Hello, friends, let's raise a glass to Superstitions, a Spotify original from podcast, I'm Alistair Madden here to guide you through the quirky rituals that dictate our lives like that urge to pick a four leaf clover or the old relative who assures us that it's good to get pooped on by a bird. I know there are so many to track and so many to get wrong, but stick with me and my stories and you'll find out how to keep yourself safe and bring luck into your life.
Today's tale is a darker one, and I should warn you that it contains drug and alcohol abuse.
It's about the European belief that toasting with water instead of alcohol is bad luck. That sounds like a reason to down a drink and party hard.
But as we all learn, it's also a way to ward off.
There you can find episodes of superstitions and all of that Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify. Coming up, we join two old friends for a night out. This episode is brought to you by Fan Sportsbook, don't just watch college basketball, get in the action and shoot your shot with the fan to a sports book app. There's more ways to play the bracket all tournament long. New users get your first bat risk free up to 1000 dollars. Sign up with code upsets on the Fanjul Sportsbook app and make your first deposit today.
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Try dial pad for free for 14 days at dial pad dotcom. It's your cousin's wedding and you're so drunk, everyone else's, too, but if they're three sheets to the wind, you're a fabric store in a hurricane. If that didn't make sense, don't mind me, I've had a few shots at the open bar. Anyway, the bride's annoying friend, Susan, is giving a toast and it's time to raise your glass. But you can't stomach more wine, so you raise your water.
That's when your French great Aunt Maxine grips your arm and says, no, Moshiri never, ever does it. Chill's with water only wine or you will have Zabad lovemaking and also die. All right, thanks, Auntie Maxine really needed to hear you talk about sex, lovely little French tradition you've got there, but water will be just fine, but you have a multicultural family. And a moment later, your Italian cousin Dominico chimes in this toast. Superstition is a thing in Italy, too.
He says it was inherited from ancient Greeks. Italian. That's cool. But this isn't the old country. Then Uncle Carrine, the retired naval officer, swoops in to swap your water for a glass of port wine. Yuck. He insists it's official U.S. Navy policy that you can't toast with water only champagne or port wine. Why? I can still picture the part of the mess, not manual that says the object of a toast with water will die by drowning.
Do you want your poor cousin Layla to drown? All right. So you may be related to a bunch of paranoid alcoholics, but you don't want to wish death or bad sex on anyone. So you raise that glass of port and swallow it down. Oh, it's gross. You're not usually much of a drinker. Neither is the girl seated beside you, Misty. You think her name is. She ignores the rule and drinks water. Still, there's a hint of worry on her face and you wonder what her story is.
Misty tossed back a shot, a fireball, then chased it with a sip of PBR. She stood in her kitchen, tingling as fire and ice dueled their way down her throat. Misty knew she should have waited for Layla, but she loved pregaming the pregame. Plus, Misty wanted to make sure their college alter egos messy, misty and lit. Layla awoke to paint the town red for Layla's bachelorette night. Those party monsters reigned a decade ago and hadn't been seen since graduation.
But Misty still lived in Philadelphia, where they went to school, and this would be Layla's first time in their old stomping grounds in years. Layla deserved one last night of insanity before Ethan forced her to settle down. So Misty took another shot. Then she grabbed a straw, bent down over a mirrored tray on the counter and hoovered up another line of blow.
Misty glided into her living room. She scanned her second hand IKEA furniture and the outlandish art she'd painted but never sold. She asked herself, Is it too messy to keep her art teacher? Job didn't provide her with a life of luxury. It certainly wasn't Layla's style that Hamptons meets. Oh, hi, I'm a lawyer, but I went to Burning Man aesthetic. When she heard the buzzer. Misty's heart fluttered. She opened the door. There was Layla impeccably put together with a Louis Vuitton roller bag.
She hugged Misty, enveloping her in a cloud of j'adore by Dior. Misty squealed, Welcome to the madhouse.
Want a drink or six?
Layla laughed. Just water sparkling if you have it. Misty frowned and reminded Leyla that sober clubbing wasn't clubbing. Layla fiddled with her Burberry scarf. I know, but those North Star flights are hell and it's nine, which is usually my bedtime since Ethan and I go running at five a.m. so I want to hold off. Last time I stayed up late was at Susan Monk's wedding. Misty bristled. Susan hadn't invited her, probably because of Misty's incident with the groomsmen at Ben and Andy's wedding two years ago.
