I stand outside 2401 Walnut Street, looking up at the banner overhead with “Psychic Readings” lettered into the fabric. The neon sign plastered on the window tells me it’s open. I ring the bell, but it's only after two minutes or so that the door actually opens. When it does, I'm greeted by Mrs. Lena, who looks a little confused, but nonetheless welcomes me in.
Wordlessly, she points me to a wooden chair where, evidently, I am to stay as she takes my friend in. I sit down, flipping through the pages of the Vogue magazines that lie on a wooden stand next to me. Other than that, there isn’t much to do or look at. Well, there is the menu of prices: $10 for one palm, $20 for both, $45 for E.S.P (extrasensory perception, though what the actual service included was difficult to discern), $40 for a crystal ball reading, and $50 for a tarot card reading. My first thought was: why the hell would people pay $50 for someone to read a card about them? But then again, I’m here.
Maybe ten minutes later, my friend comes out, with a smile that must have pointed to the fact that the experience was a positive one. Mrs. Lena calls me in.
Through the glass doors, I walk in and am immediately stunned by the décor and the plethora of intricacies. Lined up on the counter by the wall are a number of stones (precious–looking), rocks that glitter purple, and figurines resembling Buddha. This time, she points me to another chair and I sit down, facing Mrs. Lena. Clad in a blue shirt, she asks me for my name and then tells me to lay my right palm in front of me. The table beside our chairs has another, much larger figurine of Buddha with a crystal ball in front, encircled by some cards that I can only guess must be the $50 tarot cards.
With my right palm facing upwards on my leg, she takes a quick look—no contact at all—and asks me to think of two wishes, one that I am to tell her and another I am to keep to myself. I have never been the type to believe in mystics or psychics; they held as much credibility as astrology, which told me every month that I would make a lot of money this month and find the love of my life on the 17th (still waiting for this to happen). So I give her the vaguest answer: “I wish I knew what my future was.”
Almost immediately, Mrs. Lena tells me that I am going to have three children one day. It seems implausible—I wouldn't exactly consider myself the biggest fan of children—so up to this point I am still skeptical. But then she launches into a detailed description of how my past relationship started, how it happened, and how it ended, among a number of other experiences and emotional states during those experiences. Entering the room, the thought of the relationship had not even crossed my mind, let alone come out as a question or nonverbal cue, but she was spot–on for everything.
My perception of palm reading had always been that it was a sham. Somebody would look at my palm closely and tell me what my life line or love line says about me. But that is not what happened. Mrs. Lena, sitting maybe two feet away, had only looked at my palm throughout our conversation and told me exactly what had happened in my life and what that meant for me.
At the end, not too surprisingly, she concludes the session by offering a more extensive reading with the tarot reading. I decline, but still, there is only one thing running through my head: What the actual fuck? Maybe she was picking up on my verbal or physical cues throughout our conversation; but even so, palm reading is certainly not something anything or anyone can do. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see if I ever abandon my dislike of children.