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FAINT GLOW

Hands That Are Not Mine

The late Hunter S. Thompson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Well, I guess he knew what he was talking about because that's what I've gone and done.

I've accepted money for reading palms. Four palms, as a matter of fact--two people, both hands. Friends of mine, yes, Carol and Dee. Two nights ago, in Carol's house. It was her idea for me to do it and Dee's idea to pay me, and God help me, I said "Okay". They even fed me, pizza from Reginelli's and salad and wine, and I violated my own long-time policy and said You Got It!

Palmistry has been an interest of mine since I was fifteen, and I've become fairly good at it. I can't say I "believe" in it, but it works. Sorta like acupuncture. I used to date a veterinarian who performed acupuncture on animals, and he was pretty sure the successes weren't due to any positive thinking on the part of Skipper, Mittens or Mr. Snuggly. But it worked. It just worked. "Can't tell you how," he'd shake his head, explaining that it went against everything he'd been taught about Western medicine in vet school. But then, he couldn't tell me how a television set worked either but that didn't stop either of us from watching Saturday Night Live.

It's been my longtime rule to never accept payment for reading palms, and I've always said it's because I don't want to corrupt my reading by anticipating what a client wants to hear just so I can earn a few dollars, but the real reason is that nobody's ever offered me any. In my twenties, in New York City, I received invitations to parties I might've otherwise been unasked to attend, I had chances to enjoy alcoholic refreshments and Thai sticks, I got to meet a lot of interesting theatre-types and was made to feel interesting myself, but I didn't get money. I once read for a Brazilian girl who didn't even speak English and her boyfriend had to sit so close to me I could smell the garlicky pasta he'd had for lunch and he interpreted for us, and her black eyes grew big and round (maybe that was the grass she had smoked, not my psychic talent), but nobody ever said "Thanks, how much do we owe you?"

I've known Carol long enough to expect to see certain qualities in her hand, her bravery and sense of humor, the loss she's suffered, her love for her kids. But trying to find these things among her Line of Life, her Mount of the Moon, all the stars at the base of her Apollo finger, blinds me to what I might not already know. And that's what she's paying me FOR, the hard stuff, the revelations and not just an easy snow job. I don't know if she's gotten her money's worth out of me or not.

Dee is easier, someone I haven't known long or well, and she's tempted to verbally tell me when I'm on the right path and I have to gently warn her not to give me feedback. Same reason. When acupuncture becomes a con, it loses all legitimacy. Take the challenge out of palmistry, it's not worth doing. Not even for me.

Afterwards, we chow down on pizza, slosh wine into our glasses, and trade anecdotes about our respective brushes with psychic phenomena. I sometimes wonder if there's not some kind of biological clock in women set to go off at a certain age, throwing us open--even the most hardheaded and skeptical among us--to weird stuff. Because don't we WANT the weird stuff, the reassurance that existence has meaning, the longer we live and the more we lose? Maybe it happens to men too, only they don't talk about it, they don't outwardly seek it. Enough deaths, enough emotional losses, people need to believe that it's not just random and it all means SOMETHING...?

Grasping at straws. Well, palmistry is one.

We laugh, we enjoy the time together like Girl Scouts telling ghost stories over a campfire. Our football Saints are destined to lose their playoff game tomorrow night but that's not the kind of revelation or meaning that we seek. And I don't foresee it anyway. I'm not much of a clairvoyant, my two friends here have to be disappointed in my readings but are too classy to show it. Hell, I'm no psychic, simply a straw momentarily grasped. But it's been fun. Girl fun, weird fun, secrets and silly confessions, three giggly tweens revisiting our Twilight Zones.

I try to give them back their cash but they won't take it.
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