The letter request:
My boyfriend’s housemate is only nice to me if she wants something. In the 18 months I’ve known her she’s been nice twice. I’m currently working in Colombia and she sent me a lengthy message (first in four months since I’ve been away) kissing my ass and asking me to bring her macramé string because it’s cheaper in South America.
While I’m not personally one for mysticism, there are many people who claim that they can see into the future. There’s that old guy at the Sunday market who reads palms behind a curtain of red velour; that friend from school who, after a few wines, invariably pulls out a deck of Aleister Crowley tarot cards; phone lines where a mere $18.99 will score you half an hour of banter with a ‘qualified’ psychic and, if all else fails, there are horoscopes in every newspaper ever printed. You must be kicking yourself now. Why didn’t you think of this abundance of clairvoyance at your fingertips?
A palm reader might have traced the deep groove at the base of your left thumb and advised, ‘Be nice to your housemate’s girlfriend – one day you’ll need a favour from her.’ A tarot reader might have tapped meaningfully on the Queen of Pentacles and cautioned, ‘This one here represents a powerful woman in your future. She is someone who is often present in your life – stop being unpleasant to her.’ The tele-psychic might have observed, ‘You’re crafty, and macramé pot-plant holders will soon be back in fashion. You should get on board.’ And your horoscope might have read, ‘Someone you know will travel to South America and she can probably get you some macramé string at half the going price – but only if you stop acting like an insolent teenager.’
Just think how differently things would’ve played out if you’d known 18 months ago that I would one day come in handy. Think how differently you could’ve played your cards. Instead of being rude and obnoxious you could’ve been friendly and kind. When your cat accidentally escaped the house and I tried but failed to retrieve it, you could’ve not grunted at me and slammed the door in my face. You could have offered the occasional interested question about my day or a benign comment on the weather. If you’d inched slightly towards camaraderie and edged a little away from hostility, your recent message and request would have seemed more genuine. I would’ve happily helped you out.
But, as it stands, if I find myself wandering down a Columbian street and free macramé string starts to fall from the trees, I’ll just keep on walking.