It’s been happening my entire life. I’ll say something at the same time a friend says the same thing, then we both say: “Jinx, you owe me a Coke!” Then one of us says “Jinx, you owe me another Coke!” and that person wins. But then…the Jinx loser never buys me a Coke. It’s time for that bullshit to stop.
Obviously, this specific jinx is a regional thing. I grew up on the west coast, where we say “Coke.” If you grew up on the east coast, you say “Jinx, you owe me a soda.” If you grew up in the Midwest, you say “Jinx, you owe me a pop.” And if you grew up in Texas, you say “Jinx, you owe me a gun because the Second Amendment.”
Who first came up with the idea of cursing people and forcing them to pay you with carbonated beverages? No one really knows.
Some television historians say “Jinx, you owe me a Coke” first appeared in pop culture in a 1984 episode of Saturday Night Live. (During the sad years.) But they’re forgetting that one episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood when Daniel Striped Tiger said “Lady Aberline, I don’t mean to upset you, but you owe me a glass of milk.” And theater geeks remember the moment in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida when Priam tells Andromache “Curses, thou doth owest me an ale.”
We can go back even further. Back to AD 79, in fact. Archeologists used a plastic cast technique to recreate the final moments of Pompeiians before they were covered in volcanic fallout from Mount Vesuvius, and they theorize that at least one couple (pictured below) was arguing about who owed who a Coke in their final moments.
But no matter where you live, or how far back these curses go, it’s time to make people pay up. No more passive soda promises. You jinxed them first and that’s gotta count for something. If we don’t honor our Coke commitments, what kind of monsters are we?
So, if you’re reading this, Mom, you owe me thirty-four Cokes. Yes, I kept track. And a shout-out to everyone else I know: if my name pops up on your caller I.D., you’d better pick up, dammit. It’ll be a collect call. (A collect-my-Coke call, that is.)