Monday, April 30, 2007

all in the palm of my hand

The year was 1994. I was trying to stay awake in darkened biology class while Mr. Lay was showing slides about Down Syndrome. This, the "class half" of the room (other half being the "laboratory side") was crammed tight with desks whose attached tabletops were only slightly bigger than a piece of notebook paper, so it was precarious finishing my Spanish homework under a bio-binder coverup.

Lay flipped through the slides, describing some of the physical characteristics of people who have Down's: almond-shaped eyes, an enlarged tongue and a very distinct palm pattern-- one that consists of only two major lines instead of the more common three-line pattern. I'd never heard that last one before, so I looked up.

Then I looked at my own palm.

Then my books went crashing to the floor.

To my knowledge, I was not born with the chromosomal combination that causes Down Syndrome. I don't exhibit the other physical characteristics of it, either. However, my palm pattern is identical to the one projected on the biology room wall. I'd always wondered why my lines never matched up with the "palmistry" features in beauty magazines: Do I not have a brain? Will I never find love? What, dear heavens, did it mean?

"Palm reader" seems to be slapped onto characters in all levels of savory. I've never shown my hand to one--you just don't know if you can trust it. And as superstitious as I am, it's not impossible to imagine me signing up for the Convent after hearing that I indeed have no heart line. But that didn't stop me from turning to my trusty pal, The Internet, who said I have what's called a "Simian Line," characteristic of people with "base" intelligence and a propensity toward either perfectionism or criminality. Awesome!

I had forgotten about all that until last weekend, when someone at the conference mentioned he dabbled in palm reading and tarot cards. Of course I asked him all kinds of general questions and he said that there are plenty of shysters out there, but it's a very real art. He said it's easy to consult a book and make a completely wrong reading if you don't know what you're doing. And while he was learning, he looked at thousands of palms and cards--often for coworkers-- and even predicted real situations. I was still very skeptical, but after three days of hanging out with him, I really liked the guy; he seemed like a cynic himself and didn't have anything to gain from lying.

He said the "death" card doesn't mean you're going to die, just that a phase or element in your life is coming to and end. And that he never told anyone the bad stuff, but tried to phrase it in a constructive way, such as "you'll be going through a difficult time, but you'll get through it." However there was one reading for a coworker when all the bad cards came out in the ominous order for death. He tried to focus on the positive by telling her she'd have to face a very rough situation, but that she was surrounded by a lot of people who loved and supported her.

The next week, the girl wasn't in the office and he found out her mother had been struck by a car and killed. He called to offer his condolences and she said, "You were right! I have so many people to lean on and help me. It has been terrible to lose my mom, but I never realized what a great support system I have." He hasn't read too many cards since then.

On the last day of the conference, I caved. I really needed an "authority" to tell me I wasn't a freak, so I asked if he'd ever seen a palm with only two lines. He said it's not common but yes, and the Simian gobbledygook is more of an old wives' tale because modern palmistry considers it a good sign. He took a look at my palm and said I was not a weirdo, but in fact an old soul in touch with both the heart and the mind (I actually have both lines, but they're on top of each other). And he was dead on about other stuff, like the perfectionism, stubbornness and that I'm better at writing than verbalizing. He also said I'm very analytical and my decisions are usually sound, which is interesting because my natural state is one of perpetual decision-making agony.

True to form, there was no bad news. He even said I have a brilliant streak, but by then aw shucks, he was already my pal. I'm not going to dwell on the reading, but I'm sure the idea that I'm slated for a career change in my late 30s and that I'll be most successful later on in life will be in the back of my mind. (If it comes true, you heard it here first, folks.) For now, I'm just glad I'm not a criminal or worse, a loveless mindless freak.

When I got home, I told my mother what happened.

"I could have told you that you're not retarded, silly girl," she said. "What I want to know is this: did the guy say when you're going to get married?"


jazz said...

i'd go mad if my family pressured me to get marrie and have children.

i'd kill people.

probably my family.

cadiz12 said...

i think it's funny, more than anything else. it's nothing new, just the latest in a long list of demands: good grades, medical school, not moving away, marriage, grandkids.

at the end of the day you learn that there aren't any bad consequences for not complying. whatever they say, they'll support you no matter what you do, so you might as well make yourself happy.

at least i hope people figure that out.

ML said...

That is funny! Typical question asked by family members :) I was asked that very same question for years. Now that's I'm married, the first question that popped out of everyone's mouth was "are you having any children?"

Stephanie said...

I love how you ended that--too funny. I'm sure you've heard this before but speaking from very tired experience, seriously enjoy the single life while you can. Not that I'm not's just there's so much to enjoy without the um, baggage.

Alexandra said...

yeah i love the BLANK look my mom gives me everytime I mention that i do not want to have children. she just stares for a moment then goes: so anyway as I was saying, when you give me 3 grandkids i will do blabla and bla with them..


Guyana-Gyal said...

Now you can find your bio. teacher and tell him he FAILED. Ha.

It's amazing how that guy saw all that about the girl, and the death, and support.

Haha, your mum is a trip. Phew, I'm glad I have a sister who's given my mum 2 grandsons.

Beenzzz said...

HAHA! I like your Mom's question. Sounds like something a mom would say! I need to have my palm read too.

omar said...

So when are you getting married?

cadiz12 said...

i'm thinking sometime before the next century. my response to my mother is that she'd better take her vitamins if she wants to run around after the grandchildren.

Lia said...

Totally normal parental response, I'd say.

I still don't hold with palm reading. Everyone goes through trouble, and most of us have people to lean on. Et cetera.

Radioactive Jam said...

I get confused and think if someone looks at my palm they'll say "You are getting sleepy... very sleepy..."

Or maybe I just need a nap.

So you actually have the three lines, with two of them stacked?