Just My Luck.

People need to stop using “luck” to mean its exact opposite.

Yesterday I slammed my face into the corner of a chair after turning off my bedroom light and retiring to bed.

Before I went to sleep, I bent over to pick up a piece of clothing off the floor and instantly gave myself a black eye. People said I was “lucky” I didn’t damage my eye, or worse, lose it.

What the hell happened to our standards of luck?

If I nearly get struck by a truck but I’m spared by the skin of my teeth by a well-placed woodchuck, that doesn’t make me lucky. That makes me incredibly unlucky, but not unlucky enough to lose my life.

Similarly, the one person to survive being murdered in a horror movie is not “lucky.” They’re fortunate, but not that fortunate if they’re in a horror movie. The lucky people don’t appear in the film because they’re not in the film.

Luck is when incredibly good things happen to you, like winning the lottery, or spending your lottery earnings on sex and fabulous dwellings.

By the standards we ascribe “luck” today, the man who’s always on the precipice of being suddenly axed, immolated or crushed is the luckiest person in the world. That person isn’t suffering from an abundance of luck. They’re just fucked.

—Christopher Olson

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 18, published January 11, 2011.