(I've decided to take a little break from this blog. In my absence, my good friend Marty Volare has agreed to recount for you one of his many romantic misadventures. See if you can read it without choking up. In fact, choke up enough, and Marty might just respond to your comments--KJ)
My name is Martin Dangerfield Volare, and the story I'm about to tell is one of love found and love lost, of love born and love died, of love opened and love closed, of love created and love destroyed, of love bloomed and love withered, of love premiered and love canceled, of love invented and love made obsolete, and of love brand-new right out of the box and love left out on the curb to be taken away with the rest of the trash. It is an old story, as old as the sun and the moon and the sea and the ground and the redwoods and the bones of dinosaurs, but also a story of continual renewal, as new as a baby's laugh, a puppy's bark, a kitten's meow, a chick's chirp, and a lamb's baa. For this tale I tell is not meant to depress but inspire, that though love may burn to a crisp like a marshmallow left too long over a fire at a Labor Day picnic on that last sweet, sultry night of summer, its' smoke will nonetheless rise gently above the Metropark and the trees and the birds and up, up toward the clouds and the heavens and the stars and the galaxies and the extraterrestrials beyond.
Her name was Sonya, and she worked as a barmaid at the Looking-Glass Cafe, where I sometimes go to escape and evade and avoid and elude the desperation and desolation of my lonely existence. Ah, how shall I describe Sonya? She was as lovely as the dawn, as beautiful as the dusk, and as sweet as a mango. And she had a nice smile. I was smitten.
Alas, difficulties loomed! For starters, she slept with this one guy. However, she told me he meant nothing to her and would probably break up with him soon as she got the air conditioning, driver's side power window, and CD player fixed on her Buick Enclave and so wouldn't have to borrow his Mustang all the time. That filled me with hope. She then revealed that she had a two-year old daughter. I asked if the guy she slept with was the father. She said she didn't think so. I was naturally relieved to hear that. Still, if me and Sonya were to get married, it would mean I would have to raise the daughter as my own. Would I be up to the challenges of parenthood? I needed to know the answer.
I found the answer, or thought I had found the answer, or hoped with the hope that gives all sentient beings sustenance that I had found the answer when I saw this flier shoved between one of my windshield wipers while leaving the laundromat. It read as follows:
Forecaster of Fate, Prophetess of the Paranormal, Seer of the Supernatural, Assessor of the Astral Plane
will predict your future for
Hurry! Limited time offer.
I know it now seems a bit desperate of me to go to a fortune teller to help solve a romantic dilemma, but at the time desperate blood pumped into and out of my desperate heart. I made up my mind to the see the seer.
Her simple clapboard house was located next to a payday lender in a part of town noted for its potholes, pawn shops, foreclosed property, and abandoned cars. I actually found it rather heartening that Madame Imelda should live in such a neighborhood. I like my psychics on the humble side. However, I may have overestimated her humility, for when I walked into her simple clapboard home I was greeted by a giant middle-aged lady dressed in gypsy garb and speaking in a foreign accent, mostly Hungarian, but with what sounded like a little Spanish and Scandinavian thrown in. I took her for a worldly woman.
"I am Madame Imelda" she intoned. "Mistress of Mysticism, Empress of Enchantment, and Diva of Divination! I know past, present, and future! I have access to those worlds beyond normal sight, sound, smell, touch, and thought! I speak with the spirits, hobnob with the hobgoblins, and play host to the ghosts! Now, what can I do for you?"
Awed, I lowered my head, pulled the flier out of my pocket, and handed it to her. She nodded, and led from the foyer into a room full of lit candles, burning incense, and lave lamps. Hanging on one wall was a black velvet painting of a wizard seated on a unicorn, his magic wand doubling as a riding crop. In the middle of the room was a small table with a crystal ball. I sat on one side, Madame Imelda on the other. She held out her hand, and I gave her the ten dollars. She turned away and beckoned,
"Daughter, Daughter, bring me my purse!"
From another room emerged a girl of about nine or ten wearing a Miley Cyrus T-shirt and carrying an oversized purse. Madame Imelda deposited my ten dollars into the purse and the tyke left. Madame Imelda then got down to the business of forecasting the future.
