Today, on Friday the 13th in the year 2013, Sam Schaphorst turns 13.
That alone might be coincidental, or even “pretty lucky,” as young Schaphorst says, but there are elements at play that demand attention.
Read on at your own risk.
The Schaphorsts live in a well-adorned home on a circle drive not far from Elkhorn Ridge Middle School, where Sam attends as a seventh grader. His favorite class is world history. His favorite sport is baseball. He has an older sister in college and an older brother in high school. On football game days, he roots for Iowa State, where his dad went to school.
It occurred to the Schaphorst family sometime last year that Sam would be turning 13 in 2013. They thought that was cool.
Only later did they realize his birthday fell on a Friday the 13th, perhaps the most superstition-laden day on the Western calendar.
Even cooler, they thought.
Then Sam's observant grandmother dropped a bomb: There are 13 letters in the name Sam Schaphorst.
It gets weirder from there.
On June 13, 1941, a Milwaukee kid named Tom Stouthamer (13 letters) turned 13 years old on Friday the 13th. The occasion landed his photo in the local newspaper.
Stouthamer grew up, married, had a family, including a daughter named Tracey. He died five years ago, but not before watching Tracey grow up, marry and have three children of her own.
The youngest: Sam Schaphorst.
What is the likelihood that a grandfather and grandson would both celebrate their thirteenth birthdays on Friday the 13th?
One in 45,000 says Steve From, a professor of mathematics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I won't bore you with the details of the calculation,” he said.
Start looking for it and the number 13 appears across various details of Sam Schaphorst's life, as though conjured.
His favorite baseball team is the Atlanta Braves (13 letters), a franchise that traces back to the Boston Red Caps (also 13 letters).
He likes Hershey's Bars and Reese's, both made by the Hershey Company, founded by Milton Hershey, who has 13 letters in his name and was born on (wait for it) Sept. 13.
To say Sam Schaphorst takes in stride such bakers-dozen oddities underestimates the casual calm of the average seventh grade American male.
He's just happy he can see PG-13 movies in the theater.
“Finally,” he said.
Tonight, he plans to have some friends over. He expects they'll watch the 2009 remake of “Friday the 13th” (13 letters), about a psycho named Jason Voorhees (13 letters).
There will be a cake, with 13 candles. Sam's older brother Drake will be there. His birthday is April Fool's Day.
But that's another story.