My body gives off a heady scent that only appeals to the most brainsick souls. Or I am the reincarnation of Margaret of Cortona, a patron saint of orphans, hoboes and the insane. These are some theories that could explain why lunatics zero in on me like heat-seeking missiles. But here’s a more honest and likely explanation: I encourage people to vomit their crazy-talk all over me.
A couple of nights ago I walked into The People’s Café on Haight Street hoping to catch happy hour and wait for a friend to get off work. After an hour I left the café full of beer as well as a new life direction.
Basically, this story is a perfect example of me bringing the psychotic rapture down on my own goddamn head: at a table next to the bar where I was sitting, there was a man. He sat with his arms stretched out in front of him, palms down, head down and tucked into his chest. I could have glanced at him, surmised that he was having a moment with himself and gone back to my drink, but no. I had to get up. I had to walk over to him. I had to ask,
“Are you ok?”
He lifted his face up.
“Oh, I’m fine, I’m just praying.”
“Don’t worry about it darling. Don’t be shy. Are you an artist?”
“You’re an artist.”
“Uh, kind of?”
“Would you like to know your destiny?”
Who could say no to that question? I feel like my life is floating around somewhere above my head at bird-level. I’ve been waiting for someone to come along and lasso it for me, drag it down out of the sky and show me what it really is and maybe tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do with it. So yes, I sat down with the praying man. Madness ensued.
This whole séance with Jesus and friends, or whatever it was, went on for about forty-five minutes and every moment of it was beautifully absurd.
The praying man told me that everyone has a destiny, and it was his personal charge to tell other human beings what they are meant to do and be on earth.
“Can I touch you?”
“Yeah, sure.” He was clearly a flaming queen, if this helps justify my willingness to let a strange man grope me at will.
He took my hand. He began to pray over it in a language that sounded like a mixture of Spanish and Pig Latin. While he jabbered, his partner returned from the bathroom and sat down. He smiled at me. Praying man stopped praying, turned to his man-friend and said,
“She has a tenderness about her.”
“Of course she does, she’s an artist.”
They looked at me.
I have no idea what my face revealed. I don’t know what I was thinking. There was a prolonged silence while both men attempted to look into my eyes—it’s tricky when two people try to do that at the same time. I didn't know who to focus on.
“You’re meant to teach.” The first man said.
“And write.” The second man said.
“Do you write?”
“Do you sing?”
“You need to sing. The singing will open your box.”
Then, three Latina women walked over to our table. One of them was enormously pregnant.
“Ah, the prophetesses are here!”
I am tempted to continue with full dialogue, but I’m not ready to write an epically long blog post at the moment. Maybe I’ll turn this into a short story later. For now, here’s my destiny in a nutshell:
“Your hands are meant to bring joy.”
“You will make… t-shirts. Like Jerry Garcia, did you know he made ties? And whether or not people liked his music, they liked his ties. It doesn’t matter if people like your writing or not, they’ll buy your t-shirts. And your shirts will have writing on them. And awesome graphics.”
“People will see you. Like, really see you. Right now, they don’t see. But you will be seen. Don’t all of you feel that, that she’ll be seen?”
At which point four of the prophets put their hands on my arms, hands, and knees while the fifth pregnant woman put one hand on her belly and the other on my heart. She started chanting, “You will be seen!” and everyone joined in.
Then they called down God from heaven and told him to fill me up with love.
Finally, one guy took what looked like a large business card out of his backpack and wrote this on the back of it:
ARTIST – BOX IS BEING OPENED
TEACHER – WRITER
YOU ARE COMING OUT OF THE BOX
MUSIC – SONG/GUITAR
YOUR TENDERNESS WILL BE SEEN
I have to admit, they seemed able to sense certain truths about me (maybe my wardrobe just screams "liberal arts college grad, hipster-ish, probably makes shitty art of some kind and feels insecure about quality of said shitty art")
I don't believe in God. I don't believe in Destiny. And these café-prophets wanted to sell me both. Yes, I was both amused and bemused by their cultish chanting and glossolalia. But I still appreciated the gesture, the "laying on of hands," the idea that physical contact combined with verbal encouragement can be healing.
Thanks for the good vibes, zealous strangers.