Last Friday, I wheezed, coughed, and sniffed myself into the shop of the local herbalist on Victoria Street. I had been on the way back from trying to get an instant massage when I passed the place. I realized I had been on antibiotics for four days and using whatever I knew about alternative treatment for three weeks. It was time to seek out some expert advice.
“Do you have any eucalyptus oil?” I asked the seemingly kind, bespectacled gentleman behind the counter. My friend on the east coast had told me to drive around and gather the leaves off eucalyptus trees, then steam them to clear my head and nose. But the thought of driving elsewhere when I was stuck in Santa Barbara - and too exhausted to even drive home - seemed overwhelming. I was willing to pay for this shortcut.
“Sure. You can have this bottle for seventeen bucks,” he said.
“That is way too much. How would I use it anyway?”
“You boil water on the stove and pour in a few drops, then inhale the steam; how about nine?”
“You are on,” I told him. My mind was a bit foggy, but I remembered some other leads. “And do you have any grape root, or olive seed, or cat’s claw? My friend back east recommended all this to shake my cold.”
“I have just what you need.” He produced a bottle of an immunity-building concoction of several herbs, made to shake colds and coughs. The price was $195.
“I can’t afford that much. But I write a palmistry column. I could trade you a reading.; it would bring in business.”
“I don’t want more business. I have enough work as it is. We have to do this all ourselves.”
I looked around at the wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor stack of herbal goods. I imagined how much work it took to prepare all the items. “How about a bottle half that size?” I offered.
“Eighty five bucks.”
“And half of that?”
“I’d like to take your money, but that amount won’t do you any good. I will sell you this for forty. That’s what I’ve got in it.”
“How about twenty?”
“It’s a deal.” Then, after he rang me up for the $34, the kind gentleman stuck out his right palm. I knew I had an appointment at home, but kept my part of the bargain, even though he had originally declined.
“So, what I see here,” I started, “is first that the pinky finger on your right hand comes well above the mark of the top knuckle line on the pointer.”
“Well, this means that you are well above the water mark in terms of making money. You are doing all right for yourself.”
“Hey, come out here,” he called to his wife - who was working in the crammed little office off to the side. “This palmist says I am doing okay financially!”
His mate came out soon, apparently glad to hear the latest news.
“And,” I went on, “I haven’t seen your left hand, so I don’t know what you were brought in with, but I would hazard a guess just by looking at this palm that you were not born wealthy - that you worked your way up. I know there are a lot of people in the area who started out with a lot of wealth, but I don’t feel that you were one of them.”
“How do you know that?” Both his wife and the owner peered down at his palm in surprise.
“Because, you see all these lines on the first tier of knuckles? And on the second tier, too? That shows that the first two portions of your life were difficult. Then the lines disappear and the skin on your last knuckle area is clear. From this I can see that the first two sections of your life were a lot harder than the last one. I conclude that you worked your way up, no matter what you did.”
“You are right,” said his wife. “What else do you see?”
“Well, I forgot to mention that I charge $50 for everything I say that’s right.” They laughed, but I was only half joking. Charging the disbeliever is a way to increase my earnings, whatever the setting. And because the rationalist takes the wager, figuring there is nothing to lose. Then I gain, and they cough up. I eyed the price on the bottles he had sold me and remembered what I had actually paid. I guessed what I could add to the bargain reasonably. “OK, throw in a spray bottle of Rescue Remedy and I will continue.”
His wife nodded. The herbalist threw me a bottle, and I went on.
“Thanks! I also see an Aquarius finger, which means you are always way ahead of everyone else. If you say something - say at a meeting - people aren’t on that wavelength with you yet. They may roll their eyes, thinking you crazy. Sometimes you take this personally.” I pointed to the curving pinkie finger on his right hand, rounding gracefully towards the ring finger.
“And here, the way the pinkie finger sticks out from the rest of your palm, that shows that it is better if you work for yourself instead of for others.”
“You bet,” his wife agreed emphatically. She had been silently absorbed in examining her own hands, but quickly looked up from this project, still listening. “Look, see, I have those lines on the bottom two knuckles and it gets clearer too.” She held her hands out for me to read.
I knew this was too much to do with a cold, and that I had a date with a friend back in Carpinteria shortly. I explained my policy politely. “I am sorry. I can’t jump back and forth between two people. I am reading the whole soul of the person - the way the soul sits in the hands. It opens up too much energy to go back and forth. But it is natural for two people who are together to have similar markings.”
“We have something that can help you do that,” the herbalist intervened, jokingly.
We all laughed. I made an appointment to read for his wife and his daughter the next week, and rushed out just in time to hit rush hour traffic.
Batya Weinbaum is a local palmist in Carpinteria. To have your palms read, mail a Xerox of each to 4902 Sandyland Road, #140, Carpinteria, CA, 93013, or call 216 233 0567 for an appointment. Parties and groups are $150 an hour.