I’m relatively certain most psychic establishments are actually drug fronts. Like that one closest to my house down by the docks whose neon sign always flashes “Open,” but when I stop by after a 3-in-the-morning burrito run and knock on the door, a man with a frighteningly gruff voice tells me I’d better scurry on home if I know what’s good for me. My whole life, I was pretty sure there were no real Psychics, and by that I mean no people who actually earn their livelihood pretending to be psychic.
If Psychics were real, you’d expect they would be easy to find. They should anticipate exactly where you’ll be when you suddenly have the urge to hear your future told, and they should go to that spot years in advance and spray-paint their phone number on a nearby wall. And yet, like a coconut palm in a cold climate, Brian-the-roommate’s girlfriend’s multi-week search for a Psychic had borne no fruit.
That was all about to change…kind of.
One day, Brian, Rachel (the Brian’s girlfriend), and I found ourselves finishing a brunch that Sam-the-artist had failed to attend because he had to “do laundry,” a task so trivial and time-unsensitive that I was sure he either didn’t want to hang out with me or was trying to discreetly tell me he had a girl over. I’m leaning toward the former, because Sam has to “wash his hair,” “de-flea his cat,” and “look I just don’t want to hang out with you” way more than most people.
Anyway, we refused to be thwarted by Sam’s seemingly inexhaustible list of excuse-chores and told him to meet us at some Psychic we located through the very real magic of our iPhones. At first he said he needed to read up on the new clauses in local zoning regulations, but I reminded him he’d done that last week when I’d invited him to dinner, and, finally, he caved.
After some dangerous navigation by the directionally-challenged Brian, we pulled up to the Psychic’s house well in advance of Sam, who probably hoped that if he waited long enough, this endeavor would also bear no fruit and he wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. Wait. House?
Would a Psychic really operate out of a house? Confused, we took stock of our surroundings. The middle of a residential area. We weren’t about to knock on some random citizen’s door. What was this, the ’50s? The resident could be one incorrect door-knocking from totally losing it and destroying all hand-held technology in a luddite-infused rampage.
Then again, “Who were we to predict where a Psychic might live?” asked Rachel.
“If this is it, shouldn’t she know we’re out here and come to get us?” countered Brian. In the end, we decided to give her a call and see if we were in the right place.
Needless to say, we were nowhere near the Psychic.
In fact, she lived right next to Sam’s apartment!
Just then, Sam pulled up.
Frustrated at having been tricked out of his apartment in the first place, he was none too pleased to find that he’d just wasted his time. Luckily, my indomitable cheerfulness can usually cow people into conforming to my will, so within minutes, we were on route to the Psychic…for real.
It wasn’t the way I’d imagined. First, the windows were lined with security cameras (a drug front, perhaps?), and second, instead of the place being dark and mysterious with tapestries and crystal balls, it was bright white, completely clean, and scented, with Zen music wafting through the air. The actual Psychic was dressed in a woman’s suit and was much better groomed than I would have liked. Plus her teeth were all straight and she didn’t have an accent and she seemed pretty friendly. She didn’t seem the type to curse me with a horrible prophecy like I’d been hoping.
This would have been much more satisfying:
While Rachel got her psychic reading done (she repeatedly insisted on being alone so as to avoid any sort of cosmic interference with the mind rays), Sam, Brian, and I moseyed around the waiting area, looking at all the mystical objects that we could purchase. Along the walls were various chakras that could help with anything from intestinal blockage to a lack of sportsmanship. In the center of the room were five globes of oil, each with a different crystal inside, presumably so that the oils could absorb their various energies. Price tags were disguised as artsy placards so as not to ruin your suspension of disbelief.
After declaring Sam to be the Root Chakra, known for its inability to accept change, we decided to do a shared reading to save money. Who knew that Psychics were so expensive?! (Probably they did). After about 15 minutes, Rachel walked out with a demure, knowing look on her face.
Then it was our turn.
We enter the future-dispensing room, which contains a table and three chairs. It is not enough chairs. While debating the proper setup of the room and who will be forced to kneel, Sam dispenses off-hand remarks about the chair imbalance causing a disturbance in the reading, then flashes the Psychic a devious grin. The Psychic, being able to read not only thoughts, but also overt body language and speech, takes an immediate dislike to the curly haired artist.
When it comes time to decide who should have their future told, we ask the Psychic to do all three of us, but she refuses, just like most women have. Chagrined, we ask her to pick one instead: “You’re a psychic,” we say. “Shouldn’t you know which one of our futures will be the most entertaining?”
