Getting Psyched

Tarot card readings, real or fake?



The kiosk popped up near Barnes & Noble on Bethesda Avenue: Tarot Cards, a discreet sign read. 

“I need to get my tarot cards done,” I announced, elbowing my husband as a small child (Not mine, for once) attempted to swan dive into the fountain in front of us. “What if I’m about to win the lottery and don’t know it?”

“It doesn’t rhyme with carrot,” he said scornfully. “If you go in asking for that, they’re going to mock you.” (Note to self: Remember to mock husband after I win the lottery jackpot.)

I went home, convinced the editor of this magazine to spring for my rhymes-with-sparrow reading and went back a few days later. The kiosk was gone.

A less intrepid reporter might have let the story die there, but I couldn’t. (My deadline was approaching, and I had no other column ideas.)

So I went home and devised plan B: Summoning all of my investigative skills and resources (Google!), I’d hunt down a tarot card reader.

It might sound easy, but the planning and subterfuge this escapade required was anything but.

First, I asked a friend to call and make my appointment, figuring my last name is unusual enough that the psychic could use her investigative skills and resources (Google!) to learn about me in advance. I removed my wedding ring before the reading to throw the woman off track. And I rehearsed my reading performance: I’d be like a hostile defense witness at a trial, withholding any information the psychic could use to make her predictions. (Note to CIA: I’m available for freelance undercover work.)

Two days later I found myself in the home of a psychic in Bethesda, shuffling a deck of oversize cards while attempting to infuse them with my “energy.”

“You’re a positive person,” the psychic told me as she began to lay down the cards. I wiped the smile off my face just to confuse her.

Then she told me a few other things: There was someone in my profession who was jealous of me (J.K. Rowling, it’s you, isn’t it?), and I would have four children. (Must buy portable defibrillator before telling my husband this.) Oh, and a male friend was about to reveal his romantic feelings for me. (Are you reading this, dear? A little Godiva goes a long way toward buying my loyalty.)

Twenty minutes later I was walking out the door feeling more confused than ever.

Would I do it again? Surprisingly, yes. (Especially if the magazine pays.)

I liked my psychic. She gave me some practical advice, the kind you’d get from a girlfriend. (A girlfriend who charges $3 a minute.)

She told me not to let jealous or negative people affect me, because they’re more of a nuisance than a threat.

Of course, she also encouraged me to ask questions and let her know if her predictions were on-target. “Does anyone come to mind?” she asked after mentioning I had a professional rival. (Note to CIA: I didn’t break.)

Best of all, she said that I was about to come into significant money, which means the lottery check should arrive any day now. There’s just one problem: I forgot to ask her which numbers to pick. (Yup, I’m going back for another reading.)

Sarah Pekkanen is the author of the novels Skipping a Beat, The Opposite of Me and the upcoming These Girls. Her website is www.sarahpekkanen.com, and she can be reached at sarah.pekkanen@bethesdamagazine.com.

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