|Fortune-telling on Jackson Square|
Every year swarms of people hover around Jackson Square. Many of them come to visit the artists and musicians that have historically been part of the culture of New Orleans, the place that truly doesn't sleep, especially at important times, like jazz festival and Mardi Gras, when there is hardly a hotel around that has rooms available. Spring weather brings out the crowds, and around Jackson Square they roamed through the array of artists with paintings, musicians with trumpets and guitars, toe-tapping youngsters, and finally a choice of tarot card and palm readers.
New Orleans is magic, so if you are into the magic of believing here's a way of getting some without the lot of fuss or funds. A $10 or $20 "tip" is the likely cost of less than half an hour's take on who you are, where you are going, what your fortune will be and who might be the next love of your life. Fortune tellers are forbidden to actually charge a fee for their services, since the practice of telling fortunes isn't a licensed occupation in the State of Louisiana, especially for offering on the street. Therefore the practitioner will ask for a donation upfront and should explain that it's voluntary and the usual and customary practice.
Now you're ready for your own good time. Watch the fortune teller watch you and engage you in conversation. This is how someone gets body cues from face, tone and dress. Those who are good have literally seen you coming. A spring in the step added to a smile or two will bring an analysis of your bright, sunny personality and your positive future that is oriented around your positive thinking. Feel flattered and special? That's likely because the fortune teller knows just what to say to make you feel good.
Then there are the glittering generalities. How about this one, for example? "You are a person who doesn't like just routine things to see or do. You see some degree of challenge in your life either as a spectator or what you do or see. You enjoy people who are warm and compatible to your style of thinking, which is often open and accepting, although there are still areas where you need to improve. You are the kind of person who always strives to do the best you can do at anything you attempt. You have a passion for quality ideas, plans or people."
The fortune-teller watches the eyes, the face, the clothes and other behaviors of the person. These offer clues on how to proceed, to say more or say less, to smile, to shake the head or just move the session ahead to a close.
The above covers a lot of ground and is something the novice can learn. Tarot cards usually come with a set of instructions and if not a book on the subject can be found for not much money in the local bookstores that abound in the Quarter. But you can expect competition from men and women of different nationalities who have learned that a deck of cards, an earnest voice, the right things said in all the right ways can bring the money flowing.
Years ago, a Russian acquaintance told this journalist that during hard times in his country those who survived economic difficulties were the ones who sold bread, made shoes or told fortunes. If you aren't one of the former folk, then go get some cards and get yourself a new career.