I recently learned that a friend of mine is a clairvoyant. A psychic clairvoyant to be precise.
I don’t yet understand the distinction, but I am certain that it’s better than just being a brunette clairvoyant or a tall clairvoyant. Although being any kind of clairvoyant, which I discovered to mean “clear vision,” is impressive to me in light of my recent astigmatism diagnosis.
I’m sure they come in all makes and models, but in my limited experience with mediums, they only look like Whoopi Goldberg. This friend of mine, however, looks nothing like Whoopi Goldberg. Or even Nicole Goldberg, who I knew in high school and who always had so much gossip on the rest of us that I sometimes wondered if she might be clairvoyant.
It was startling to me and disrupted my grasp of space-time to learn that my decidedly non-Whoopi-or-Nicole-Goldberg-looking friend is a clairvoyant. The experience is similar to that jarring scenario in which you find yourself walking beside someone you know well when they suddenly light up a cigarette and you had no idea they smoked. You want to play it cool, like maybe you also smoke and no one knows about it, but you can’t stop staring at the smoke billowing from their mouths and coughing in between pauses in the conversation.
The way I came to realize her post was what really stopped me short. It just came up casually in conversation among a group of women standing around the schoolyard. No one freaked out. Everyone behaved as though she’d said she was an accountant or a public safety officer. I only have to mention that I used to work for the company that created “Gossip Girl” and at least three women fall to the floor in an immediate seizure.
I once was at a cocktail party at which a man introduced himself as a professional puppeteer and in no time at all people were handing him throw pillows and salt shakers and asking him to make characters out of them.
I even temporarily shared an apartment with a stripper, a fact that I soon came to overlook given she knew the best places to get a burrito in the middle of the night.
The point is that while these occupations may seem unique, anyone can do them with a little work or some exotic oils. These people are not born with a gift.
In truth, I didn’t respond in grandiose fashion either. But that was because I was intensely preoccupied with the worry that she knew I wasn’t wearing underwear. Later in the week, after I had time to compose myself and to launder some undergarments, I approached her about it while picking up our kids at school. I broached the topic distractedly, in that casual way one might try to get the dermatologist at a party to eyeball an errant mole without having to book an appointment.
I waited for her to transmute before me into a Madame Slovinka, swirling her fingers atop her crystal ball. Instead she fished a business card out of the middle console of her car and pressed it into my hand.
At the moment our hands collided, I expected a jolt, an unfurling of images, at once familiar and new, to shudder through my mind’s eye. As I turned, it occurred to me that just because it hadn’t happened to me didn’t mean it hadn’t happened to her.
I called back over my shoulder, “I just might call you.”
Climbing into my own car, I wondered if she already knew that I would. And that I would make sure to wear underwear when I did.
Despite my piqued curiosity to know what she sees when she looks at me, I haven’t called her. I suppose I’m afraid of what I might learn from her. Never one to look away from a roadside crash or a naked celebrity picture gone viral, I’m concerned that I won’t be judicious in parsing what I would benefit from knowing and what should remain mysterious to me. I’m stricken with a wave of panic when the receptionist at the dentist asks me if I’d like to book the date for my next cleaning six months from now. I can only imagine my dread at the foreknowledge of cataclysmic life events years ahead in the future.
And, above all, I’m terrified that I’ll start doing braless pottery and listening to “Unchained Melody” in the dark.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog “I’m Gonna Kill Him.” Follow her misadventures at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.