For six years I have had an occupation at After Prom parties as Madame Tell- Al, the gypsy, pirate, whatever the after prom theme requires my heritage to be, soothsayer of the future. It is of course all fun and games lest we get too incited that this ol’ gal is practicing magic or something! I have played the character for five after proms at LBHS and just finished my first at James River High School where I was some what of an anomaly.
(For paparazzi photos from James River After Prom, click here.)
At LBHS, I had my own little cabana and had to make my own tent out of an umbrella and shower curtains this year. (Hurrah for Big Lots!) For the latest gig, Knights around the World, I decided to be a traveling soothsayer going across Africa –Botswana to be exact– since my latest television craze HBO’s, “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” is set there.
I tell fortunes with a large “cootie catcher” fortune teller made of shiny paper designed by my eldest daughter Brittany or a deck of playing cards. My mother and grandmother have turned over in their graves over that deck of cards. While the cootie catcher is funny and delights, my grandmother wouldn’t mind, but they would nash their teeth over the deck of cards.
Sometime long ago in the early 20th century up in Floyd County there lived a woman who told fortunes on her front porch on Sunday afternoons. She used a deck of playing cards. That went over with the Sunday school teachers and preachers like a lead balloon making her notorious in the area. My grandmother as good of a Methodist that ever darkened the door of a church was not amused by those practices. A good Franklin county girl, she attributed it to the backward nature of my grandfather’s home county and to none other than Beezulbub himself as master of trickery and black arts. My mother, a Sunday school teacher as a young woman, inherited her distrust of fortune tellers from my grandmother.
While I have done my research on fortune telling with cards, I think she had that all mixed up with Tarot cards. After all, other than millions of dollars lost on gambling each year, what possible harm could come from a deck of playing cards? It’s all for fun– I have no more idea other than probability what the odds are in pulling certain cards, but I have a little act. Like a sideshow. The kids all 68 of them who had their fortunes told on Saturday night should certainly regard it as a moment of theatre from an old dame who loved to get both her mother and her grandmother stirred up on occassion during her childhood.
In my future I see more After Prom after all the baby is only 12 the next birthday. My prediction is sleepless overnights in my coming years! But all of those young folks will be told they have a bright and happy future ahead and that is my fondest wish for all of them!