“Break a mirror and you’ll have seven years of bad luck.” That was one of my father’s silly superstitions.
What is true, I discovered just this morning on the brown and purple envelope of my instant oatmeal: In 1291, a Venetian glass company produced mirrors. My, how that one Italian invention has changed the world!
Some people spend a lot of time looking at the 720-year-old invention, while others totally avoid those reflective objects altogether. The mirrors I like best are found in funhouses at amusement parks. Who wouldn’t laugh at the image of a distorted self? Big head, skinny legs, elongated arms. Freaks. (Yes, I’ll admit, I’m a weird magnet.)
If you’ve ever read John Barth’s short story, “Lost in the Funhouse,” you’ll get the idea about mirrors with curved surfaces (rather than flat) that bend light and distort truth. Of course, Barth had another objective for his tale: metafiction, a story about a story. The scene is the Fourth of July during WWII. You’ll just have to read it for yourself…an unforgettable piece.
Some other mirrors with greater significance come to mind. In my WWII novel, Foxtrots and Foxholes, the mirrors of the RMS Queen Mary are tinted so as not to reveal the paleness of sick passengers. In William K.Howard’s 1937 film, Fire Over England, Queen Elizabeth I, covered the mirrors in denial of her aging appearance. Going back to biblical times, metal-lined basins mirrored the face of the priest as he performed a ceremonial cleansing prior to entering the temple.
Outward reflection by facing the truth in the mirror can be good. After a glimpse, we comb our hair, adjust our tie, or get that green spinach out of our teeth. Taking a good look at ourselves by inward reflection is even better. We brush off impure thoughts, adjust our negative attitude, and get that yellow fear out of our heart.
Yet, we forget so soon after walking away. That’s why I have lots of mirrors all over my house. Really!