Mind Games

Photo by Anne Fishbein

Before I moved to Los Angeles I had never met anyone who had been to a psychic. But now, after living here for more than a decade, I can say unequivocally that every smart woman and gay-male friend I currently have has been to at least a couple.

Love-related catastrophe inspires most of these psychic consultations. But the fact that most of my friends have no traditional religious beliefs may be the true core of this lunacy. We all desperately want to pretend that there is someone, somewhere, with access to magical answers more profound than the ones we can offer each other.

I am ashamed to admit that my own adventures into this Dumb Girl realm include a low point involving a henna-haired psychic who replied to the question “Do I have any jobs coming up?” with “I see something opening up for you in air-conditioning repair.” “Geez,” I remember saying, deeply disappointed by my new line of work, “I’m not really very mechanical.” “Well,” she replied, “I see where someone is going to take you on as an apprentice.”

Insane as it sounds, this was not the last time I consulted a psychic.

Which is why I was not particularly surprised when my good friend Claire, in the grip of romantic turmoil, called to report on yet another reading.

“She was amazing. Really detailed and specific,” Claire gushed. “For example, she told me, ‘You are with a man who loves you very much. He is a good man. But he is not the man for you.’” Claire, her feelings reinforced by the psychic’s words, went home and broke up with the guy.

“And she actually said to me, ‘Who is Dan?’” Claire gasped. Dan was her previous boyfriend.

“Then she said something really spooky. She said I am going on three trips. ‘I’m not worried about the first one,’ she said. ‘And I’m not worried about the third one. But the second one . . . don’t get on a plane after 8 at night.’

“You gotta go see her,” she told me. “I’m dying to hear what she tells you.”

So I stored my sanity in a Ziploc bag, where I hoped it would remain fresh, and I drove to the recesses of Topanga, bearing the $80 I was willing to burn to hear a stranger’s vision of my happy future.

It did not seem like a good sign that there were two 6-foot stuffed white teddy bears wearing crowns perched in the room where the reading was to occur. The psychic, a short-haired middle-aged woman with an unidentifiable Eastern European accent, told me to wait right outside on a couch by a gigantic scrapbook full of magazine photos of famous actresses. “Clients?” I wondered. “Or is she just the world’s oldest obsessive teenage fan?”

Once the reading began, I found myself facing a wall full of 8-by-10 glossies signed by many of these same extremely famous actresses.

The psychic shuffled the cards.

“I get D,” she said to me. “Who is Dan?”

“My friend Claire’s old boyfriend?” is what I did not say.

“Something with a D,” she continued when Dan didn’t ring any bells. “Don maybe? Or David?”

I had a David, so I let her continue.

“There is a man in your life who loves you very much,” she said to me, telling me not to interrupt when I tried to point out that there was no such man.

“He is a good man, but he is not really the man for you,” she said. He is an invisible man, I thought, perhaps from another dimension. Lucky for him or I might have to break up with him.

“You are going to take three trips,” she continued. “I’m not worried about the first one and I’m not worried about the third one. But on the second one . . . well, don’t fly after 8 o’clock at night.”

Aw shucks, I thought to myself as I drove off ruminating on the exhibition of classic American-girl questions and answers I had apparently witnessed, I guess this is concrete evidence that there are no real psychics.

But just to be on the safe side, if Claire invites me to go on a trip, I’m making sure it’s not the second one.

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