The biggest thing on my mind before my first psychic reading is the economy. Will I have a job in six months? What if the financial system collapses? Can I trust the fortune cookie that insisted a "big opportunity" awaits?
The second-biggest thing OK, maybe it's tied for first has to do with the psychic process. Will my psychic dazzle me by twisting my words into irrefutable generalizations? What justifies a national news story saying the psychic business is booming in these uncertain times?
To be blunt: Will this just be a whole lot of shit?
My visit to Celebration Conscious Living Store, 2209 W. Colorado Ave., starts off well. Patricia "Trish" Fleming, my psychic for a half-hour appointment, greets me in the shop amid mystical-looking trinkets and books about spirituality. She has long, blonde hair, very white teeth and is dressed conservatively in a pale pink blouse.
"People tell me I don't look like a psychic," she says.
In a small room with purple walls, the reading starts off with her swinging a small pendulum a "dowsing" tool, I learn over a chart. The chart doesn't say much, so Fleming pushes it away, stares at the ceiling and tries, apparently, to communicate with some mysterious presence in the room.
Things go south immediately.
"They're talking about your colon," she says with a tone of apology. "This is what they are going for first. We're interested in your colon."
Uh oh. My reading really will be about shit.
This is not what I expected. A November story in the New York Times talked about more stockbrokers and bankers visiting psychics for investment advice and economic forecasts. I'm hoping some sort of mystical consensus is building about the next Berkshire Hathaway opportunity that will help me retire a wealthy man.
To the extent that a psychic reading is a personalized thing, that might have been absurdly wishful thinking. I am, after all, a journalist. My investment portfolio, if it can be called that, is remarkable only for having so little potential for losing value.
Local psychics actually don't seem to be cashing in on the investment-advice rush, but business is fairly strong. Glen Schilling, Celebration's owner, once had psychics at the store only on weekends. Now there's a rotating schedule seven days a week.
"It seems to me, in the last year, a lot more people are getting readings," he says.
Schilling attributes the gradual increase to wider awareness of ... something.
"There's a whole new energy coming into the universe right now," he says.
If you're looking for a local psychic, you don't have many obvious options. Of the dozen-plus phone book listings, many are 800 numbers with digital operators in far-flung states. They'll request a credit-card number before charging you $3.99 a minute. (Irene Hughes, who claims to be a Top 100 psychic, will put you in touch with one of her "gifted psychic advisors" for $2.79 a minute if you commit to 50 minutes, or $139.50.)
Apart from Celebration, Ruth Perez of Whispering Winds (which recently moved from Manitou Springs to 5150 N. Union Blvd.) is the only local psychic who returned my calls. She says her business is holding steady, though mostly with existing customers. She suggests keeping a positive attitude.
"If people can survive 2009," she says, "2010 looks OK."