Monday, January 23, 2012


At a party this Sunday, Madame Carlotta read my fortune. It was a Chinese New Years party and for me was a bit of a lark. I wasn’t taking it seriously. We’ve known our friend Louise since 1986 when we all lived and worked together in Caracas, and since then we’ve been to many of her wonderful parties. This time, her living room windows were strung with Chinese lanterns and paper dragons– and the piece de resistance, on the lower level, beside the self serve bar, was Madame Carlotta reading fortunes.

Louise asked for volunteers, so Ben went first, and I followed behind. I sat on the sofa with my glass of red wine. Here I had a good view of the card table across from Madame Carlotta. Ben placed his hand on a marble globe, which sat atop a turtle’s back. Madame Carlotta laid her hand on Ben's – so the energy would flow. She wore a green satin head scarf, which flowed across one shoulder, snake like, blending in with her caftan of identical fabric.

So there was Ben, first customer of the afternoon. True believer? Not one bit. In fact we volunteered to go down first because Ben wanted to leave this party early in order to get back home for the Patriots game.

I myself expected nothing but fun and games. Until she began, this woman in her robes sitting at a card table in Louise’s basement room. She asked the year of Ben’s birth and pronounced it the Year of the Snake. She then began to describe his personality - enumerating weaknesses and strengths, both in body and spirit. And as she spoke, quite matter of factly, about these intimate matters, I felt my attitude change. I sat there, gobsmacked. I daren't disclose precisely what she said. Let's just say she was killing him softly with her song.

After describing him to a tee, she told him what to expect in the coming year, what he would struggle with, what he’d overcome. “Any questions?” she asked at length.

“No,” said Ben. “But what you’ve said about me is entirely accurate.” He got up from the table and thanked her. He turned to me, and our eyes locked.

So now it was my turn, and I have to admit, that when I sat before Madame Carlotta – I wasn’t quite as dismissive or jocular as I’d been when we arrived.

Madame Carlotta met my eyes just briefly. In fact I felt resistance coming from this woman, as I tried to connect. She placed my hand on the marble globe and then her hand on top of mine. We were, she said, connecting our energies through the earth. After a minute, she removed my hands and looked at their tops side by side ... my hands on Louise’s card table, next to a ceramic kitty, next to this marble globe resting on a ceramic turtle.

I felt nervous.

“Oh,” she said. “You are very balanced.” She went on to say that I was a great communicator. I had, she said, developed my communication skills well, even though, by looking at my left palm she could tell I was born with more communication ability than demonstrated thus far.

She noted a triangle at the bottom of my hand – which indicated balance. I had creative intellectual energy, and loved my family deeply. I had some secrets - (thank goodness for that)- but by and large I was a real communicator.

The line running up my hand and into my little finger indicated the development of wit and intellect. And yet, she said, I didn’t care much for success. That wasn’t my focus. I was, she said, a romantic in relationships. This much, I already knew.

What I didn’t know so well, was that I had a head for business. Imagine it! She said that although she wouldn’t trust me with major investments I was good at money matters – far better, in fact than my husband Ben! She would like me to handle the books, she said.

Wow! Is this ever going to be fodder for future marital disputes~

There were a few other things- health was no concern, although she offered a few dietary considerations. Then she read my Tarot cards – placing them on a chart before us.

Turns out that somebody important is about to come into my life – someone who will guide me, and handle financial matters – and this will mean she said, a decided shift in focus.

The reading ended. Madame Carlotta looked up from my hands and into my face. “Do you have any questions?” she asked.

“So….” I ventured. “No artistic breakthroughs?”

She looked back at the cards. “As I say, someone is going to come into your life who will guide you and re-order your priorities.”

Ben and I thanked Madame Carlotta. Then we went upstairs to Louise’s living room. We ate a few more dumplings and deep fried shrimp, sat with other guests who shared anecdotes about their lives in Japan, insight into such things as the beauty of Savannah Georgia, and the feasibility of taking a weekend trip. I talked to a woman about the publication of her memoir and while I was deep in conversation about the novels of John Fowles, Ben found me, bringing my coat to hurry me along. We said our goodbyes and drove back home, so that Ben could watch the Patriots game with Alex.

I’d like to say we neither of us talked or thought any more about Madame Carlotta’s predictions. But this blog entry suggests otherwise. Somehow her words have seeped into our consciousness. I am glad to know I have a head for business – and that someone is going to step into my life in the year to come, shaking up my world view. Ben is ready to make a few changes in his modus operandi; it didn’t sound bad. Besides, who would object to such a scenario? In fiction there are only two plots: Man goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.

I’ve been on many journeys. So, bring it on, stranger! Come on in to town~

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