Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sunday Scribblings-Superstition

Frankly, I tend to scoff at superstition. I don't go out of my way to avoid walking under ladders, or clean up my house when my nose itches because I'm expecting company. When a black cat crosses my path, I'll slow down, but only to give it an opportunity to get out of the way. And yes, I do curse when I break a mirror, but only because it's just one more mess to clean up, and not because I'm fearful of seven years bad luck.

However, I do harbor one remote and secret fear, but is has more to do with premonition than with superstition.

When I was about 13 year old, my older cousin took me to "the fortune teller," an old blind man who lived in the remote foothills of Kentucky. I sat anxiously on the broken down Lazy Boy in the cluttered living room of his rusty double wide trailer until my cousin came out of the little back bedroom and motioned me to go in. "Your turn," he grinned.

The fortune teller was old, but harmless enough looking. In my memory, I still clearly see him hunched over the rickety card table, a shoebox of dominoes in front of him. According to my cousin, you were to give him your own birthdate, or the date of someone you loved, and he could get "visions" about that particular person by feeling through this seemingly omniscient set of dominoes. Of course, I gave him my own birthday, and he rummaged through the box, clattering the little wooden rectanges around while he told me something that was obviously very forgettable. Then, I gave him my mother's birthday, since she had been ill that summer and I was worried about her. His fingers began clicking rudimentarily through the box once again, but the motion suddely stopped and he slammed all the dominoes flat with his hand. "That's all," he said, staring sightlessly into the gloomy room.

I left the 50 cents my cousin had given me in the little jar on the table, and rushed from the room, my head spinning, my heart sick with fear. I was certain this ominous reaction meant my mother was going to die. My cousin, the typical 16 year old male, had no idea I was upset, and I never told him - or anyone for that matter - about the fortune tellers behavior.

Well, my mother didn't die that summer - as a matter of fact, she's still alive and quite well, thank goodness. I've thought about that strange moment with the fortune teller several times over the years, wondering if what he saw in my mother's aura was that horrible time yet to come, the time of my father's infidelity and desertion after 40 years of marriage. In a way, I hope that's what it was~steel magnolia that she is, she has survived that time, and gone on with her life quite nicely for the past 20 years.

But there is still a little part of me that quivers inside when I recall that grizzled old hand slamming down those black dominoes, and the flat emotionless way he said, "That's all."



Blogger Bongga Mom said...

Hey, that's eerie, especially when you're a young kid!

Blogger Star said...

That is kind of creepy. But it was a feel-good for me to read because it brought back the memory of the old black wooden dominoes we used to have when I was growing up. I remember there were dragons carved on the backs of them. My husband and I have dominoes, but they're made of something else now.

Glad you made it through the weather. We're beginning to thaw again and I hope you are too. :D

Blogger Tori said...

Great descriptive writing.
I felt like I was right there with you. Spooky!

Blogger Remiman said...

Gosh, we're so vulnerable and open to suggestion in our youth and those experiences stay with us forever. They are rooted in our core. Even with logic we can view them but the sting never diminishes.

Anonymous bella said...

Weird story, and I can see how it still scares you a little today. I'm not too fond of fortune tellers myself.

Blogger Deb R said...

Oh geeze, y'know, I think that's one of the worst things a fortune teller (of whatever type) can do is the kind of thing you describe because the imagination of the person on the other side of the reading is almost always worse than whatever the seer has seen or sensed. What's wrong with a nice generic "I sense a troubled time ahead" sort of thing?? Sheehs!

It makes a good story now though, FWIW.

Blogger deirdre said...

That must have been terribly frightening. My mother was sick through my teenage years and the thought that she might not live terrified me. I'm so glad your mom is doing well. Especially after a divorce, which is another kind of death.

Blogger jillypoet said...

Wow! That was such a powerful little story. I was right there with you as you described it. I noticed on your other blog that you are a fiction writer. That old fortune teller would make a great character!

Blogger Tammy said...

Wow Becca you described it so well I was creeped out. Glad you & mom are just fine :) XXOO

Anonymous hundred and one said...

Creepy. It's funny how things like this stay with us in the back of our minds - years and years later. I wonder what the fortune teller meant by those two words. Hmmm...

Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Glad you mom is none the worse for it. I do not like fortune tellers much.

Blogger sundaycynce said...

Great story, Becca, well told. I really loved deb r's suggestion that the old fortune teller could have been much kinder to give you something gently negative instead of scaring you to death when you were already apprehensive. Indeed, this kind of experience, esp. from childhood, does have staying power. That is additionally clear from your exact description of the place and the experience. I am a bit amazed that you had access to such a place and experience at such a tender age. I am sure I was in my late teens or early twenties before I even knew where a fortune teller could be found, and I have never visited one. Fascinating!

Blogger Kimberley McGill said...

Your experience made me shiver! Many people who claim to be fortune tellers take no responsibility for the way they affect someone's life. I'm not into fortune telling, though I do collect tarot decks. Many of them don beautiful art work and they can sometimes be a useful psychological tool. Kind of the way psychologist use those inkblot images. It's been a pleasure stopping by again.

Blogger paris parfait said...

That would have been a frightening experience, especially at a young age! Thank goodness your mom is fine. Fascinating story.

Blogger megan said...

Becca...thanks for writing this. You do a good job of bringing things to life (or to light) for your readers. The lazy-boy, the double-wide...details that created a memorable picture for me. Was there a dull, rusty orange color involved?

There's a lot more going on than the tangible and some sit closer to the curtain than others.

When time is short and I don't make time for a post, I usually read some...and when time is really short, I start with yours.


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