Saturday, March 21, 2015



I watched a TV show last night where a group of women who were longtime friends were arguing about going to see a psychic. Half of the women thought it would be good fun, while the other half didn’t want any part of it because they were certain psychics channeled some kind of voodoo power.

The show made me think of the times I’ve had psychic readings, mainly out of curiosity. The first was at Old Orchard Beach, back when I was about 20. The woman, a Madame Somebody, told me I would marry a fair-haired man named Robert who lived out of state.

My mouth fell open. At the time, I was dating a fair-haired man named Robert who was from the Boston area. When I later told him what the psychic had said, he laughed, probably because he thought I’d made up the whole thing just so I could bring up the topic of marriage.

As it turned out, I married a dark-haired guy named Joe, from my own city.

Then, back in 1999, I saw an advertisement on TV for a psychic hotline where people could get “authentic” psychic readings. And as an introductory offer, the first two minutes of the phone call would be free. Once again, curiosity got the better of me, so I dialed the 1-900 number.

“Welcome,” a female voice answered. “I’m Vicki, psychic number 714.  How can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m interested in the free psychic reading you advertised on TV,” I said.

“Fine,” she said. “Your first two minutes are free, then every minute thereafter will be $3.99, which will appear on your telephone bill.  Now tell me something about yourself – your hobbies, your interests.”

I was tempted to say, “If you’re really psychic, you already should know what my hobbies and interests are,” but I didn’t want to waste a single second of my two free minutes.  I quickly told her I enjoyed photography and writing.

Vicki said, “That’s good. Now, let me concentrate on my vision for you…”

She then went silent, as if waiting for my aura to come through the telephone line.  Actually, she was just killing time, but I was too clueless to realize it at that point.  Finally, she said, “You have to drink wine and take long walks in the woods.”

I wanted to tell her that if I drank wine, I wouldn’t be able to stand up, never mind take a walk anywhere, but I simply asked, “Why?”

“The walks will help stimulate your thought processes so you can write a great novel,” she explained. “And the wine…well, it’s not actually the wine you need, it’s something in it.  Let me concentrate on what it is.”

I checked my watch.  One minute and 20 seconds already had slipped by.

“It’s the berries!”  Vicki exclaimed. “You need the berries!”

“Why? Do you foresee constipation in my future?”

She laughed. “No.  Berries will make you clairvoyant.”

That was a new one to me.  I’d eaten bushels of berries (mainly inside blueberry muffins) in my life, and as far as I could tell, I didn’t have a clairvoyant bone in my body. 

“Do me a favor and close your eyes,” Vicki instructed.  Fool that I was, I obeyed, not realizing it was her “psychic” way of preventing me from looking at my watch.

“Now take a deep breath and picture yourself in the finest hotel in Jamaica,” she said. “You’re eating strawberries dipped in chocolate, there’s a warm breeze blowing through your window, champagne is chilling in a bucket on the table…”

My eyes flew open. “What on earth does any of this have to do with predicting my future?” I interrupted.

Vicki sighed impatiently. “I’m trying to put you in touch with your senses so you can write a great novel!  You must learn to touch, see, smell and hear everything as if you are doing so for the first time.  It’s obvious you haven’t yet suffered enough to write a bestseller.  Your ocean is too smooth.  Your waves have no foam – they’re not crashing against your shore.”

I was beginning to think Vicki was the one who’d been drinking the wine.

Before she continued to “metaphor” me to death or make me seasick, I decided to cut to the chase. “Just tell me, will I or won’t I ever write a bestseller?”

“Yes,” she answered, without hesitation. “You’ll write a thriller, and it will be published in the year 2004.”

“2004?” I repeated. “Heck, I could be dead by then!”

“No,” she said seriously. “You won’t be.”

I happened to glance at my watch and was shocked to see that nearly 20 minutes had passed.  Just as Vicki was about to deliver another piece of her infinite wisdom (probably about eating pineapples while lying in a hammock in Hawaii) I abruptly hung up.  The realization that I’d been hoodwinked into staying on the line 18 minutes longer than I’d intended (to the tune of nearly $72) made me think of the famous old saying, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Well, 2004 has long come and gone, and although I’ve written several books, the closest I’ve come to having a bestseller is a fair-to-good seller.

Maybe it’s time to drink some wine and go take a long walk in the woods.
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