#15 Reason for not Drinking: fulfillment of a Filipino fortune teller’s prophecy
When I was 18 years old I had the distinctive misery to work for Radio Shack, and one night I was scheduled to work at the one on Vanness Street in San Francisco instead of my usual location on Market Street. The only other person working that night was a diminutive Filipino woman. We got on great. There were no customers that I can remember. Why would there be? People don’t seek out cheap electronics from stores wedged between Homeless Cafe and Piss Alley. I wish I could remember my coworker’s name after all these years but I only worked with her this one night. Anyway, as you might expect when there’s no one to sell crappy transistors and maladaptive plugs to, my coworker read my palm.
I wish I had written down everything she told me, obviously, but I was a thoughtless 18 year old arrogantly believing that I’d be able to remember everything that ever happened to me for the rest of my life. I believed (apparently) that writers have magical memories. There were three things she told me that I never did forget and two of them have come true. First of all, she told me that I was going to marry an American man. Clearly the chances were in her favor on this one. I’m American. Meeting mostly American men. However, she did not know that it was my plan to marry a European or an Asian man (probably Chinese). The one kind of man I definitely wasn’t going to marry was an American. Because my sampling of them up to that point had not proved promising. Also, I had an enormous crush on an Italian man at that time. She assured me, as though realizing that this fortune was disappointing to me, she assured me that I would travel with my dumb American husband.
I did marry an American. A really good one who isn’t dumb at all! And we have traveled together.
The other thing she said is that in the middle of my life line there was a big mess of health issues. Right there in the middle – I was going to experience some big health problems. But, she said, I would come out of the health problems and live a long life afterwards. So. At 35 years old I broke my hip, gained 30 lbs from bed-rest and a steady flow of beer, then experienced crazy ass depression and anxiety and gained another 60 lbs from increased levels of Paxil, then (because it’s never enough to just be miserable, it must be compounded madly), I gained more weight from increasing beer and cheese intake even more. Foot problems ensued, recurring hip pain, frequent back problems from hips being out of alignment…see? She NAILED it.
My cool and funny (she was funny and very cool) coworker fortune teller got 2 out of 3 predictions right. I’m aware of the numbers, the statistics one can apply – how easy all of these things are to predict for just about anyone. But sometimes in life it’s a hell of a lot more fun to believe in the magic of the people you meet instead of trying to explain it away with statistics. After all, statistics, just like magic, can be based on faulty premises, dark and stormy nights, or an irritable bowel. I choose to believe the Filipino fortune teller.
I do not, however, believe that life ever just happens to us. I do not believe that life is preordained and all we have to do is float along and wait for prophesies to come true. If prophesies can be believed at all they must work because they are based on the character and the actions the individual whose life is being prophesied is most likely to take in any given situation. Which is, really, just statistics having fun on the see-saw in the kiddie’s park. A prophesy in which I experience a big breakdown in health and then come out of it isn’t likely to come true or be prophesied in the first place if I’m the kind of woman to luxuriate in a slow but deathly decline like Camille on her sorrowful tuberculosis couch.
I am no Camille. I mean, I’m a pretty delicate flower when it comes to the heat, but that Camille shit isn’t me. I have gotten up off the floor of my misery and ill-health to fight back exactly 1,789 times in the past 8 years. I never stay on the couch of pretty dissipation for very long. Tonight I’m not drinking alcohol because it’s the best way I know to make the Filipino fortune teller’s prophecy of returned health and vitality come true, because that’s the ending I want to this story.