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Is love crystal clear?

September 23, 2004|Shana Ting Lipton | Special to The Times

Relationships can make me feel as if I'm in a French film. They drag on into the unknown with no plot whatsoever until some dramatic twist shocks me out of complacency. It's unsettling, because, like many, I long for hope, assurance and control in my love life. I want to know that it has a direction -- Act I, Act 2, Act 3, character arc, conflict and a dramatic finale complete with an over-the-top John Williams score.

Is this kind of storyboard certainty too much to ask for in a world where reality TV stars are coached and directed? If I could just get my hands on a map of the future I could navigate myself safely through the twists and turns of my paramours.

Well, there is always astrology.

In the city where the "Me Decade" never ended, this celestial study of the self and its destiny is simply another way for Angelenos to hear stories about their favorite person. Can't say that I'm much different.

So I looked through some of my old astrology books, but they seemed a bit general. The consensus was that Pisces have a foot fetish, Cancers will smother you to death and something like 93% of the bisexual population are Geminis. This kind of simplistic categorical information must have been the inspiration for the "What's your sign?" generation, I thought.

I headed to L.A.'s oldest New Age bookseller to dig deeper. At the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, the smell of patchouli and the Summer of Love forever permeate the air. Lost souls, doused in essential oils and toting knit caps, sip free herbal tea and wander around hoping to meet other tea-chugging lost souls.

Not that I'd expect to find a soul mate there -- while celestial pursuits are intriguing, it's not a lifestyle for me.

My lost soul meandered over to the astrology section. There, I recalled an ancient and supposedly far more precise discipline that a friend had once recommended: Vedic astrology. Practiced in India for thousands of years, this mathematical variety relies on exact birth time to predict events (to the day), relationship success, timing of marriage and compatibility.

In one book I found detailed predictions for several individuals, each with its own bizarre chapter heading: "Lost Wife Within 12 Months of Marriage," "Shot Down His Wife's Lover" and "Impotent Husband." These piqued my curiosity. So I sought professional help.

I set up a meeting with a Vedic astrologer. Over the phone she told me a cute story about one of her readings. She had encouraged a client to reconnect with an old boyfriend. Her client had hesitantly taken her advice, only to end up marrying the guy.

It was such a nice story.

I met the woman at the Coffee Table cafe in Silver Lake. A young, pretty California blond, she looked nothing like the exotic Indian sage I had expected. Like a true 21st century seer she arrived with laptop in tow and got to work fast looking at my chart and my mate's.

"Your husband will be much older than you," she said. Then she paused and took a deep breath. She said that I would likely get divorced and remarried in, gasp, 2017. At that point, with computer chips implanted in our brains, melting glaciers and the post-Armageddon cleanup, would we not have evolved past this quaint ritual of marriage? I was crestfallen but not entirely shocked.

She took a look at my mate's birth chart, seeing how the planets "interacted" with each other. "He's also got Hermit Yoga," she added. Apart from sounding like a relaxation technique practiced by Sean Penn after the Madonna drama, this "yoga" meant difficulty in marriage.

The choice was now laid out. Knowing the future, I could either follow the path to happiness -- leading away from my Hermit -- or do what my heart desired and let our story play out in real time.

Despite all my complaints of "amour anxiety," I ended up choosing real time. After all, even if someone spoils the ending for you, don't you still want to see the movie for yourself?

Contact Shana Ting Lipton at weekend@latimes.com.

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