effort to convince him to go outside, and to clear up his lingering mother issues.
It’s an intense battle of wills that doesn’t end until some six and a half years later when Mr. Mendle suddenly comes to his senses, embraces reason, and steps confidently outside. Unfortunately, he now experiences severe anxiety when venturing more than twelve feet from his front door. Palpitations, dizziness and the intolerable feeling of sunshine on his skin force Mr. mendle back into his house, where he will wait out the next thirty or forty years.
Although Amy Pembrook of the Springdale Theater Company has always been careful to say “break a leg” instead of “good luck,” she repeatedly forgets her lines and knocks over the scenery. Eventually she’s fired and must take a job as tour guide at the Museum of Natural History, where she continues to forget her lines and knock things over, including the Woolly Mammoth on three separate occasions.
Winner: Technically, science. But the real winner is the Springdale Theater Company, whose ticket sales rise sharply with the news of Ms. Pembrook’s termination.
Twelve-year-old Marty Doyle takes enormous pains to avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks, so that things won’t get worse for his mother, who already suffers from sciatica. His three-block walk to and from school takes forty minutes each way and is a source of great amusement for the neighbors, to the point that they eagerly set up lawn chairs every afternoon.
One day, while performing an awkward pirouette that sparks a round of applause from his audience, Marty’s calculator falls from his pocket. After its impact with the sidewalk, there’s now a crack on the narrow display screen. In a panic, Marty takes a cab the remaining block home, rushes into the house and discovers that, although his mother’s back is not in fact broken, she’s lost the ability to do simple math problems in her head.
Winner: No one — especially not Marty’s mother, because in addition to sciatica, she suffers from alcoholism and routinely loses the ability to do simple math problems.
Tarot card reader Estelle Rodriguez advises one of her regular customers that dire misfortune is assured if she comes in close proximity to a proton accelerator. Heeding this ominous warning, Karen Stauffer, flight attendant, goes out of her way to avoid the object in question.
Then, by pure chance, her fiance’ gives her a proton accelerator for Christmas. Two days later, when he finds out that she took it back for store credit, he breaks off the engagement, thus fulfilling the prophecy and getting out of a relationship in which he already felt trapped.
Winner: Estelle Rodriguez, who gets forty bucks per reading.
On a particularly competitive episode of _Wheel of Fortune_, paranormal investigator Stan Carlton finishes behind biologist Annette Munroe, automatically casting doubt on every wacky theory he’s ever postulated. And his manhood.
Winner: Wanda Putnam, secretary, who finishes ahead of both Mr. Carlton and Dr. Munroe with a total of $16,250 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Acapulco.