Fair enough. Misty pasted a smile on OK, water for grandma. Coming up, she breezed into the kitchen and pulled her ancient water filter from the fridge. She stifled a gag. There was stuff at the bottom of the picture, dirt or mold. Maybe this was embarrassing. Misty definitely drank water, but it was usually overpriced bottles that speakeasy after parties when she was sweating off in ecstasy high. She couldn't serve Layla. This Misty turned back.
How about a shot? We all know your first love before Ethan was Jose Cuervo. Laila hesitated, which was strange. Then she sighed. Let's just head out. If we're back early enough, we can do some yoga with Ethan tomorrow morning. Well, that was a horrifying thought. Misty walked back into the living room and tried not to look too unsettled. Layla looked up at her and said, Hey, Misty was terrified that Laila could suddenly read minds.
But Layla just got up, put an arm around her and smiled the here's my girl. I missed you. Misty put her hand out the window, fingers fluttering in the wind. Layla sat beside her two quiet texting her fiancee, that hot idiot, Ethan Misty leaned over her eyes, narrowing Layla's text. Just a sip of wine, babe. Orlock per doc. Leyla's saw Misty spying. She put her phone down and asked where they were headed.
Misty told her the plunge. Layla grimaced. The plunger. That's not a club. That's a trap house with happy hour specials. I didn't even like it in college. Misty laughed.
You love did. And it's the plunge now. Total rebranding. It's a rooftop thing. There's even a pool and mixologists all fancy just like you. Layla went back to texting. Misty rolled her eyes. She wasn't going to let Layla pull that splash of wine nonsense. She spent a month's pay on a VIP table and it would not go to waste. The only thing wasted would be her and her bestie. The plunger, now known as the plunge, was surprisingly classy.
That's what Layla said when they arrived at the rooftop and took in the shimmering neon lights, lush greenery, the deejay's vibe hillhouse, beats and the blue green pool. Laila meant classy as a compliment, but Misty was irked. Or maybe she was just too sober and her anxiety was spiking. Everyone looks so young. Layla, in her blazer and Birkin bag, looked like someone's mum. Misty, worried she did to a bouncer, led them to a plush velvet booth that overlooks the city skyline.
A bottle of kettle one sat in an ice bucket with two fancy glasses. Beside it, Misty held her vodka glass up. A toast to my very best friend and her very bright future with a very hot dummy who I hope knows how lucky he is. Laila smiled, teared up a little, then said, I'm not going to drink tonight. Misty had never seen Layla refuse a drink. Well, except for earlier. She gave her a probing look.
Laila mumbled, Hangover sucks nowadays and we're outside my intermittent fasting window. Get me water sparkling if they have it, Misty scoffed.
Now we're going hard tonight. A shot is a must for ceremony's sake. But if you're calorie counting, how about a different kind of happy? Misty opened her clutch to show Laila a baggie with two orange pills, incongruously bearing a car companies logo. Leyla's eyes widened Orange Tesla's oh Coachella 2014 Flashback. Misty. I can't, Misty whispered. You love this stuff. You got me into Marley at Coachella 2014. Layla gave her a strange glare. She looked nothing like Misty's old partner in crime, and every bit like the high powered lawyer she'd become when she asked Misty, it's not 2014.
Why do you need to be wasted to have fun? A voice inside Misty's head told her to scream something ugly, but she resisted. No fights tonight. She took Layla's hand. I just wanted to be like the old days, messy, misty and little. You know, I want my college buddy back. Lila patted Misty's hand maternally, and I'd like to find out if we can be friends without being bendir buddies. Now, get US waters.
Misty knew she should drop it, but she didn't like how lame Lailah made her feel. Laila was the lame one. Misty insisted you can't toast with water. It breaks drinking law, the social contract of partying.
Layla smirked. I practiced contract law and I remain unmoved. Next argument. Misty fumbled it. It it's bad luck. Very bad. Hang on, I'll prove it. Misty pulled up her phone and Googled Bad luck, toast water. Turns out that was the name of a SoundCloud wrapper. She scroll down.
OK, in the Navy, if you drink water during a toast, you drown in a watery grave.
Leyla smirked a you sound like my drunk Uncle Karim and B, I'm not in the Navy. Captain Morgan, are you really taking mystical advice from a listicle Misty scrawled more well in France? Oh, and Spain. If you toast with water or soda, you get seven years of bad sex. Laila smirked. The watery grave was spookier and Ethan's no slouch in the sack. Misty ignored that. Oh, here. A 2012 article about Kate Middleton drinking water instead of wine in Singapore.
