I’m proud of this one. There’s something about a self-fulfilling prophesy that gets me every time.
Maybe if she’d predicted that I’d marry a tall brunette instead of an athletic blonde I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my life looking for him when he was right under my nose the entire time.
My best friend Mary Ellen and I went to the carnival when we were thirteen, full of foolish teenage notions of love and adventure. Mary Ellen was a mouthy Italian girl from a large and boisterous family. I adored her and wished my own stoic family of Irish descent could have been more like hers. On a dare from Mary Ellen’s brother Gino, we stood in line at the fortune teller’s tent. For five dollars, she supposedly read your palm and some tarot cards. Mary Ellen’s big sister Lizzie had gone to see her the year before and had been told that she’d fall in love with a dark handsome man and sure enough she’d done just that.
I was too scared to go first but Mary Ellen boldly marched into her tent when it was our turn. She was in there for about ten minutes. I shifted from foot to foot and listened to the people in line behind me talk about the weather, the crowd at the carnival, how long the line was taking. Supposedly the weatherman had predicted rain for the rest of the week and this might be the only clear day, hence the huge turnout.
When Mary Ellen emerged, she was ashen-faced.
“What did she say?” I asked wide-eyed. I was even more terrified to go in than before.
“Go take your turn and I’ll tell you when you come back,” she said as she grabbed my arm, pulled me into the tent and pushed me into the chair opposite the fortune teller.
I had seen her before. Earlier that evening, she had been taking a smoke break back behind the elephant ears vendor. She had a deeply lined face, especially around her lips, probably from smoking so much. At least that’s what my mom always said about my aunt Eileen. All that pursing of the lips from puffing took its toll on a body.
“Are you scared?” she asked me after she’d pocketed the five dollars I gave her. She held out her hand and waited for me to extend my own.
“Nah, not at all,” I lied but she just laughed at me then flipped my hand over.
She drew her glued on black fingernail across my palm and said, “Hmmph.” That was all, just “hmmph”. I didn’t know if it was a good ‘hmmph’ or a bad ‘hmmph’. Then she had me make a fist and counted the creases on the side of my hand just below below my pinky. She said “mm, mm, mm,” but offered no explanation for her grunts or groans.
I was no longer scared by that point but was starting feel a bit ripped off. That is until she pulled out the tarot cards. She shuffled them once then displayed a few in front of me. Adjusting her reading glasses, she poured over each one, looking up at me periodically. Her eyes were two different colors, one blue and one brown and she wore a garish purple eye shadow on the lids with lots of black eyeliner.
“What? What do you see?” I finally had to ask. The cards depicted frightening images of demons and angels and other types of beasts.
“Very interesting,” she said then removed her reading glasses and narrowed her eyes at me. “You will search long for love but when you find it, it will be true and it will be lasting.”
“Who will it be? Is it someone I already know?” I asked. I now realize how foolish that question was. I was only thirteen after all. I hadn’t gone to college yet nor had I seen any of the world at that tender age.
“It is someone you have met but not someone you are close to now. He will be fair-haired and thin, a lot of fun and he will love you from afar for years.”
“Oh. Anything else?” I asked, feeling sort of cheated. I mean anyone could make that kind of stuff up and how would you ever be able to demand your money back if the prediction never came true?
“Yes, but it will cost more,” she said extending her hand.
I took that as my cue to politely decline and leave.
Mary Ellen drew me aside and quizzed me about my fortune. I shared it with her and she shared hers with me. She was told she’d meet her dreamboat before she even finished high school and she’d have five babies before she turned twenty-five. Mary Ellen had paid for the deluxe fortune, apparently. She wasn’t too keen on the idea of five babies because she’d had her fill of large families.
When I told her mine, she shrugged and said, “You should have paid her more money. That doesn’t give you much to go on.”
Gino met us at the exit and drove us home. He was sixteen and had his license. He looked very Italian with almost black hair and dark eyes and had a robust physique. If the fortune teller hadn’t predicted that the love of my life would be fair-haired, I might have put my hopes in Gino.
But here’s the funny part. Mary Ellen did get married while still in high school because her boyfriend got her pregnant. She went on to have four more babies before she was twenty-five. But she was happy so who was I to judge?
Me, I never had any kids and never married before today. I never found my fair-haired, thin man despite a lifetime of looking for him. But Gino and I fell in love and after much persuasion on his part, I finally agreed to marry him. He’d asked me every year after I turned forty. I’d waited long enough and it was time to let go of that foolish prediction I’d allowed to hogtie my life.
So, at the wise old age of sixty-three, I’m finally getting married. I can see Gino waiting for me at the end of the aisle. He looks handsome for a sixty-six year old man. His hair is snowy white now and he’s not so robust anymore, probably a bit on the gaunt side but age does that to some people. I guess that fortune teller had an accuracy factor of sixty-seven percent if you counted Lizzie, but maybe that’s a good track record for her kind. I don’t know and I don’t care any more because I no longer believe in that sort of thing. What I believe in is standing in front of me.