There was this minor explosion, see, and from it blew this insignificant twig with three naturally blond leaves barely hanging from its top. Over a period of, say, 35 years, the twig was twisted, bent, rolled in sequins, dipped in bleach, thumb-tacked repeatedly on its backside, shoved awkwardly up several other backsides, bleached again, smothered in vodka, powdered, temporarily confirmed Methodist, told it was a “rather smart twig, but lacking focus” a few times and pissed on by tall editorial trees, all before being propped up here tonight next to a drink twice its size. And the twig was happy.

“I want to know my future,” the twig twigged into the atmospheric swirl of alcohol before it, apparently not happy enough. “Oh, and why only three leaves?”

There’s always something more to know than what already ruined you, and if this distressed twig knows anything, it’s usually better not to ask questions. That is, unless, the person you’re asking really knows.

Mythic print princess – she of the girl-juice that used to occupy this very page in a more appealing way – has recently vaulted herself from her Sentinel afterlife and into the spangled “what the fuck?” of tarot card readings and belly dancing lessons. Umm.

“So, I thought maybe you could tell me just what would become of me,” I telepath into her cellular crystal ball. “I figured if anybody had a clue, it would probably be you.”

“Uh,” she hesitates in a manner which I do not like. “Let’s just say you’ll land on your feet. I’ll see you at 7.”

Liz Langley is reading cards tonight for the indie-to-upscale drunks drowning their sorrows at the Peacock Room, and I figured that the sensual dulling-down of public inebriation might make this flirtation with the supernatural somehow more amusing. It’s not that I necessarily believe in the things people say while leaning over decks full of death images, nor am I really fond of stepping on my mother’s back-breaking crack while tripping over a black cat. In this setting, it will just be somebody in a funny outfit talking to me about me in a bar, which is pretty much what happens every night.

“Have you ever had a reading before?” Liz leans eerily over some candles that make the triangle of gems on her forehead twinkle with projections of certain death, or Barbara Eden.

“Yes,” I speak-sigh. “My first night in college I went to a big stoner party and smoked my first joint. I met this really great guy who talked about e.e. cummings, even sounding lowercase, and a girl there read my cards and told me everything was perfect. I got my ear pierced with an ice cube. The next day, my little e.e. jumped off the fifth floor of a parking garage and died. Everything was not great.”

“Oh,” she twinkles concern. “It seems like you have a lot of dramatic events in your life. Like that one time your girlfriend ruined your mattress with her period, and you went gay?”

Enough with the girl juice, unicorn. Liz whips out a stack of tattered black-backed cards (The Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene, she wants you to know), tells me to shuffle them, then hold them and stare at them like I’m thinking my questions into them. It should be easy, but all I’m doing is some kind of intellectual pantomime that looks like I actually think things at all. Like every night.

She spreads them out on the table and implores me to choose 10 of the spread cards, which I do, scientifically basing my choices on which ones appear to be most concealed and struggling to be seen. I have a death wish.

“Well, at least there’s no death card,” she smirks uncomfortably, flipping them over into their assigned positions that resemble a child’s crossword puzzle or one of those gifted test shape things.

Nope, just perpetual misery. A flurry of stammers follows, with Liz clearly trying to make the most out my miserable life, because that’s what girls are for. There’s the Chariot card, representing the God of War. (“All the battles you’ve had to go through; hopefully you’ll win the war,” she says, following it with something about “inevitable confrontation.” Great.) There’s the Hermit card, which she explains means that all my friends – 1,230 on MySpace, bitches! – sense that I’m pulling away, but maybe that’s what I have to do in order to make my miserable life mean something again.

“You seem like you’re mired in discontent and discord,” she chisels away, taking the whole algorithm in.

“Duh, I get paid to be!” I spit up a bitter pill, and counter that sometimes you have to pretend just to get out of bed. OK, all the time.

“Well, the discontent is going to continue, but the discord is like a cloud that will blow away.”

One card tells me that I’m afraid, Showgirls-via-Daedalus-style, that there’s always somebody younger and prettier coming down the stairs behind me. Another warns that I should let go of the old ways. (Bleach? Alcohol?) “There comes a point when you get tired of being your persona,” she sages.

Of greatest concern, though, is the card that proves that, while I may think I’m right in my relationship every time I whine about how much Alan doesn’t really give me what I need, the truth is he’s keeping down the bottom line, and I’m a whining bitch. Awesome.

“You have a creative project in you, and I think you know what it is.”

“Oh, yeah!” I don’t.

“You should probably focus on that in about six months,” she sets my time bomb. “I think it’s about managed integration, in a slow way, which is the way things get done.”

Or! The twig can drink and pretend the twig is happy. At least I’m not dead.


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