Three is a magic number

I recently went through a little spate where it seemed every time the phone rang it was bad news. After receiving the third and worst piece of news, I thought to myself, “Well that’s three. Things can go on and get better now.”

And they did.

But, I wondered, why was that my first reaction? Why is it we always assume bad things happen in threes?

Maybe it is human nature to search for patterns where we can find no reason. Maybe it is because two events can be considered a coincidence, but when you get to three, mere chance seems more improbable. Maybe it is an attempt to impose control over situations where we feel we are swiftly losing it.

Who knows? What I do know is that my ever-optimistic nature feels a little guilty that Three gets such a bad rap. There are plenty of good things that come in threes as well, and here are some of my favorites.

Wheels – There are three wheels on a tricycle, and, coincidentally, I was three when I got my first one. Oh the speed and glorious freedom I experienced as I sailed hell for leather down Granny’s driveway. Even as Mama picked the gravel out of my knees wreck after spectacular wreck, I still could not wait to get back on that beautiful trike and ride.

Rings – There are three rings in a circus. The first circus I ever saw was a small traveling show that came through Citronelle and set up in the field next to the Convalescent Center. The Ringmaster led the clowns, bareback riders, animal trainers, and acrobats through a marvelous performance to everyone’s delight. It didn’t matter then that it was all slightly smelly, mangy, and seedy. To me, the costumes were beautiful, the animals exotic, and the people from foreign lands who could perform stunts we would never learn in Miss Joyce’s ballet class were freakish phenoms. It was all bizarre and curious and wonderful.

Flavors – There are three flavors in Neapolitan ice cream – strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla! Granny always always always had a carton of Neapolitan in the freezer for a special occasion. It was fancy, but not too much so – a little nicer than a plain ole one-flavor carton, but not as elegant and bridge-party as a lime sherbet. Unexpected company? Day-old pound cake? Plop a scoop of Neapolitan on the top and you’ve got yourself a party. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!

The Trinity – No, not THE Trinity, “thuh” trinity. Which isn’t to say that I’m not a big fan of THE Trinity, but that’s not what this particular story is about. Thuh trinity is the root of almost everything good that you can cook in a pot – onion, celery and bell pepper sweated in butter, bacon grease, or some other delectable fat. Gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, soup, stew, casserole…everything is better with these three homely little ingredients. Leave one out, and it’s just not quite the same.

See there? Good things can and do come in threes. And the next time the phone rings, I just know it’s going to be happy news!

4 thoughts on “Three is a magic number

  1. Deaths seem to come in three’s. After one or two you start to hold your breath until the third one, because it might be you! This is a small town thing since you tend to know everyone who has passed.

  2. Reading this on Monday morning and what a good way to start the week. Never heard the celery, onion, bell pepper combo referred to as “thuh trinity” but what a great expression!

Leave a Reply