Bad Habits - Self-fulfilling prophecy - March 23 2005

Parlor games and pesky predictions, off the sausage-gravy train

?I thought I was sick of mini-muffins, do-it-yourself waffles, and eggs in a tray, both hard-boiled and scrambled.

But put me in a hotel without continental breakfast and watch me crumble like a day-old biscuit waiting to be topped with delicious sausage gravy.

That´s another continental breakfast staple, in case you´re not familiar with hotel life Ñ biscuits with sausage gravy. I´ve been living mostly in hotels since November, so I´ve got the routine down.

Sadly, though, the rooms keep getting smaller, which I take as a sign to get the hell back into a real dwelling Ñ you know, with a yard or a mailbox. We´ve gone from a suite with sitting area, to one that was merely hot plate-equipped to one that doesn´t even have a mini-fridge. (I´ve sunk below your average college freshman.) Or continental breakfast. I mean, really, who booked this room? I want sausage gravy, dammit! I´ve often imagined the vat it must come in, industrial-sized and plainly labeled with an expiration date stretching far into the future, perhaps 2010, the year of the flying car.

I´m tempted to check my horoscope to see where my own future is headed, and yet I dare not. I don´t have the shelf life of sausage gravy and I fear things may go bad at any moment.

I try to masquerade as a sensible person. But sometimes I want a little help. Maybe it´s just relief at having some outside direction, but I´ll confess that I´m overly susceptible to predictions. Astrological forecasts, psychic visions, crystal ball readings, you name it.

In fact, I´ve based most of my adult life on a 1991 reading from the Psychic Friends Network. ¨No, you will not be a singer,¨ the operator told me. ¨You will write for an audience.¨ Making these decisions on my own seemed scary. But having my ambitions confirmed by a complete stranger at $4.99 a minute gave them added weight. Indeed, it was nothing short of a mandate.

My boyfriend finds it preposterous that any thinking being would take to heart any advice from the Psychic Friends Network, much less plan his or her life around it. I don´t have the heart to tell him it wasn´t actually quite the Psychic Friends Network, but a discount bargain version. He got huffy enough when he thought it was the real deal. ¨I just can´t talk to someone who planned her life around a psychic reading!¨ But it was a good reading.

He just better hope I don´t decide to listen to the CL psychic. She had plenty to say about him, stuff that I haven´t heeded Ñ yet.

That used to be one of the job benefits of working at this paper: the company psychic. A couple of times a year, she would come and give readings. (Hey, some workplaces have great dental plans, others connect you with outer dimensions.)

Every single time I saw her, she told me I reminded her of Stephanie Zimbalist from the old TV detective show ¨Remington Steele.¨ And then she´d launch into the Zimbalist family publishing history and link that up to my destiny of running my own business.

So far, most of her predictions for me have come to pass. She told me that my boyfriend and I would have one child and never marry.

But she also said that we´d break up and then get back together later. That last part is confusing because I break up with him all the time in my head.

It helps me get through the day. Ha! I think. The jackass doesn´t even know we´re not together right now! I broke up with him this morning and he has no idea.

So does that count? Madame Cleo? Anyone?


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