I lived just outside of New Orleans for about four years, roughly between the ages of 8 and 12. During that time I was sort of surrounded by Voodoo Dolls and the strange powers they “posses.” As a kid, the idea a piece of fabric being used to harm me from a distance was terrifying, but now I find the idea to be about as lame as a dreamcatcher (even from childhood, this was an object I always had enough sense to see through). I don’t believe in tarot cards, crystal balls, or the magic of tea leaves, but I am astonished by the sheer multitude of people I meet that swear by it.
Last December, I was in the center seat on a flight to my parents’ place in Atlanta and I was talking to the man to my right. It was pretty standard polite airplane conversation: I mentioned that I perform stand up and that I was a visual effects professor and he in turn described his occupation and whatnot. The woman to my left suddenly woke up and began bizarrely glaring at us before joining our conversation, “You’re a comedian or something,” she exclaimed. I of course joked that she must be a psychic or something. That’s when the business cards came out. Evidently my seemingly clairvoyant neighbor was, as she told us, a very successful psychic who was looking to produce a TV show in LA. Apparently she had previously received many offers for her own show but none quite “felt right” so she turned them down (perhaps the chakras of the universe were misaligned or something).
It was a long flight and arguing about signs from ghosts seemed pointless, so I held my tongue as opposed to telling the psychic how I find her whole profession to be bullshit. Unfortunately, the man on my right had no qualms about calling her out. So for the rest of the flight the two of them argued while I was literally stuck in the middle of it. Worse things can happen, but honestly it wasn’t easy to emerge myself in the world of The Hunger Games whilst being the physical center of a debate on spirits and the afterlife (I know reading The Hunger Games may seem like an embarrassing confession to many, but, the way I see it, it’s way less embarrassing than being at a cocktail party explaining how you talk to the dead for a living). Anyways, the woman proceeded to tell the man that he was, shockingly, haunted by ghosts (surprisingly she told me, the silent observer, that I was free of ghosts and that good things were in my future). As I sat there trying to run through the woods with Katniss, all I could think about was how the “psychic” probably has a standard airplane routine in which she feigns sleep to overhear standard polite airplane conversation, like how I perform stand up, which she then uses to wow her fellow passengers. Or, perhaps, she just reads people well and thus was easily able to see that I am an incredibly funny person lacking ghostly possession.