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Tarot Cards

Did you hear about the tarot whiz who got hit by a truck?

She didn't see it coming.

Ha! Tarot card readers can be fun, especially when they're your wife and you can tease them in print. Yahaira, my little gypsy, has researched tarot, taken the quizzes, even spoken to a profoundly obese woman who speaks with the dead (a large medium).

There was, of course, a learning curve in Yahaira's early readings:

"You will suffer tremendously. Bankruptcy. Divorce. PAIN! ... No, wait. I'm looking at the wrong thing."

My wife received with her cards, at no extra charge, a "dowsing crystal" that responds to life's difficult questions by spinning in circles (an approach I've used for years).

"Gimme a question," said Yahaira. "Any question."

"Okay. Who are you and what have you done with my real wife?"

What surprises me is how society, for all its learning, persists with drawn-out court trials when we have at our disposal something as simple and decisive as the dowsing crystal. Surely it could have done better with O.J.

One day Yahaira had a falling out with her crystal, which was being, in her words, "a punk." She punished the crystal by stuffing it into her underwear drawer, the ultimate insult for talking objects.

She returned to her favorite tarot whiz, Joann Bunning, who frankly takes the fun out of teasing. Bunning makes tarot sound almost ... reasonable.

"The cards," she says, "are just tools to discover deeper truths about ourselves."

One truth we discovered is that Yahaira is closely related to Rain Man. With each reading, she demands more silence, shushing me even when I'm quiet. She lays the cards on wood -- earth energy -- which I am forbidden to touch. And that's the beauty of tarot: It combines the wisdom of the ages with the madness of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"This is the Wheel of Fortune," she said, tapping a card. "It can mean a lot of things: chance encounters, revelation, a twist of fate."

"Guess we'll have to wait for Vanna to flip over more letters."

Yahaira gave me the stink-eye, still upset from when I accused her of dealing from the bottom of the deck.

"Very interesting," she said. "The Jack of Cups is upside down again."

(Cards have different meanings when they're upside down, same as humans.)

If I take the cards lightly, it's only because I'm a fan of free will. If I were a psychic, my readings would go like this:

"You will make tons of money, have a tight family, and feel supremely content ... orrrr you will fight with your spouse, keep changing jobs, and hate to wake up in the morning ... depending on the choices you make."

Yahaira has started doing tarot in bed. She sits up tall, closes her eyes, and spreads the cards out wide (the worst kind of bedspread). And I am not allowed to blink or wiggle or otherwise clear my throat lest our fates are screwed up forever. So it goes.

I can't blame my wife for playing on The Other Side. This one has been totally ruined by science. I myself long daily for angels or UFOs or Bigfoot -- anything to upset the box. Where are all the miracles now that we have camcorders?

Last night Yahaira was up till three a.m. asking the cards whether I've ever cheated on her. I knew enough to make-believe-snore till I fell asleep. It's not that I had anything to hide; it's just that she was getting pretty intense and I didn't want to end up in the underwear drawer.


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