Monday, March 07, 2005

Miss Cleo

My wife Angela is trying to dissuade me from pursuing this little side project. She understands how the Noon children are prone to wasting their time on these sorts of things. She also reminded me that I tend to agonize over nearly everything I write, to the extent that I will spend hours modifying an e-mail that may only reach a half-dozen people. Evidently, in these moments, there is a discernible inverse relationship between time invested and social value produced. Then again, no one reads the journal articles and book reviews I publish, either. Then again, three hours spent writing a letter to Miss Cleo, the telephone psychic won't get me tenure.

So in the spirit of amortizing my labor, I give you this re-treaded e-mail exchange, which took place when Miss Cleo wrote me in May 2002. Here's what we said to each other:


Dear Dave,

We must speak with you. I don't usually take the time out to
write a personal note, Dave, but your name was provided by
someone you had recently spoken to. We believe your vibrations
to be so strong that I've endorsed a free Tarot reading with
one of our elite psychics! It's urgent, however, that you
call immediately - I can only reserve this number for a
limited time. Call toll-free 1-800-289-5924, now!

Dave, we sensed that your connection is likely to be
unusually strong, especially in the very near future. It is
vital that you call us right away to optimize the results of
your reading. There's not much time! Call toll-free
1-800-289-5924 as soon as you receive this letter!

With love and prayers,

Miss Cleo

P.S. Please do not share this number with anyone - it is
meant only for you, Dave. However, you must call soon - we
can only reserve this number for a short time. Call toll-free
1-800-289-5924 right now!

Miss Cleo-

Thank you for your kind note. As your subject line so quickly reminded me, it *has* been too long -- too long since I received an ACTUAL, PERSONAL note from a mass-market e-mail campaign, particularly from a reputable outfit such as yours. And as you've already figured out, I *have* been feeling a great many VIBRATIONS in the past few weeks, and for the utter life of me I've no idea what to do with them. It's difficult to explain their exact contours, to trace their throbbing migrations, but I feel them at the base of my skull sometimes, or nestled deep inside my forehead, where they scuttle around like a swarm of egg-laying spiders. They make the kind of sound you might expect if you were to slam a pick-axe against a steel drum, or if you were to punch a harp with a tea kettle. It's the sort of feeling -- and maybe you can identify with this -- but it's the sort of feeling you can't endure but whose removal would surely extinguish you. Does that make sense to you? Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you understand this heinous, miraculous vibration that I am describing?

I know you can help, Miss Cleo. I can't tell you how glad I am that you received my name from someone who recently spoke with me. How else would you have known that I only go by "Dave," and that being called "David" makes my skin turn inside out and brings relentless, stabbing pains to my groin? But you called me "Dave." So familiar, This warms me. I feel -- and I don't know how to say this without sounding silly -- but I feel BUTTERY inside. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I feel MOIST or JUICY, and certainly not FLUFFY or CREAMY, but "buttery?" Yes, definitely. If I had to classify my feelings right now, I would have to say they fall under the rubric of "warm and buttery." Then again, you knew that. Sigh.

You see, I don't speak with too many people these days, so I know that you really are close to my trusted inner circle. And that circle is very, very small -- like a noose, or maybe a cock ring. But you knew this, too. (Sorry, I forgot!) Anyway, as you're aware, I don't talk to a lot of people these days because people fucking piss me off, Miss Cleo. I mean, I don't want to sound too negative about this, but most of them are wretched, life-sucking parasites who should be destroyed for their own sake if not for yours or mine. I mean, when you're speaking with these fools -- this endless conga line of three-fingered dipshits, this Macy's parade of cartoonish, inflatable fuck-ups -- on the telephone, listening to their personal problems or the financial quandaries they've created through their own contemptible buffoonery, don't you just want to reach through the telephone wires and throttle them with your bare fucking hands? Don't you want to flay the skin from their bodies, or de-bone them and play polo with their sagging carcasses? Come on, Miss Cleo. You may know something about me, but don't think for a second that I don't know a thing or fucking two about you and *your* needs. I always wondered why you seem so goddamn HAPPY on your infomercials, but now I know why -- it's because you think about all the STABBING you'll be doing once the time is right.

You can't tell me I'm wrong here, because I've had the goddamn visions. When I meditate and wander off to my imaginary "happy place," do you know what I see? Aside from the endless, scorched horizon of the Second Coming? Aside from the senseless destruction of property? I see you and me, Miss Cleo, cracking skulls and high-fiving our way through a writhing, ankle-deep ocean of maimed losers. You'd be saying things like, "You want a tarot reading? Here's your fucking tarot reading, you fucking pinhead - the cards say you're in for A LOT OF FUCKING PAIN RIGHT NOW!" As you scream -- and I can only describe it as a righteous edifice of open-throated noise -- you're opening up arteries with your fingernails.

When I wake from this vision, I am calm and satisfied. I smoke an enormous joint and pass out in front of the television, where your infomercials scroll through in an endless loop of cheap irony that only you and I truly understand.

Don't worry, Miss Cleo. I'm going to call that number you gave me. I won't share it with anyone, because I know your messages are meant for me and for me only. I need to do something about these vibrations. We both know that our connection is -- how did you put it? -- "unusually strong" right now. The time is right, Miss Cleo. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.