YDR Insider

Part of the USA Today Network

Did a source just put a hex on me? Only at YDR.

There are some days on this job where you sit back and shake your head at what you’ve just heard.  Yesterday was one of them.

I was finishing up a round of candidate interviews for the upcoming election, and my last call was to the always candid Toni Smith. Smith, a 16-year veteran of York City Council, is a candidate for re-election.

The interview wasn’t particularly remarkable. We talked about city finances, emergency services and, of course, her upcoming foreclosure prevention workshop. But it was the end where it took a turn for the bizarre.

After telling Smith I’d see her that night at a forum, she playfully volunteered that I’d better watch my “poison pen” because she’s got the “molocchio.”


“The molocchio,” she repeated. “What do you call it? The red eye?”

Long pause.

“The evil eye?” I asked slowly. After probably hundreds of interviews with the native Italian councilwoman, I speak fluent Toni Smith, but this was not ringing a bell.

“Yes. The molocchio,” she said. “That’s the evil eye. I’m going to put it on your poison pen and then you can’t write what you want. You have to write what I want.”

I don’t even remember what I said after that. I was too busy trying to figure out how to spell “molocchio,” so I could punch it into Google after the call.

“I’m just kidding, sweetie,” Smith said, chuckling to herself before hanging up.

Did that seriously just happen, I wondered aloud to my colleagues. Did a source just put a hex on me?

A Google search confirmed it. I quickly hit on a website called KabbalahMadeEasy.com (seriously) that explained that the evil eye has Hebrew origins, but the Italians know it as “molocchio.” In some Italian villages there are women who can cure your evil eye affliction with an olive oil treatment. You can also wear a fish symbol to ward off the molocchio, according to the site.

Not about to let one of her reporters get hexed and miss a deadline, Day Metro Editor Amy Gulli jumped into action demonstrating the proper hand signal to combat the evil eye. I think it involved her putting her thumb between her fingers and hissing at me. Gulli’s seen a few too many movies.

So apparently I’m hexed. That’s new.

I haven’t lost control of my poison pen yet, but maybe the molocchio takes a little time to set in. Just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll pick up some olive oil on the way home.