She tries to avoid the question, but we press her, and finally she says, “Ok. Well, definitely not him,” and points to Sam.
“Why not me?” demands Sam petulantly, reinforcing the same anti-Psychic attitude that got him excluded in the first place. Eventually she explains that it’s because I “have the third eye.” Anything that links me to Bran Stark is pretty cool in my book, so I’m excited.
To perform the reading, she deals out tarot cards in a circle, then points to one or two of them and says something about my impending riches. Sam quickly chimes in. “What about those other cards? What do those ones mean?”
But she’s onto Sam’s tricks and manages to slither out of the grip of his question every time. “Oh, those death-looking cards aren’t important,” she might say, or “they’re facing north, so they’re irrelevant.” She’s not so deft at avoiding Brian’s questions, however, which are tossed in purely to increase the amusement factor. Questions like: “Will Russ have a lot of enemies?”
“Oh yes! A great number of enemies!” the Psychic replies enthusiastically, as if this is exciting news. She then expounds on how people will hate me through all walks of life, and that I will have to crush them to get ahead.
“I’m going to get ahead by crushing people?” I ask, saddened.
“Oh yes! You’ll crush a great many people!”
“Even his friends?” asks Brian.
“His friends especially!” says the Psychic with inexplicable joy. We discern that this Psychic responds positively to every question ending with an upward inflection. After all, you’d only ask a Psychic about things that were weighing on your mind, so confirming your fears gives her a solid chance of being correct. I don’t think she’d ever considered that a bunch of young guys might simply be messing with her, so I’m getting the most inaccurate reading of all time.
“Your constant friend-crushing will lead you to untold success,” she chirps. “In fact, you should start a company. Citrine crystals are particularly good at helping you achieve success. We have some in the shop.” This is particularly amusing since Brian and Sam are both starting a company together, but not me.
Brian takes off with this whole shaping-my-future thing. “Will Russ have problems with gambling?”
“So many problems! He better watch out or he’ll lose all his money!”
“What about alcohol?” I add.
“Definitely alcohol. But he won’t have to worry about that for—” She sizes me up to be in my early twenties— “five or six years. And if you’re really concerned, Amethyst crystals help protect you from basic vices.”
“Where are you getting all this?” asks Sam. “Is this anywhere on the cards?”
“Err…yes. See, it’s here, here, and here.”
“You’re telling me his gambling problems are in the knight of wands? How does that make any sense?”
“Well you see, it’s pointing left, meaning it’s off-balance, and knights balanced on horses, and betting on horse racing is a form of gambling, and Russ has the third eye, so I can sense it in him.” She quickly deals another dozen cards down over the last set and changes the subject.
“Will I have problems with my love life?” I ask.
“Many problems! And many enemies! Your wife will have a great deal of baggage, probably children. She’ll be divorced, and you’ll have to deal with all her ex-boyfriends, and even an ex-girlfriend or two.”
“So I’m Scott Pilgrim? I can dig it.”
“Basically,” says the Psychic. Those last two sentences may have happened only in my head, but that’s pretty much the main thing I took away from my reading.
Sounds like a pretty good future. I’ll be completely friendless, but satisfied by my work as a leader in a company I founded. I will crush everyone I meet to get ahead, and my wife will come preloaded with drama, which I will have to crush.
This goes on until she makes it through the entire deck of Tarot cards, which, if you’re trying to allay suspicion that you’re just flipping through the deck and pointing out cards at random, is a bad way to go about doing a reading. Once she’s out of cards, apparently the reading is over. “While you’re here, I have various crystals for sale that could help you with your future. Remember how I pitched them many times during your reading? You should now give me money for them.” It might have been more subtle than that.
Sam saunters up to the table, a mischievous glimmer in his eye. “So I was wondering, are there any crystals that can be used for evil? To harness like, dark energy or something?”
“Well,” stammers the Psychic, caught off-guard by such a question. “I suppose there are crystals that could do what you ask.”
“Which crystals? Tell me.”
“Um. Obsidian. Black Quartz. A few others.”
“And I could perform evil with these.”
“Well, in a sense.”
“So, where can I find these crystals?”
“If…If you’re going to use them for evil,” she says, mustering courage, “I simply can’t sell them to you. I’m sorry.”
Brian, overcome by uncontrollable laughter, does his best to drag Sam away. The Psychic watches as we exit her shop, all too happy to see us go.
You may think it ends here, but I know better. Sam will not be stopped. Someday, he will find those crystals, and that day will be our last.
And remember, if any of you are divorced, bi-curious, and burdened by single motherhood, hit me up!
Oh, and here’s one last joke for all you psychics out there: