Request fulfillment for Agent Cake…
I consider myself to be a fairly scientific guy.
I like to have evidence. Hard, actual, touch-it-look-at-it-feel-it-rub-it-on-your-happy-parts-kind-of-serious-proof when a fantastical claim is made. Even still… I never buy the “you’ll believe it when you see it” arguments… because I *don’t* trust my own senses, and don’t consider that to be solid enough proof. No, senses can be influenced and tricked… by others and even ourselves… so “firsthand experience” isn’t as reliable as most people think, in my eyes. We need actual informed, 3rd party-science to back it all up.
Simply put… I find Scooby-Doo to be more scientifically realistic than The X-Files.
(The talking dog part is simple… we all know Shaggy is a Hippy with Constant Munchie Syndrome, so we all know what he’s on. In fact, he’s doing so much of it, that all the others are on a continuous contact-high as a result. Notice how Fred, Velma & Daphne never talk to Scooby without Shaggy around? But I digress…)
Yes, I’m a skeptic. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing to be. Being skeptic doesn’t mean “ultimate non-believer that can’t be swayed”… it just means that I don’t take things for granted. I got questions that I would like answered before I swallow the “miracle elixir that cured a hundred European villages in the 17th century”… or whatever it is I’m being asked to swallow. Just because the sales-pitch, label and a so-called “doctor” reading a cue card (badly) say its good for me… doesn’t mean I’m going to believe it.
So, I think I’m a fairly tough sell when it comes to “the Unexplained”… that is, if you want me to take it seriously. For pure entertainment value, however, I’ll sign up on it in a second.
That’s kind of the trick to it… at the bottom of the screen on every Psychic Hotline commercial… in tiny letters on every daily horoscope… hidden away from obvious view on every pack of Tarot cards and store-bought divination method… there are the words “For Entertainment Only”.
Which seems a bit hypocritical when you think about it, actually… because aren’t these practices and items based on religions and practices from other parts of the world? So wouldn’t it be a slight infringement on the right to Freedom of Religion to insult it by saying it’s “For Entertainment Only?” I’ve never seen a similar disclaimer in the front of the Bible… nor do I think you’ll find a church bulletin that mentions the subject of that day’s sermon, along with an asterisk telling you that.
Though it would be a VERY interesting way to piss people off. (That almost makes it worth it to try…)
Hypocrisy aside… there are a lot of people that DON’T look at them as “Entertainment Only”, and in fact put a lot of stock in them. I’m not one to say one way or the other that “your belief is crap”… I wouldn’t do that to anyone, no matter how silly I think the logistics are. It’s important to have SOMETHING to believe in… and I hope that in believing in whatever you choose, you don’t get fleeced, betrayed, molested or are ever referred to as a “mark”.
But for myself… if you want me to swallow that “wonder elixir”, then you better be able to back it up… and NEVER say, “Well, you just have to ‘trust me’” (or anything resembling it). Ironically, that’s when I *won’t* trust you. I can’t blindly trust on something like that… it’s just not in me. I’m way too suspicious of humanity.
So, it’s the Path of the Healthy Skeptic for me. I’m able to stay open-minded and yet critical at the same time. Nevertheless, I’ve known many people that were determined to make a “believer” out of me. More often than not, they were talking about Psychic readings, tarot cards, or other methods of fortune-telling and divination.
I’ve had several friends that read Tarot Cards… a few of them took it WAY too seriously. I came in late to a gathering one evening, where this ultra-serious-pseudo-Wiccan (“pseudo” because she called herself that… but really didn’t know that much about it) was doing Tarot readings. When someone suggested that I get mine done… she was hesitant, saying she was “feeling so drained”.
Uh… aren’t you just dealing out CARDS? I don’t exactly see what’s so physically or mentally “draining” about that. Other Tarot readers I’ve known have been more realistic… they knew it was only card-dealing, and didn’t mind doing more than one on a particular evening.
Most times, I kept hearing that my future holds great riches and wondrous happiness. (Or was it wondrous riches and great happiness?) The first time I had a friend that practiced Palmistry, she looked at my hand and said that I had the “longest Fame line” she’d ever seen. “This is like… Robert De Niro-type famous! It goes right off your hand!” Now, I’m not one to criticize the gods or my Fate or anything like that… but I’m just saying: I’m hurtling towards my mid-30s. De Niro had already done Godfather Part 2 and Taxi Driver at my age… tick tock tick tock, know what I mean, guys?
Too bad my Psychic visits were never that optimistic. There were 2 times that I’ve talked with a professional Psychic… I say “professional”, because I assume they make money at it normally. I didn’t pay them anything.
First time was just after I graduated High School. The school had a big all-night Lock-In After-Party for the graduating class at the YMCA. They had a bunch of activities, carnie-style games, and one of these was a group of Psychics giving free readings. Now my love-life hadn’t even begun at that point, never had a relationship… so naturally the first thing I asked was what my love-life was going to look like in the near future. I had recently met, in person, a pen pal (female), and we had been hanging out a bit, and becoming good friends. So when the Psychic asked if I’ve met anyone new recently… well, that was my answer. The Psychic got a big smile and started spouting, “WELL… I see you two dating for quite awhile, and while it won’t ultimately last, you two will be mature enough to remain good friends.”
Now, I found this slightly comical… because we DID talk about the possibility of dating prior to this… and both mutually decided that we didn’t want to. We just wanted to be friends. And that’s how we remained… as good friends.
What I found even MORE comical was when she concluded the reading with, “Now remember… this is all in the future, so nothing is set in stone… it can easily change.” Even at my 17-year-old-about-to-be-18-naïve state of mind… I still had the intelligence to think, “What the F did she just say? Did she just give herself an ‘Out’? So that even if/when the predictions DON’T come true, she can still have credibility? Are you F-ing kidding me????”
That… was a complete sham. An obvious one.
The second time was a few years later when I was at college. The school hired a few psychics for a “Psychic Fair”, to give free readings to the kids. I managed to get in line fairly early (I had to get in there about 2 hours early and wait… because it filled up FAST). When I got my turn… I soon realized I got the “low-rent” psychic. She said she was a Numerologist… so with all the questions I was asking, she was basically saying, “oh… Numerology doesn’t answer that. Nope, not that either.” (What the hell DOES it answer?) Again, I was asking about my love-life (because our priorities never *really* change, do they?)… and I kept insisting that she give me SOMETHING to justify my 2 ½ hour wait in line. She relented and asked me to slowly count to 10 aloud. I did, and while I was counting, she closed her eyes and put her hands to her temples and “concentrated”. When I finished, she said that she saw, “A girl… thin, a little shorter than you, with straight black hair, and an ‘Up’ personality”. Okay… that sounded pretty specific… and the first person that came to mind was a friend of mine… who was like my long-lost twin sister. And… frankly, it would have felt incestuous to even think of dating her. (Not to mention her long-time boyfriend who is now her loving husband)
Just after I left, I spotted a group of my friends, and I ran over to join them. They asked what I was doing over there, and I described my “totally bogus psychic reading” I just got. And I described exactly who she said I’d be dating… just as I’m finishing, expecting us all to laugh together… someone else approaches us. A young lady named Erika… who was a little shorter than me… was thin… had what could be considered an “Up” personality… and while she was a straight-haired blond… on this occasion, had dyed her hair jet black. I suddenly start having a brain hemorrhage over the coincidence… all my friends are cracking up laughing, and Erika is saying, “What? What? What did I miss?”
And later that night… ended up being mine and Erika’s first date.
Now… it does sound like the low-rent Numerologist totally pinned me on that one… but the description she gave, wasn’t exactly *that* specific. I was just a little taller than most women. EVERYONE is trying to be thin. An “Up” personality is really someone that isn’t completely depressing… so that was most people. And the hair color? 50-50 shot at the two most prominent hair colors… blond or brunette. In actuality, that woman probably described 75% of the sorority girls on campus. It’s called playing the odds.
Not to mention that I could have made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, Erika was extremely attractive… but I had never conceived the idea of dating her prior to that. Given this description, maybe I was ON THE LOOK for someone like that… and since Erika was the first one to come along that fit that… well, maybe that’s what made me interested, and not for her actual personality. (Which, I’m sad to say, is admittedly an insult to her, as SHE was interested in me at the time. Sure, we didn’t last long, and broke up under unpleasant circumstances… but I do hope she’s doing well today.)
I told you… I’m skeptic. I don’t take personal experience as stone-cold fact. No matter how convincing.
Now, my best friend has told me about a “Great” Psychic that she’s seen… an older woman named Ramona. Apparently, my friend never gave her much information… and Ramona started spouting back specifics and all-too-freaky-hit-the-nail-on-the-head kind of things. She said that if I’m interested in seeing a Psychic… she’s the one.
And I’ll tell you… I *am* interested, still. I never paid for those other two… and well, you do get what you pay for. Maybe I’ll have a different experience when currency is exchanged… or maybe I’ll just lose the money. I’ve gone to the store/liason that Ramona deals through… a new age store about 45 minutes north of me. I’ve stopped in and inquired about making an appointment… turns out Ramona only does the “Psychic Fairs” they put on about once a season. (Hmmm… I don’t fare well with the Psychic Fairs… but still, I’d be paying, and my best friend, whom I very much trust… highly recommends her. And she’s a tough cookie to pull the wool over.) So whenever the next one is… I’ll try to make an appointment.
If the experience is at all note-worthy… I’ll do a follow up about it on here.
But I’m going in ultra-skeptic… because maybe she’s just REALLY good at cold-reading (the technique used by con artists to pass off fake psychic abilities)… or has a crack-team of Super-Google Search Engines sitting in the next room, on the other side of a wireless microphone. Because ultimately… it doesn’t hold a lot of outward credibility for me. It has to be earned, and psychics, tarot cards, reading tea leaves, throwing stones, examining goat entrails… they haven’t earned it yet.
Now, I’ll flat out admit something… that probably will make me sound very hypocritical.
I own a set of Viking Runes. Yep… I own my own set of a divination method.
I got them in 1993, just after I graduated High School. In my town, there’s this little train caboose that just sits by a set of unused tracks… and it’s rented out as actual business space. Tiny business space, sure, but business space nonetheless. At this time, I think it’s rented by a massage therapist. But back then, it was a New Age Hippy selling New Age-Hippy stuff. He was a very friendly guy… and I bought two things from him in total. One was a shirt with about 1,000 skulls all over it (I thought it was cool), and the other was this set of Viking Runes. They were in a bag that was hand-made by some little old lady on consignment… and I was under the impression that runes themselves were also hand-made, but I’m not exactly sure on that. They also came with a small book that detailed what the runes meant. I’d seen similar sets in regular stores… runes and a book in a shrink-wrapped-mass-printed-box (looked very commercial)… but these were just the bag with the runes and book inside. Basically, the way I keep them now, is the exact way they were purchased. The non-commercial simplicity of it kind of appealed to me. Felt genuine. (Though it’s entirely possible that one of those mass-produced sets was bought, unwrapped and dumped into a $2 cloth bag. But it FELT genuine.) When I went back the second time to pick up the skull shirt (it was a special order), the Hippy told me that the woman was “so happy someone bought her runes”… so I thought that was nice.
It didn’t come with a “playing field”… usually a piece of cloth used to simply lay out the Runes when doing your “readings”. I was in Spencer’s and found a placemat… that had a big picture of the moon on it, with stars and other planets dotting the outside. Since I’m a Moon Child 3 times over (I’m a Cancer, born on a Monday and in the evening… any one of which makes you a Moon child… I’ve got all 3), I thought it was appropriate for me. Sure, the moon has a big cartoon smile… but still…
Anyway, I looked over the book… trying to learn how the darn things work. It had several examples on doing different kinds of readings… and how you could do them to look at once specific issue in your life… or do it to look at your life as a whole. I was interested in the “life as a whole” reading… but I was hesitant. I mean… I only have one life… from birth to death… so logically, I can really only do ONE reading of it to get the overview. Doing any more after that simply invalidates the first one. “Oh, I didn’t like that one… I’ll do another until I get something I like.” No, I don’t roll that way. If I’m going to do the “Life Reading”… I’m only ever doing one. None of the models they gave appealed to me that much… so I made up my own. Nothing too imaginative… I just laid out all 25 Runes in a circle. (I was thinking of a whole “circle of life” thing… and this was well before The Lion King.) I also copied the layout on paper, and marked where I began.
I looked at the whole layout, and didn’t see anything that had earth-shattering meaning… I wasn’t really expecting that. But at the very end of the circle… the last two runes did seem a bit symbolic. You see, out of all 25… the last rune is the “unknowable” Rune… or the Blank one… is supposed to hold the most mystery. I was partially hoping to get that as the very last one… maybe symbolizing jumping into the next life/plane of existence/whatever. Because that truly is “unknowable”. It wasn’t the last rune… it was the second-to-last on mine. The very last one… when I looked it up… was the “Rune of the Self”. It kind of represents who you truly are (and is the first Rune in the set). So… according to this… I encounter the unknown… and then Myself.
Metaphysically speaking… whoa, that’s heavy. (isn’t it?)
Now I never did another reading like that… true to my word. From then on, the way I used or “read” the Runes was reaching my hand into the bag… mixing them around until I’m sure I’ve at least touched each one. Then I pick them all up in a mass, and while still buried in the sack, start to shake and move my hand, causing them all to fall out… until only one remains in my hand. Then I pull it out of the bag and look at it. I never did more than one a day at any one time. Sometimes going a long time without selecting one… other times doing it for several days in a row. Sometimes I’d pick a Rune before a performance for whatever play I was in… just as a personal tradition, to see how that performance would go. (It helped keep me on my toes)
I never looked at it as “the Gods were guiding my hand in picking the Runes, and this is their divine wisdom”… because reading the meanings of the Runes… they’re pretty darn generic, actually. EXTREMELY generic. Downright vague. In fact… ANY of those Runes could apply in “some way” to my current life… So I know I’ll never get an earth-shattering answer from them… but I saw them as “a different way to look at things”. If something was bugging me… they gave me a suggestion to meditate on it in a manner I probably hadn’t yet considered at that moment. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it doesn’t. Its credibility is similar to me directly asking my cat what the solution should be. (Which, according to her… usually entails eating a snack and sleeping in the sun for 5 hours. Admittedly, that *does* often help…)
So there’s my Hypocrisy. I know it. I admit it. Bite me.