Wandering around the Sports Arena area after feeding his gullet with a tasty plate of Pad Thai Saturday afternoon, the skeptic stepped warily into Alexandra's bookstore, an establishment dealing in all things metaphysical. On this day, Alexandra was hosting a psychic fair of sorts, and readings were being doled out for $20.
Armed with an open mind and a healthy curiosity-he had been the subject of informal Tarot readings before and considered the metaphysical realm a bit of a hoot-the skeptic asked for a numerology reading and was paired up with a woman, Inez, who had limited time. Soon she had to give a lecture in another room on what the Chinese New Year was all about. Nonetheless, Inez gave the skeptic a quick complimentary reading. She fired up a laptop and asked for his birth date and his name, the letters from which she assigned numerical values. It seemed incongruous to him that she would administer a metaphysical science apparently dating back to the 6th century B.C. using a computer.
It wasn't long before she was telling him that based on name, his "destiny" is a nine, his "personality" an eight and his "heart's desire" a one. She read aloud from the computer program exactly what all that meant, but none of it meant much to the skeptic (he is an "executive" type, Inez said, and that, he thought, couldn't be further from the truth-but what the hell does he know).
Inez then looked into the past and into the future, using the skeptic's birth date, and confusion soon reigned. For 2003, she assigned numbers to different months, with January getting a seven, February an eight and the numbers and months ascending in order together. He realized that everybody's year followed the same path-a month of "harmony and diplomacy," for example, always follows a month of "courage and individuality," and that concept just seemed nutty to the skeptic.
He attempted to confirm his conclusions with Inez, and what followed was a circular chain of conversation that reminded the skeptic of the scene from Spinal Tap where Christopher Guest's British metal guitarist character tried to convince Rob Reiner's documentary filmmaker character that Guest's amp went up to 11 and was therefore louder than other amps. The skeptic wasn't sure Inez ever got the drift of his question, and he dropped the matter soon after he broached it.
Moments later, Inez, who reacted to the skeptic in a way that told him she had never been questioned like that before, was called away to give her lecture. She was, he thought to himself, probably pleased to be rid of the skeptic. At his request, Alexandra herself then sat down with the skeptic and engaged him in conversation about metaphysics, and she offered a sample reading involving both Tarot and palmistry.
As he chose 20 Tarot cards, she asked him if he was in a relationship. He said "no," and she arranged the cards in two patterns. She held his left hand loosely and rubbed at it gently, presumably to get a better feel for his vibrations. She told him he was "going to be feeling in love this year, definitely in the fall, but it may come a little bit sooner than that." And in three to six months, he may be offered "something new having to do with money, and my feeling is it's going to be a great risk. It won't work out the way you'd like it to," she said. She encouraged him to "really examine it." She sees him being overwhelmed with burden, and the promise of money is not there.
"Is the work that you're doing boring but the money good?" she asked him.
"No," he responded.
"Oh, OK," she said. "I was picking up that there was some flatness there at work."
She said she sees some travel in his future, "where water is involved." That's odd, he thought-he doesn't take vacations.
"Are you up in the air about something at the present time, or indecisive?" she asked.
"No, actually, I don't think so," he said.
"Oh, OK," she said again. "I was picking up indecision."
Alexandra asked the skeptic if he worked for a male. He said yes. She asked if he's older. No, he said, then clarified that he had two male bosses, one older, one younger. She asked if he were trying to become "buddy buddy" with the younger one.
"My suggestion is not to become so involved with him emotionally," she said, "because I think that when push comes to shove, sometimes he uses it against people-that's what I pick up."
Hmmm, he thought, his boss seems like a decent guy. But perhaps he should keep and eye on him. Best be careful.
The skeptic recalled that Alexandra had asked him to think about questions or issues. What about those things? He told her he thought about professional stress, communication with others and his future. She said she feels that he can deal with stress just fine now, but later in the year, he's going to be much more sensitive. (Oh, won't that be great, he thought.) Then she looked at both his palms and told him he would always be comfortable with whatever amount of money he had. And he's going to start feeling better about the way he communicates.
"Is there a lack of people that nourish you emotionally?" she asked the skeptic, "because that's what I pick up."
People come in and out of his life, he said. He tends to moves around a lot. He told her that he has one close friend at the moment, a female, but much turmoil inhabits that relationship. What's up with that? he asked.
Alexandra clutched his hand, dangled a little porcelain pendulum, closed her eyes and appeared to concentrate. She said it felt to her like an "unhealthy" relationship, and she encouraged him to seek out only healthy relationships.
When the reading was done, the skeptic went home and called his friend to tell her about the reading. "Don't worry," he assured her, "I won't abandon you."
Moments later, a minor misunderstanding about nothing terribly important devolved into a huge fight, and he hung up the phone mad. Damn that psychic, thought the skeptic.