You Were: The Fortune Teller
June 23, 2010
(Who Were You #4)
In all of your lives, you’ve possessed a special gift. I won’t go so far as to call it ESP. Perhaps it’s just an extra helping of women’s intuition. In any case, you’re usually the first to know when something isn’t quite right. And you have a way of seeing truths that others would prefer to ignore. Unfortunately, you’ve often had trouble convincing ordinary folks to heed your advice.
Take, for example, the life we’ll highlight today. You were the least successful “Gypsy” fortune teller in 1920s Naples, Florida. (You were also the only one with real Romani blood. The rest were walking stereotypes and insults.) Your fellow prognosticators were all conwomen and hucksters who scammed any person who walked through their doors. They convinced some clients they were dying and told others their spouses were cheating. Whatever the problem, the only solution was always the fortune teller’s overpriced advice.
Your approach, on the other hand, was honest to a fault. “You’re not sick,” you were happy to tell clients. “You consume too much cake/gin/radium toothpaste. Stop and you’ll feel better.” Or “Your wife isn’t cheating on you. She stays out all night because you work for an undertaker and you refuse to take a bath before you go to bed.” As you might imagine, most of your clients found the truth less pleasant than their suspicions, and they never came back to see you again.
One afternoon, two wealthy real estate investors popped into your little booth on the boardwalk. They had been celebrating a new deal, and they were both three sheets to the wind. They wanted you to gaze into the future and tell them if their latest venture—an alligator theme park in the Everglades would be a success.
“Two hard-drinking city types like you are bound to get eaten in the Everglades,” you told them.
And so they were.
The widow of one of the investors came to see you after her husband’s death. She was suddenly in charge of his fortune, and she knew someone with ESP/common sense would be the perfect business partner. Together, you took over the half-built alligator theme park and turned it into the center of one of the largest (and most eco-friendly) real estate empires in south Florida.
In your free time, you farmed snakes (you lived to the age of 101 and credited your longevity to the drop of snake venom you always added to your morning coffee). But you’re probably best remembered for penning the successful syndicated advice column Madame Ruby Predicts.