The dame came out of nowhere and threw herself down next to me; from the first instant I could smell the crazy coming off her. “I’m a psychic!” she told me. Yeah, it figures. I should be used to it by now, but I still don’t got a clue why they always pick me: the deranged, the drunks, the desperate; freaks, nerds and weirdoes; zealots, midgets, psychos, and crack-addled celebrities – I’m like a magnet to them. It’s getting so’s I can’t walk down the street without being accosted by some mook who needs to raise a quick five bucks to ransom his brother back from the Pope.
It was early in the evening, but I was already at a cheap bar, nursing a friendly whiskey or three and trying to make time with a girl. But the psychic, jewellery a’jangle and bleached hair flicking in my face would have none of that. “I just saw you and I knew I had to come and read you!” she said, apparently unaware that my increasingly hostile body language currently read like the non-verbal equivalent of A Suitable Boy. “Quick, show me your thumb. I need to see your thumb.” Oh yeah, this was going to be a good one.
Folks throughout history have put in a deal of work coming up with scientific explanations for psychic and paranormal phenomena: looking for ESP in brainwaves, charting the path of stars and phases of the moon, examining the photographic spectrum for traces of auras. Crap like that. But I never heard tell where a man’s future was laid out plain on his thumb for the world to see. My interest piqued and my glass nearly empty, I offered her a digit, although not the one I usually favour.
"Oh my god!" she said, as she stroked my thumb in a manner that usually would have required me to leave money on the nightstand. "See how your thumb is so stiff, so unbending. Your personality is just like that. You have a will of iron." Damn straight, honey, I thought. Except... I demonstrated how, contrary to her opinion, a couple hundred thousand years of evolution had afforded me the luxury of being able to bend the offending finger. But the clairvoyant brushed the matter aside. "Put your hand on my thigh," she instructed in a burst of prophetic enthusiasm. My girl snorted quietly into her gin cocktail, and arched an eyebrow in amused disgust; but I was unwilling to bring the gypsy's curse down on my head, and I complied.
"Now, this is your head line," the psychic explained as she tickled my palm, "and this is your heart line. And this is... Oh my god!" She swore, and warded of the evil eye with a tipsy gesture. "You have no life line!" Yeah? And what of it, sister? Reluctantly, I explained that I had a blog, and the light of understanding began to dawn behind her vacant eyes.
There followed an extended analysis of my personality and future, all of it based on the usual sweeping generalisations, and all of it wrong. Moreover, she failed to explain why lately I keep writing as though I'm a character in a poor Raymond Chandler rip-off. So enough of that. There's a strange phenomena I've observed, though: that 99% of the people I've met who genuinely believe themselves to be psychic - and there've been a lot more than I've really had the patience for - are aged between 35 and 60. I don't pretend to know what it is that drives them to believe in this sort of claptrap (and claptrap it is, to put it politely. A load of arse is what I'd say were I rather less polite. I am a rational man, and as such I’ll be the first to admit that there’re more things in heaven and earth and what-not; that said, I refuse to believe that the deep and terrible mysteries of time and the universe can be found precis'd in the contours of one's palm or by the elipses of chunks of space debris). A more cynical man (if such a being is possible) might think it was a mid-life cry for attention from those who feel they need to empower themselves in some way, or who can't afford a sports car or attract a teenage lover. There's nothing most other people find more fascinating than having their characters described to them, after all.
Which is why I advise all you amateur fakirs, psychics, clairvoyants and haruspices out there to take up blogging. It's a far more healthy way to air your self-obsession, and allows you to relate your pointless anecdotes and half-baked social commentary as though you were the narrator in a cheap noir flick. Which is a definite plus, toots.