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September 24, 2013

If you could read my mind

The man was a fraud, a charlatan! He was supposed to be a psychic, but, really, he used the same tricks all of the other supposed psychics use. It was actually kind of comical, obvious. He’d say, “Does the letter ‘M’ mean anything to anyone in this side of the room?”

How could it not mean something to at least one of the 50 people sitting on that side of the room? I haven’t checked census records, but I’m guessing about 20 percent of the American population has a name that starts with “M” — first, last, whatever. And then, when nobody says anything, he adds, “Street name? Family name? School? Business?”

I’m sitting there, and I’m thinking, “Cuss, I could do this! Sooner or later somebody’s gonna say they miss their grandmother, and I’d say, ‘She thinks about you constantly, and she remembers when you used to visit and play with a toy ... in the yard ... or in the parlor ...,’ and there would be tears of joy.”

And then, I answer myself, “But would you want to? This is pathetic. This guy is a joke.”

“Yes, but he’s probably making a lot of money.”

“Sure, but do you want to live like that? Knowing you are taking advantage of these people?”

“No, that’s the rub, isn’t it? Finding a way to make a living without taking advantage of people. Contributing something! Not just being a cog in the machine that is destroying the planet, adding to the misery that is permeating the human experience. Is there any way to do that?”

“I haven’t found one yet, but you know me; I’m the one talking to myself during this bogus ‘psychic’ demonstration. Why am I even here?”

“I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have come. It’s not like I can’t think of 5,000 better things to do any night of the week. Sitting alone in a dark room would have been more pleasant.”

“Ha, ha, I think you’re pretty good company, too! Ha, ha, ha.”

“Seriously, how much longer is this going to be going on?”

“Hey, I think that guy’s talking to you.”

“What?”

And then this pseudo-psychic says, “You’re thinking I’m a fraud, aren’t you?”

And I say, “Uh, well, uh, yeah.”

And he says, “I love it when that happens!” He pauses and says, “Hmm, I’ll talk to you after the presentation.”

And I think, “Yeah, right, good job covering for the fact that all you’re doing is tricking people into opening up about their personal stuff. We’re gonna have to get out of here quick, as soon as the lights come up.”

“I agree.”

So when the show was over, I practically climbed over a couple people trying to make it to the door. Thankfully, most of them were heading for the stage area where the guy was signing autographs.

“What a tool,” I thought, as I hit the sidewalk, feeling like I had just avoided a panic attack, but then, as I turned to walk toward my car, the guy’s standing right there!

He says, “I told you I wanted to see you after the performance.”

“No, that’s OK,” I said. “You should go sign your autographs. I don’t even know why I came here.”

“You came because you have a complicated internal dialogue ...”

“Oh, crap. Isn’t that everybody? Dude, seriously. Just drop it.”

“And your mind is pre-occupied with unresolving loops, memories of missteps and questions that have no answers. Why was that chair empty?”

“Again, that’s, like, everybody. It was empty because ... why don’t you tell me why it was empty? No, wait, what chair are you talking about?”

“The one in the cave.”

At this point I started to wonder what was going on. “Cave? Wait, are you a figment of my imagination? Are you a shadow of something I can’t see? Am I dreaming?”

And he said, “Um, no,” and we stood there, looking at each other for what felt like a long time.

For further consideration: There have been a lot of mentally handicapped characters solving crimes lately. It seems to have started with “Sherlock,” the very popular BBC update of Sherlock Holmes, who seems to suffer from a romantic touch of autism. The American update of the same character, on CBS’ “Elementary,” is a recovering drug addict, among other handicaps. Meanwhile, TNT’s “Perception” features a schizophrenic college professor (played by Eric McCormack) who is invited to tag along with various murder investigations. What is up with that?