Sally Sheklow

Good Fortune

In my effort to piece together a living as a lesbian humor columnist, I pick up odd jobs. I mean really odd. I’ve been paid to castrate calves, uproot ivy, and haul five-year olds to kindergarten. So taking a gig as a fortune teller at a company office party was not that out of character.

Contessa VanessaDecked out in borrowed frouf and bling, I worked my way through the festive throng to my designated fortune-telling table. This was definitely not your L-word kind of crowd—my gaydar flatlined. I had to wedge between and around these people on my trek to the far corner of the hotel banquet room. Luckily, they were distracted by a barbershop quartet and the open bar. I laid out my moons and stars table cloth, half-dozen candles and my home-made sign, Contessa Vanessa, faux fortune teller.

I don’t know a thing about fortune telling. The talent agent who hired me talked me into it. “Just dress up, fake a Bela Lugosi accent, and improvise,” She’d said. “They’ll love you.”

I wasn’t so sure. Pretending to be a fortune teller I could probably do, but disguising my famous dyke-about-town face? If anyone recognized me my cover would be seriously blown.

I’d outlined my eyes almost as black as Shane’s and darkened my already somewhat bushy eyebrows. Topped off with a black Elvira wig, hoop earrings and strands of mardi-gras beads, could I pass?

A hired magician took the stage. He linked and unlinked steel rings for the now fairly soused crowd who oohed and ahhed at every trick. Gullible bunch. I’d probably be fine. I lit my candles and pretended to slip into a trance.

There was already a long line waiting to get their fortunes told. Mary, the CEO who’d hired me, was my first customer. I had to make a good impression. “Velcome. Vaht vould you like to ahsk de Contessa?” I should definitely have practiced my Bela Lugosi impression before now. I sounded more like a cross between my yiddish-speaking grandmother and Carlos Mantelban. It would have to do.

Mary’s earnest eyes looked into mine. “Will things improve for me?”

I took her hand—expensive bracelet, dangerously long nails, no wedding ring. I was tempted to suggest she get closer to the women in her life, but I was here to entertain, not recruit. I ran my finger over her palm’s converging lines. “Tings vill come togezzer for you.” The talent agent was charging Mary a substantial fee for my services, so I added, “Contessa see you a vize voman. You make-a da good choizes.” Now I sounded like Chico Marx, but Mary didn’t seem to mind.
I had thirty more fortunes to tell that night. I might as use my disguise to dole out some happiness. “Every-ting fo’ you gonna be okay,” I told Mary. Who cares if my accent had morphed into Alex Borstein’s Miss Swan?

Mary smiled. She squeezed my hands and thanked me. “You’re doing a wonderful job.”

Maybe Mary was in disguise, too.

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