When I was about 10, my cousin bought a Ouija Board. In my memory, this was somewhere around Halloween but considering there are 30 years between this story and my childhood, it might well have been Easter, (also involving candy, slight variation on the whole raising of the dead thing).
I remember being a little nervous when my cousin brought out the board. Who am I kidding, I was scared shitless. Here was this flat piece of plastic covered in numbers and letters and probably purchased at KMart for roughly all of 10 bucks that was apparently capable of conjuring souls and spirits and Rosemary’s baby. Not that I was sure who Rosemary was or what her baby looked like but I’ll give you the short version, I wasn’t sticking around to find out.
I guess you could say I’ve always been a bit of a superstitious person. Jumping out of a black cat’s path, knocking on wood, holding my breath while driving past the cemetery, getting admittedly lightheaded in the process. Sometimes I really have to check myself, like, is all of this normal or am I just three spits and a salt shake away from being carted off to the place they likely took Rosemary?
I hope her baby’s okay but, between you and me (and of course my therapist), I’d rather not think about it or anything really to do with the occult or supernatural or conjuring bloody Mary from the other side of the bathroom mirror circa seventh grade. (Ah, Catholic school … how you continue to haunt my nightmares!) Or the time (well into adulthood) another cousin was on such a realistically riveting episode of “Haunted Towns” that I became stubbornly convinced not only was this all very nonfictional but that our own house must be haunted because if there were ghosts in Gettysburg, um, what was to stop them from coming here?
And so when my younger daughter suggested we spend our mommy/daughter spend-money-so-I-know-you-love-me time browsing at a (somewhat local) Tarot shop, I couldn’t help but silently wish I had some holy water on tap, or maybe a bushel of garlic (maybe that’s more of a vampire thing, but you can’t be too safe in your wishes…)
Anyway, I’ve never been big on the whole Tarot scene. I don’t know if it’s a throwback to my brief encounter with the Ouija or the fact that every woo-ee shop I’ve ever had the pleasure to patronize always smells somewhat of sandalwood and saffron or some other thing I can never fully un-smell.
But there we were in the place where fortunes go to be told and patchouli goes to be purchased and where cards, apparently “call to you,” the woman said to my daughter.
“You’ll feel … you’ll get a sense for which cards … speak to you …”
“Can they speak to her for around $20?” I make a point of casually mentioning. “That’s kinda the outer limit of our budget here.”
But the card doesn’t fall far from the deck and like her mama, she’s unfortunately prone to that whole “buy now, pay never” thing, and predictably what started as “no more than $20” and maybe a trip to the coffee shop soon morphed into, “How many $20’s?” and “Can we get lunch?”
And suddenly she was ripping open that $26 deck before the foam had even settled on my latte and then, of course, there I was, sitting face-to-face with what might as well have been the Ouija all over again, and a request to “pick a card, any card” but “not that card,” she said, quickly shuffling “death” back into the deck because “you have enough problems, Mom.”
You don’t know the half of it, kid. But truthfully, I loved it, and for all of my complaining, for all of my bitching about witching, for all of my living in fear of that Rosemary chick, there was nowhere else I’d have rather been at that moment. I was all in, all swept up in this bonding over witchcraft with our lattes, cookies and …
“Did you buy patchouli?” I asked, fishing something pint-size and pungent out of the bag.
“You know it, woman.” She devoured the oatmeal raisin’ (the bar — in my life I’ve never seen such a massive) cookie in front of her. “Your energy is really high,” she said, looking at the cards again.
“Must be the latte.”
“No. This is really good, Mom.” Apparently, the 10 of Tentacles or whatever I had is on that most coveted list and also something to do with cups or bowls and suddenly I am feeling really positive, really up and like what could possibly go wrong on that perfect afternoon with my latte. “It’s really delicious,” I said, smiling up at the barista, who politely informed me my Visa had been declined.
“So I’m guessing a refill is probably not in the cards for me then?”