Everyone was like, oh, no, okay, that's bad luck. And they all gossip that she was pregnant. Wouldn't want that, huh? Laila looked away, her jaw clenched. She looked anxious. Misty almost fell out of a chair. Wait, Layla, did Ethan knock you up? Laila heaved a sigh of relief like, how do you want to tell you yet? Because I'm not embarrassed and I want a kid, but it's a twist I didn't need before the wedding.
My parents are going to flip waters, please. Misty nodded and shuffled off in a daze to the bar inside, she knew a server would have probably come to the table, but she needed time alone. Misty looked around the bar line feeling nothing like the children around her. But she didn't really feel like Layla either or put together a mature. She just felt sad. Only one thing could fix that. She finally made it to the bar and got to Perrier's.
The hot tattooed bartender slid an orange straw in each bottle, but Misty searched near the lemon wedges until she found a pink straw. She swapped it in for one of the orange straws. Misty snuck off to a secluded corner. She reached into her clutch for an orange pill and plopped it into the Perrier. The one with the orange straw, orange with orange.
She grinned. Let the good times roll.
Misty walked back to the table and set the Perrier's down. Lailah looked up from her phone, small and vulnerable. Misty, you mad at me? Misty laughed. No, I think I'm mad at me. Now. Let's drink this sparkly, overpriced stuff and get real sober. Here's to you, Lila, and to many Lila. May she have her mom's looks and brains and her dad's abs.
They clinked their bottles and drank. Misty was happy that at least she wasn't toasting with straight up water. Maybe Lila could handle it, but Misty didn't need any more bad luck. She watched with a smile as Lailah pour sober, Lila sucked down her Perrier and three gulps and set her bottle down on the table.
It was only then that Misty realized the empty bottle Lila had just set on the table had an orange straw. Misty had toasted with plain old water. Coming up, Misty fights to fix her mistake.
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Sports Sportsbook fan dual dotcom four terms and restrictions. Gambling problem call one 800 gambler. Now back to the story. Well, now you're clinging to the porcelain throne in the wedding venue bathroom, all because you followed that don't toast with water, all the nausea has subsided, but you can't be too sure it won't come rushing back. You pass the time by looking up this belief on your phone. Something about the ancient Greek version of it is really intriguing.
Apparently, they believe that the dead in the underworld drank from the River Lethe or the river of forgetfulness to forget their past lives and be reincarnated. So toasting with water was only for honoring the dead. If you toasted someone living with water, you were essentially wishing death upon them or yourself. Scary stuff, but also kind of silly.
As another wave of nausea overtakes you, do you think you should have stuck with water like that girl Misty? Now, there was someone who seemed like she made good decisions. Of course, you wouldn't think that if you knew how terrible these life choices tended to be.
Misty sat at her expensive VIP table, more scared than she'd ever been, even more than when she drunkenly challenged a screamo band to a back alley fight. She just accidentally dosed her pregnant, soon to be married, college friends, Perrier with pure high grade MDMA. She hadn't told Layla. She just stared frozen in shock. A voice in her brain yelled, If Layla wasn't surprise pregnant, you'd be fine. And pounding vodka is not your fault. You just didn't want to toast with water.
BuzzFeed said it was bad luck, but Mrs. Pregaming partying had worn off. And for maybe the first time, she realized that she was an addict with an utterly ludicrous inner monologue. It had been about 20 minutes. Layla seemed OK. She was chatting about her fiancee Ethan's peloton and dissing his fitness obsession. But Misty couldn't enjoy it. She couldn't even chug the vodka on the table, which she really wanted to do. Layla was a fancy lawyer, and if Misty told her what she did, she'd likely sue her or kill her.
But that was an excuse. The real reason Misty didn't want to tell her was that she couldn't bear to be the disappointment Layla already thought she was. So she shut up and blurted bathroom. Laila said she'd come with her, but Misty told her to guard the table, Laila laughed from what Misty was pretty sure she mumbled something like evil GenZE table snatchers, but she couldn't be certain.
For all she knew, she'd said, I poisoned your baby by. But Laila wouldn't have laughed like that if she had. Unless, of course, the drugs were kicking in. Misty locked herself in a bathroom stall and ignored the giggling and jingling of keys in the stalls around her. She was so tempted to stick her head under the divider and ask a kind youth for a key bump so she could think faster. But instead, Misty whipped out her phone and Googled SDM, a fetus.
