behind the magic 8-ball

I’m behind the eight ball here. Life has been busy, busy. Last evening, I consulted the Magic 8-Ball I keep on hand in the kitchen. (My motto: You never know when curiosity is going to seize you.) My question: Was I ever going to win a trip? The answer? IT IS CERTAIN. And I didn't cheat. That was the answer I got on the first shake. According to this Wikipedia entry, the Magic 8-Ball contains 20 standard answers: 10 versions of yes, 5 ambiguous, 5 no. So, it’s like tossing a coin. Heads up, I win. As for the Magic 8-Ball’s powers of prediction, I’m an agnostic.

Last week, I couldn’t fall asleep one night. I watched The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and then I watched Oprah. Whatever you think about Oprah, she’s a life force. She’s incredibly funny. And bless her for being the great proselytizer of reading and literature that she is. By coincidence, she and her friend Gayle were embarking on their cross-country trip. Yes, a trip. It was a hoot to watch these two women who’ve known each other for-like-ever get into the groove of a cross-country drive. It was also comical to see that Oprah could still drive a car after all these years of the limousine life. But she can. In the Proof That You Don’t Really Know Someone Until You’ve Traveled With Them Department, Oprah and Gayle discovered a serious incompatibility: Gayle likes to drive with the radio blaring. Oprah likes quiet. As in no music. I like to mix it up. “Reeling in the Years” by Steely Dan is one of my favorite driving tunes. I used to crank it up as I drove along the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, a lovely little thoroughfare that cuts across northern Fairfield County.

In another coincidence, the next day I discovered an Oprah sweeps. It closes on Friday the 13th. The prize: The works -- haircut, style and color (single process with one head of highlights!) manicure, pedicure, and facial – at Frederic Fekkai in Beverly Hills. $500 for shopping, too. And airfare and two nights in a hotel.

To enter, click HERE.

As for Magic 8-Balls and other means of predicting the future, here are some thoughts I recently shared with my MFA classmates:

Several weeks ago I was walking down the street thinking about all the reading and writing I needed to get done in time to post for that September packet deadline, and a woman said, "Reading? Reading?" And my first thought was, "How does this woman know what I'm thinking?" Seconds later I realized she was one of the neighborhood fortune tellers, and she was trying to entice me to come in for that kind of reading, the oracular reading, the ostensibly psychic psychic reading. And for a split second I thought this psychic might actually be psychic. Unlike the last psychic I'd seen. She'd predicted I'd marry a blonde. I married a brunette. I declined her offer and went merrily on my way, thinking about my own private reading. Several days later, I plunged into all of it, though more reading then writing this round.

P.S. Shortly after I posted the above I was walking down the street, limping actually, I've sprained my left foot, and who do I see but the fortuneteller. "Are you ready for your reading?" she asks. Ah, here we go again. A reading. I tell her she has a good memory for faces. She nods. I tell her definitely yes, but not today. She rattles off her rates. $25 for cards, $5 for single palm. It was raining and I was in a rush but I am definitely going to have a reading.

What I didn’t go on to say was that my best friend’s mother went to a fortune teller with her mother when she was in her teens. This was in Bucharest in the 1930s. The woman looked into the crystal ball and said she saw nothing. Several weeks later, my friend’s mother’s mother died after she’d been given a wrong dosage of medication. This story makes me much less agnostic about all this. On the other side of the coin, several years ago, the daughter of a different neighborhood fortune teller ran away. The mother was the woman who’d wrongly predicted I’d marry a blonde. Her daughter was underage. The family was understandably distraught. They plastered MISSING posters all over the neighborhood. The wiseass sidewalk crowd kept cracking, “How can she be a psychic if she doesn't know where her own daughter is.” It turned out the daughter had run away to Texas with an older man. The family, who lived above a shoe store, eventually moved. Of course, no one ever said psychics were perfect.