Chinese Number Four

“I am Chinese-American, by which I mean, like, both my parents are directly from China and I speak Chinese to them sometimes. One thing that my parents taught me that I for some reason still think is true is that the number four is very unlucky. The number four in Chinese sounds like the word for death when you say it out loud. This is why a lot of Chinese people don’t like the number or want the number associated with them, because it is bad luck. Once my mother freaked out because my locker number at school was number 244, and she thought it was a bad omen and that I might get hurt at that locker. She made me change locker numbers.”

“Then when I was at college, and when I had to decide where to live for sophomore housing, I found a really nice, cheap apartment, but it was on the fourth floor. I decided that I did not want any bad luck, so I moved to a smaller apartment at the same price just so I could avoid the number four.”

Frances’s avoidance of the number four shows how her parents’ superstition wore off on her. Although she admits that the whole thing is silly, she still does not want to “jinx it,” as she would say. The similarity between how the word for ‘four’ and the word for ‘death’ sound is reason enough for her to change her moving plans.