This was somehow also the name of a SoundCloud wrapper, but she scrolled past his hit tracks until she found some official looking medical studies. She prayed they'd say that MDMA was a trendy thing for expectant mothers to take in, say, Sweden, a daring, progressive breakthrough in easing nausea and discomfort. But all she got was may lead to baby having heart defects and or clubfoot. That inner voice whispered again, maybe Layla will blackout and tomorrow you can convince her that it was her idea to take the molly.
Misty physically recoiled at her own thought. Her mind was disgusting. No, there was only one thing left to do. Fess up and figure things out from there.
Misty strode through the club, pushing college aged idiots out of her way. She didn't stop until she made it back to the table. Of course, Layla was gone misty eyed, the vodka on the table, the voice in her head told her that just a sip would help. Misty wanted to ignore it, but her fingers reach for the bottle like they had a mind of their own. She almost picked it up when she heard Layla call her name from over by the rooftop pool.
Misty ran over. Layla sat at the pool's edge Louboutins off feet in the water. Misty crouched beside her. She couldn't make eye contact as the confession spilled out of her. Lila, don't freak out. But even though you wanted me to stay sober, I put a Tesla in my Perrier and it was yours and you took a whole one. You're going to roll for hours and get dehydrated. And I'm a horrible person and we need to get you to the hospital.
And if you don't already, please hate me.
Layla stared into the water for almost a minute. Then she looked up at Misty. Her eyes were jet black, pupils dilated as far as they would go.
Laila grinned. I love you, silly. Let's do shots. Laila leapt up and tried to run off barefoot. Misty grabbed her, nearly losing her grip on Lila's sweaty arm. She told her that she was too high to think straight. Laila shrugged. I know and I'm furious with you.
And I think you're awful and I'm so scared.
But there's also this pure, primal joy pulsing through my veins.
So can we please do shots and dance?
Misty almost slapped her. She hoped she'd never acted this wild, though she knew she had. She insisted that they talk to the bartender and get Laila somewhere safe to figure things out.
Laila rolled her eyes. I'll tell him you drugged me. He'll call the cops and I'll lawyer you into the ground because you're just a poor art teacher. But I like the bartender's tattoos so you could order him to make out with me. Misty reminded Leyla about Ethan. Layla brightened. Oh, I should totally break up with that idiot.
Do you want to text him and tell him that you hate him? And now I do too. Oh, do you want a drink and dance?
Leila tried to wriggle away, but Misty held on tight. She stared into Leyla's black pupils. This isn't you, Layla. Layla smile grew unnaturally wide. She hissed.
Hey, you wanted your friend back. I'm back. I'm leaving the last ten years behind. And if you're too worn out to start over with me, then go cry in your skivvy little apartment. That's when Misty slapped Layla, she hoped to knock some sense into her, but Layla just rubbed her cheek and shook her hand, flicking beads of sweat at Misty. Her eyes were heavy lidded as she whispered, There's my girl. Then she leaned in and tried to kiss Misty.
Misty stumbled back and fell into the pool. She surfaced, coughing up more water than she deliberately drank in years. She looked around. Laila was nowhere to be seen. The bartender swooped down to pull her from the water. He told her she had to go, but Misty pulled away and ran inside to the dance floor. She had to find Layla.
Misty was blinded by smoke and strobe lights. They'd never bothered her before. When she was her usual partying self, the strobes felt like lightning from heaven. Now, in the harsh glare of sobriety, the club looked like hell. The lights stung, bottles littered the floor, and even the youngest revelers looked worn out. Misty stumbled through the sticky, sweaty crowd. She thought she saw Layla, but it was a younger Lailah, the way she looked when they'd met freshman year.
The light flashed and she was gone. Misty turned and saw another Layla buttoned up in a blazer and rolling her expensive suitcase deeper into the crowd. Then she whipped around to glimpse an older Lailah in the distance, kissing the tattooed bartender while a baby cried in her arms. She slowed to a stop. The music faded away. Misty yelled out Layla's name, the word kaching in her raw, dry throat, but no one answered. The bartender walked up to her, a strange, bittersweet smile on his face.
He pointed to the bar. Misty walked to the dingy water dispenser at the end of the bar. Stood there barefoot. Her hand trembled as she twisted the knob to let water flow into a glass.
Misty looked into the dispenser.
