Sunday, October 23, 2011
I got a non-contact palm reading the other night and high-fived the hand of fate.
I had gone to Pret a Manger on Friday in hopes of getting some of their fabulous turkey chili.
The place is a block away from my office, but it took a while to get there because I walked out into the lobby of my building just as a group of demonstrators from Occupy Wall Street came marching down Broadway.
“We are the 99 percent!” they chanted. “We are the 99 percent!”
I was going to wait until they went by but then I realized that I’m the 99 percent, too, and thus should be out there walking with them, if only for half-a-block. I marched, but to be honest I’m not much of a chanter.
Pret wasn’t serving turkey chili, so I settled for soup and a sandwich and grabbed a table in the back of the room. There were a number of people around me who appeared to be part of OWS.
An older gentleman with a full gray beard stopped as he walked by my table and looked down at me.
“Is it that obvious?” I asked.
“I could tell by your hat,” he told me.
Actually the hat is a giveaway from WQXR, the classical radio station, but the call letters do suggest news media and the guy was right. I am indeed the press.
He told me he was an anthropologist and he was studying the people at OWS. We chatted briefly about the goings on down at Zuccotti Park and then my newfound companion made an odd request.
“Put up your hand.”
I obliged, raising my hand in the old western movie “How” position and waited to hear my fortune.
I don’t really believe you can tell anything from eyeballing the lines in someone’s palm, aside from seeing if they've washed their hands or not. But I’m fascinated by these ancient beliefs, and, well, you never know, right?
But it’s hard for me to discuss palm-reading without thinking about Bela the Gypsy from “The Wolf Man” who, upon seeing a pentagram in a customer’s hand-—that sign that says she's going to be his next victim when he turns into a wolf--promptly gags and boots her out of his tent.
Moments later Bela gets all canis lupus and has her for dinner. If only they had some turkey chili...
Fortunately my palm reader didn’t react in this manner and he skipped the prognostication in favor of some character studying.
“You tend to think too much,” he said, hitting the bull’s eye. “You need to trust your intuition.”
He asked me to turn my hand around, which surprised me because I didn’t know palm readers did the flip side, but I cranked my paw and showed him some knuckles.
“You’re very smart…”
Okay, stop right there. Naturally I love hearing this kind of thing, but I wonder if at any time in the lengthy history of palmistry if anyone ever looked down at a person’s hand and said, “dang, you are one stupid son-of-a-bitch!” Probably not.
My dinner guest, however, hit the target once again.
“…but you have a tendency to use your intelligence as a way of keeping away from people.”
“Well,” I said, “I’m here by myself on a Friday night…”
The timing here is interesting since, among the many books that we’ve come across in our parents’ house, is a tome called “Palmistry For All” by the single-named Cheiro. I don't know how long we've had it or who brought the book into our home, but I think it's a keeper.
Cheiro, a.k.a. William John Warner, was an Irish astrologer and occult figure of the early 20th century who took his nom de palm from the word “cheiromancy,” another term for palmistry.
He read the hands of such notable figures as Mark Twain, Sarah Bernhardt, Mata Hari, Oscar Wilde, Grover Cleveland, and Thomas Edison.
“Everyone knows that ‘the face can wear a mask,’” Cheiro writes in the preface to the American edition of his book, “that a person may be a good actor and put on a certain expression that may deceive even the best judgment. But hands cannot change as the result of a mere effort to please; the character they express is the real nature of the individual—the true character that has been formed by heredity or that has grown up with the person by long years of habit.”
The book is in one of the many boxes I have stacked around my apartment and I predict I will find it…some day.
So I didn’t get the turkey chili, but I got to walk in a demonstration, had a decent bowl of soup, got some good advice from a total stranger, and I wasn't attacked by a werewolf. Hands down, it was a pretty good evening.