I was walking around the annual Octoberfest festival when I stumbled over a tent peg and landed, butt first, in a pile of crisp, colorful leaves. There was a bit of good-natured snickering from the families that turned my way to see what all the commotion was about - adorable kids wearing cute knit caps peered at me around grand swaths of cotton candy, bored teenagers looked up briefly from their cell phones to take a picture of me before returning to their perennial state of disassociation and parents smiled and headed my way to help me up.
After getting up, giving my thanks to my rescuers and brushing the red and yellow leaves from my coat and pants a voice said, "I knew that was going to happen."
I turned and saw a pudgy, middle-aged lady wearing a robe with stars and moons on it. She had wonderfully elaborate rings on her fingers and was wearing an amulet with a long knife blade at the end of it around her neck.
"And you couldn't have told me ahead of time?"
She tapped a sign that stood outside her tent - the tent with the tent peg I tripped over - with intricately detailed calligraphy, the sign read: "Madame May's Mystical Ministrations - Futures Predicted, Dead Talked To".
I gave her a look of incomprehension. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and pointed at the bottom line.
"Yes," I protested, "but I didn't know you knew something would happen, right? I mean, isn't that more your field? Besides, it's already happened, why would I want to give you $20 now?"
She gave me a look while continuing to point to the part of her sign that read $20 and said, "Do you think it's maybe possible that there might be something else you may need to know?" She wiggled her eyebrows and nodded her head. I reached into my wallet, handed her a twenty, and followed her inside.
The tent was everything you'd expect - dark and musty, smell of burnt incense, skulls and strange symbols decorating the walls, and, of course, the requisite small table with big glass ball book-ended by two chairs.
She sat down, pointed to the opposite chair and started right in.
"I'm seeing someone...someone very dear to you...things are a bit fuzzy..."
"Oh, that must be my uncle Oris, he always had to shave twice a day."
She gave me another look and continued. "I think their name starts with an...M."
I shook my head.
"Things can be unclear sometimes...maybe it's an...R?"
I got up to leave and she grabbed my wrist. "I'm just joking. Sit down...sit down."
As I began to sit back down, she said, "You are going to trip over a tent pole."
Half sitting and half standing, I gaped at her.
"You are going to trip over a tent pole," she repeated.
"Are you serious?" I asked, my voice rising.
Calmly, she nodded her head.
"But I already did that!"
More head nodding.
"And you just charged me $20 to tell me that?"
"And you're not going to give me the twenty back, are you?"
A shake of the head.
I stormed out of the tent, looked at the tent pole I tripped over, headed the other way, tripped over another tent pole and landed, butt first, in another pile of leaves.
There was more good-natured laughter, more little kids with cotton candy, more teenagers taking cell phone pictures and more smiling parents offering to help me up.
As I brushed the leaves off me again I saw Madame May standing outside the tent holding a $20 in one hand and pointing to a sign on this side of her doorway. The sign read: "$20 To Predict Your Future, $40 To Tell You How To Change It".
She tipped me a wink and went back inside.
"Bitch," I murmured under my breath.
"I think you mean witch, dear," came the reply from the tent.