Charmed, I'm sure

On Saturday, Jim and I had to go to Walmart, one of my least favorite places in the world. I can't stand the bungled mess of a parking lot or the even more-bungled aisles. And the carts scare me: All the disinfectant wipes in the world can't get rid of the copious amounts of germs on them, and I'm finding as I get older, copious amounts of germs creep me out.

But Walmart is closer to my house than Target, and the place does have some pretty good deals. Still, it was a shopping excursion I wasn't looking forward to.

As we walked the 2.3 miles from where we had to park, I saw a penny (heads up!) and picked it up. Then Jim found one within a foot of that. He picked his up, too (even though it was heads down). With two good luck pennies in our pockets, I figured it would be a successful and survivable trip into hell.

It wasn't. Which isn't surprising, as I think it'll take a whole lot more than good luck charms to make Walmart a place I enjoy visiting.

But those unhelpful pennies reminded me of something I hadn't thought about in years: rabbit's feet, the go-to good-luck producers of the past.

Decades ago, rabbit foot keychains were everywhere. It was quite common to see a pink, green, purple or yellow foot dangling from a gal's purse or a guy's blue jeans, announcing to the world what a lucky chap or chapette they were -- or hoped to be.

I never had a rabbit's foot when I was a kid, but many of my friends did. I was partial to the non-Technicolor ones, the rabbit's feet that looked like the real thing. They were the creme de la creme of good luck charms, in my opinion, and my friend who was special enough to have one often let me hold her precious white rabbit's foot. I'd stroke the soft fur, hold it up to my cheek, feel around the tip of the foot for that little bunny toenail I knew was there.

I coveted that keychain and wished I were the kind of kid who could steal from a friend with a clear conscience. But I figured that even if I did manage to pocket the paw with no problems, the luck associated with the charm would disappear if I acquired it under less than scrupulous circumstances.

Now that I'm older and could afford a rabbit's foot if I really really wanted one, I no longer want one ... and haven't for about 35 years. They're actually kind of a gross little trinket to give a kid. I imagine many a bunny limped around with only one paw or, worse yet, had their tootsies removed just before being skinned and thrown into the pot for some hillbilly's wabbit stew.

So is that why rabbit's feet are no longer popular? Did PETA step in and educate the country on the true horrors associated with them?

And what has replaced them? Do kids even believe in good luck charms anymore? Is there a new version of the rabbit's foot, maybe a kinder, gentler charm?

I'm pretty sure kids aren't picking up pennies they find on the ground, happily picking it up and grinning at their good fortune as they stick it in their pocket, because even a kid -- maybe especially a kid -- knows that a penny doesn't get you very far nowadays.

Not even at Walmart.

Today's question:

What personal item do you have that you consider a good luck charm?