"You shall experience great happiness and great sadness!" she intoned as she peered into the crystal ball. "You shall climb great peaks and descend into deep valleys. You shall laugh and you shall cry. You shall know joy and you shall know heartbreak. That is your destiny. Now leave and tell all your friends about me. I'm here seven days a week, half a day on holidays. I accept credit cards."
Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed at this rather vague prediction. I began to wonder if Madame Imelda was on the level.
"Couldn't you be more specific?" I asked. "I wanted to know about my soon-to-be-girlfriend-soon-to-be-fiancee-soon-to-be-wife."
"Oh, it's specificity you seek? That will be $350. Daughter, daughter, bring me my purse!"
"Prophecy is not some low-hanging fruit that can be plucked from a tree. You have to go to the farmer's market and pay a little extra for it."
My anger rising, I blurted out, "A farmers market wouldn't try to cheat me like you are!"
The big woman stood up and yelled, "You dare impugn the integrity of Madame Imelda, Chief Executive of the Extrasensory?! Take leave of my prescient presence at once, you worm!"
Faced with such a torrent of sincerity, I had no choice but to apologize, yet so great was my shame, I couldn't even open my mouth. I turned and reluctantly headed toward the door.
I turned away from the door!
"Madame Imelda is nothing if not fair. Knowing the past, present, and future does that to a person. Ask me a question about this lady friend of yours, and if I get it right, you pay for a full reading."
That sounded reasonable, but what could I ask? Sonya's last name? No, it had to be something I already knew the answer to, just in case Madame Imelda answered falsely. It was Sonya's baby daughter that brought me here in the first place. I could ask something along those lines. The daughter's name, maybe? No, I didn't know that either. Wait, I could just ask the psychic if she even knew Sonya had a baby daughter.
"Tell me, Madame Imelda, who is the most important female in my future girlfriend/fiancee/wife's life?"
Madame Imelda sat down and peered into the crystal ball. In less than a second, she intoned, "Her mother is the most important person in her life!"
"Wrong. Not her mother."
"Not her mother? I'd like to think I'm the most important female in my daughter's life!"
"I said it's not her mother!" I could feel my anger almost returning.
My anger had now most assuredly returned. "Her daughter! Her baby daughter is the most important female in her life!"
"Oh, her baby daughter! You didn't tell me she had a baby daughter."
"You were already supposed to know that!"
Madame Imelda looked back into the crystal ball. "Ah, I see my mistake now. I was looking at the ball's northern hemisphere, when I really should have been looking at its' south. There's the baby, in plain sight. Daughter, daughter, bring me my purse!"
I left in disgust.
Driving home, I was at first despondent, but it didn't last long. Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned here. I had wanted easy assurance from a fortune teller that I wasn't making a mistake, but there are no shortcuts in romance. Love is a matter of faith. This thought put me in a good mood. The Madame Imeldas of the world weren't going to keep me from my soul mate. By the time I arrived at the Looking-Glass Cafe, I was so filled with joyful ardor I skipped right in the place. A couple guys at a pool table laughed at me, but what did I care? I was a paramour in paradise!
"Hiya, Marty," said Sonya from behind the bar. "You look like you're in a good mood."
"I am. I just exposed a fortune teller as a fake."
"Oh, yeah? What'd ya do that for?"
"I asked her a question about you, and she didn't know the answer."
"Oh, yeah? What'd ya ask?"
Smiling, I said, "Who is the most important female in your life?"
"Oh, that'd be my best friend Amy. She let me sleep on her couch this one time when I--"
Panicked, I said, "No, not your best friend Amy!"
"Well, I sometimes spend time with my kid sister."
"No, not your kid sister!"
"My grandmother? I like her. I hope you don't think it's my mother. Me and her just don't see eye to eye."
"It's you're daughter!," I blurted. "You're baby daughter should be the most important female in your life!"
"Oh, yeah. That's right. My daughter."
To make a long lament short, things never did work out between me and Sonya. She left the Looking-Glass Cafe not long after. I hear she's now at some bikers bar near Sandusky. The guy she sleeps with works grill.
And, in case you're wondering, I eventually did pay Madame Imelda her $350. It was only fair.