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Seeking Love's Fortune : It was curiosity really, but maybe a psychic would know. Had she married the rightman? After four readings, she knew she had the answer.


Our marriage enjoys the tranquillity of a peacetime truce.

Generally, we have agreed to friendly nation status. But border skirmishes do arise from time to time, followed by sanctions, otherwise known as the silent treatment. This lasts until one of us decides to wave the white flag and the peace treaty is again signed, honored and revered.

Joy and all that other Cinderella hullabaloo enters into our marriage only as a byproduct of respect and compromise. War metaphors and fairy tales notwithstanding, we have had the good fortune of happiness.

So why screw it up with crystal balls, hazy auras and Tarot cards? Because curiosity gotthe best of me. If I had done the right thing by getting married to this man, then a psychic was sure to know. But if, on the other hand, I had made a mistake, I felt it my responsibility to find out.

I searched through the Yellow Pages under "Psychic" but was referred to "Spiritual Consultants."

Of course! What was I thinking?

There were several to choose from: "European Master Clairvoyant," "Egyptian Psychic," "America's Native Psychic." One of the ads offered house calls. Another, inexplicably, pictured a Star of David superimposed over a menorah. Most showed crystal balls and beautiful women adorned in hoop earrings and scarves.

I chose a psychic who promised to answer all my love questions. She was in Beverly Hills, which seemed an appropriate place to start since this region of Planet Los Angeles has always subscribed to its own cosmic set of rules.

My psychic greeted me at the door of her tiny apartment with a portable phone stuck to her ear and gruffly motioned for me to sit down at the kitchen table. Then she left me there for several minutes while she whispered hotly into the phone in the adjacent room. Urgent matters concerning past lives, no doubt. When she returned, she sat down and instructed me to shuffle the deck of Tarot cards while I concentrated on my deepest desires and my most hidden fears.

Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, I thought.

In a town where no one goes five feet without a cellular phone and Hollywood deals are made over plates of pasta, I was surprised that there was to be no schmoozing with my psychic.

She plunged into the reading with nary a preamble, flipping cards with maddening haste while she predicted what fortunes would enter my life. She quickly dispensed with the standard predictions: I'll be rich, I'll sign an important document, I'll travel somewhere exotic.

But essentially, I was going to be meeting dozens of men: men from my past, men at weddings, older men with lots of money. Even a dead man who served as my spirit guide, although I would never really know his true identity. The only mention of a woman had to do with a red-haired friend who would betray me.

So much for sisterhood.

I didn't want to say anything to her, but this hardly resembled my life. Basically, I know four men: my husband, my dad and my two bothers. When I have free time, I spend it with my girlfriends. As for some wizened old dead guy as my protector, I have to confess that when I believe in it, I tend to lean toward angels as my guardians. When she had finished with the reading, the psychic told me to pick three cards and ask a question.

"What about my marriage?" I demanded.

"Oh," she said. She seemed surprised--hardly a response I would have expected from a psychic. "You're married?"

"Three years," I said.

Her response was emphatic, sudden, slightly embarrassed. "I see a separation," she said. Then she looked at her watch. "Anything else?"

I shook my head no.

"That'll be $35," she said and showed me to the door.

For a moment I stood outside in front of the glitzy storefronts of Beverly Hills, feeling much like Dorothy must have felt during those first few seconds in Oz. How did I get here?

My psychic couldn't have been further from the truth regarding my life, although I have to admit to enjoying that fleeting fantasy of all those future men. If anything, she was adept at fostering hope--for single women perhaps--but it didn't apply to me.

I decided to go for a second opinion.

As I drove aimlessly through the urban madness of the Fairfax District, I stumbled onto my second psychic. I was drawn to the mixed metaphors displayed proudly in her gallery window. A Sphinx, a Merlin doll, a crystal ball. From behind a curtain, which presumably led to her living quarters, I heard an "I Love Lucy" rerun blaring from a television set and the voices of small children.

My psychic greeted me cheerfully in the gallery while her two kids ran out into the street, tore down the Merlin doll, grabbed for my keys and began to cry hysterically. She apologized and took hold of my hands while a man came from behind the curtain and retrieved the little brats.

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