OK, out of context, this may not be as funny as it was at the time, I admit. It was a relief, too. My friend Thalassa has had too many hits on the not-funny side of life lately. The fact that she can determine that my character is in need of removal from the room to a sunnier spot where I can do less harm is, to my mind, a spark of hope in an otherwise bleak few weeks of stunning losses of dear ones to her. Her humor here is no sign of disrespect. It’s a spark of sanity that she will be OK, at least in time, in spite of Death’s calling card too near. My friend needs hugs and laughs and adorable pictures of creatures with cute little nosies and a little sunshine. My friend needs a break from people dying and the job market being the pits.
In our Salon of, well, I was going to say misfits, but everyone there is “properly placed in their present position,” a term I used to snark at when used in corporate performance reviews, we have fun. It’s a group of friends who are tarot readers. We like to have fun and even though we consider our studies, our reading, our interests and our businesses in tarot serious stuff, we poke fun at taking things too seriously without poking fun at any person or organization specifically.
In our Salon, we are devotees of divination, which isn’t a joke since we actually are, but in the Salon we are perhaps over the top in tradition, ritual, magical properties, heritage and, in the latest turn of fun, the newly revealed never-before seen photographic evidence of the extended fictional family purported to be the foundation of our fervent “secret society.” After all, if you talk about it on Facebook, it’s not much of a secret, right?
In our imaginary Salon, we have celebrations that go on for too long, toasts that leave the revelers toasted, old scandals hinted at, new scandals barely avoided. Or not. It’s one of my few forays at role-playing because I’ve never been into the chat room alter ego before.
With all characters there in some basis ourselves with a twist, I play some version of myself mixed with my first piano teacher Mrs. T and a lovely optimistic version of Miss Havisham I met when I was a child accompanying my mother on a hunt for antiques for her shop. Add gin, and serve. I don’t disguise my real name although lots of people do in the magical world of the internet. I’m just me, well, sort of, and all these other people a bit too.
Mrs. T wore sweeping jersey shirtwaist dresses cut on the bias, an easy-breathing, swirl of print fabric over a generous frame. She had a voice something like Meryl Streep’s version of Julia Child and towered over me as I once again proved I had not practiced my piano lessons for the week. Mrs. T liked all her students to have an annual recital and dress in costume for the show. I loved my costumes, one in particular was a long brown dress, cap and apron that harkened of Pilgrims and Thanksgiving turkeys. The piano playing was the turkey for me and I learned that my particular form of stage fright occurs after I’ve gutted it out through the ordeal, curtseyed and strutted offstage, only to faint dead away backstage. The show must go on, after all. Mrs. T’s world was just a little fluffier and more floral than the real world and I suspect she tippled a bit after a long day of piano lessons with truculent brats. I was never sure I liked her, but I was pretty sure she did not want me to know who she really was either. I was a job to be done, however grudgingly. The jersey print dresses were rather dreadful. It all added to the ambiance. The key to Mrs. T for me was the swirl of the skirt and the dogged way she stuck to her idea of appearances and the show going on.
Miss Day was my happy, not spiteful, Miss Havisham. She lived in a world that was dusty, old, preserved and not quite decaying. What once had been splendor had turned into something more like the asylum walls. Every possible surface within her vast apartments was encrusted with Cracker Jack toys set in some hardened matrix. It was like a LegoLand of little bits of childhood forever frozen and covered in draping strings of dust. It was wonderland. Miss Day was what we might characterize now as being a little “out of it.” I think that’s a little unfair. I think she was so “into it” that she never quite came out again. She was gracious and airy, with effortless Victorian and Southern manners. We drank tea in porcelain cups set on a shadowbox table full of tiny toys, perched on worn velvet and horsehair fainting couches, loveseats and chairs. It was the kind of place you were meant to wear gloves to and yet, due to the dust, you’d take your gloves off at once to save them.
Miss Day was charming. She had a high melodic voice that drifted off into reverie so that Mother had to reel her back in every so often. She wistfully showed us a framed remembrance of her family, an intricate braided design made of her mother’s, her sisters’ and her aunt’s hair in all the family colors, light and darker and a little red thrown in. It was gruesome fairyland, these strands of lost loved ones, memento mori.
And so I have, and I present to you my latest deck of cards, not a tarot this time but a relative oracle deck called The Dust Bunny Lenormand, a 36 card deck of gently humorous Victorian images, now available for $20 plus postage. When the scraps of this world may not seem to make sense, it can be in the least likely places we find insight. Let our tired minds and hearts rest from the effort to make patterns of the pieces of our lives, rest and come back to love another day.
*Contact me via email if you are interested in obtaining a copy of The Dust Bunny Lenormand. Gin not included.