Strange debris clouded the water, dirt or mold. Maybe just like her water filter at home. It hadn't been cleaned in a long time. Misty frowned, touched Layla's hand and gently told her, Don't drink that Layla turned around. She was drenched in sweat with hollow cheeks and cracked dry lips. Her voice was a horse death rattle. But I'm so thirsty. A crack on her lower lip burst open and bled. She filled another glass with that strange dirty water and handed it to Misty.
Misty looked into it. That debris swirled in the cup like fetid river water. Layla held up her glass. The voice inside told Misty to run, but she was too parched to care. So she raised her glass to. Layla smiled and they both spoke at the same time. James. Misty and Layla drank their water, Misty watched Layla take a deep gulp, she coughed and choked like she was drowning in eight ounces of water.
Layla gave one last exhausted smile and collapsed to the sticky, messy floor.
Misty fell to Layla's side, held her tight and close her eyes, she prayed for forgiveness and a chance to make things right.
Misty opened her eyes and found herself wading knee deep in an endless river under a misty purple sky. She was somewhere old, ancient, hallowed ground. She looked down at her body. She wore a white robe like the toga she wore for Kappa Sigma Greek week parties years ago. But this one felt authentic, and for some reason it remained bone dry. Even as it dragged through the water, Misty looked up. Sensing a presence, Layla stood in the river to a few paces away.
She waved at Misty, then turned to face a man on the shore. The man looked like the bartender, but he also looked nothing like him, too. He scooped up fresh, clear river water and poured it into Layla's mouth. She swallowed, then glanced back at Misty like she was a total stranger. It was unsettling, but Misty couldn't deny that Layla looked so peaceful. Now Layla shuffled off and disappeared into the mist. Then the familiar, unfamiliar man scooped up more water and nodded at Misty.
Your turn. Misty opened her mouth and drank the sweetest water she'd ever tasted.
The mist rolled in, and when it cleared, Misty stood in her kitchen again, a shot of fireball in one hand, a can of PBR in the other. She blinked, confused. It was like she'd zoned out. Her pregame ritual felt alien to her. She wanted to drink, but something warned her not to. A memory of a night she couldn't quite place. Well, maybe a voice in her head faint but insistent. Her phone buzzed with a text.
Misty set her drinks down. The text was from Layla, who was supposed to arrive that night. It read Flight canceled. Big crazy storm. Sorry, hope we can catch up at the wedding. Misty side part of her never expected Layla to show up anyway. She hadn't seen her in years and she wasn't sure why. But Layla's absence almost felt fair. Misty turned back to her drinks. Suddenly, they didn't look very appealing, so she poured them down the drain and settled in for a quiet night at home.
The wedding guests leave the venue, you sober up on a bench and wait for your Uber. That girl Misty saunters out swigging one water bottle and holding a second one. She sees your sorry state, tosses you the other bottle and sets. Misty doesn't look sad exactly, but you still want to cheer her up. You joke that you're not sure if she's brave or stupid for drinking water all night. What with the superstition in all, she rolls her eyes and tells you she doesn't believe in it.
Don't toast with water has nothing to do with death or bad luck. It's just peer pressure and excuse people use when they want to celebrate and bond with others.
A way to avoid being the sad sack lush who drinks alone. You laugh. It's just harmless fun. Misty shakes her head. She asks how you'd feel if you were a devout Muslim or a recovering alcoholic and someone told you you do your friends. If you didn't drink, you tell her she must be really fun at parties. She smiles and says she used to be.
You think and you say you get it now when you toast, it's not what's in your glass that matters, it's what's in your heart.
Misty stares for a moment, then she tells you to stop flirting with her before things get too weird.
Laila. Ethan, that's annoying. Susan Munk and the rest of the college crew stumble past you to board a bus for the after party. Your cousin Layla glances back briefly at Misty that Misty looks away. They leave and you ask Misty why she isn't joining them. Isn't she Layla's friend? Misty shrugs and says, we're not that close. Thanks again for listening to superstitions. You can find more episodes of superstitions and all of the Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify, we will be back next week with a new episode until next time.
Be wary of the things you cannot explain.
Superstitions is a Spotify original from podcast. It is executive produced by Max Cutler Sound, designed by Keri Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Connie Madden and Isabel Away. This episode of Superstitions was written by Amin Osman with writing assistants by Andrew Kealoha, fact checking by Onya Bailey and research by Brian Peteris. I'm Alistair Madden.