Crystal, cake, and crisis
As far as bizarre days go, this past Tuesday takes the cake.
Cake. This will figure in later, I promise.
Tuesday started when I broke my roommate’s special crystal.
You know, the crystal that she keeps in the bathroom. What, you say your roommate doesn’t keep crystals in the bathroom?
Normally The Roomie would still be sleeping, but this was one of those rare mornings when she was up and rolling around on the living room floor in time to Britney Spears. She took the news in stride, funneling even the tiniest of pieces into a jar. I had always wondered why this object chose the bathroom as its hang out spot, and decided to ask what the heck it was. “It’s for my skin,” she replied.
Still pondered the crystal, I arrived to a meeting with the school secretary/bilingual coordinator. He immediately asked if I’d seen the news about how the big cheese of Bankia, a major Spanish bank, had stepped down from his post. “The Comunidad de Madrid may need to make a decision about if they want to help the bank,” he explained. The secretary then asked me which bank I used. While I keep my money in Santander, the school funds come from Caja Madrid. Caja Madrid, FYI, just so happens to be linked with Bankia. Had I cashed my check for April yet?, he asked. If not, I should do it ASAP as Caja Madrid might not have the money to pay me in a few days.
A few hours later the French department’s annual concurso de tartas temporarily pushed thoughts of ”Oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-the-bank-right-after-school” from my mind. Last year I was a judge in the cake contest, which tallied taste as well as looks. I was quite happy that I’d said “no” to being a Dessert Referee; this time there were at least 20 cakes, and judges must try every one. With so many sweets, the other staff members were invited to take up a plate and fork while the official judges turned green from the sugar surge. Like last year, a yellow disk with no distinguishable features was getting rave reviews. If I had been a judge, I would have given high marks to the clever youngster who drizzled “Bon Appétit” on their otherwise plain creation.
The cake competition, as out-of-the-ordinary as it was, did not mark the end of the day’s strange events. Coffee in hand, I stood around chatting with a few teachers who, like me, had no particular place to be. When a pleasant silence settled over us, one of my co-teachers unfastened her necklace and dangled it in the air. The end was heavy with some object not unlike a crystal.
The teacher explained that if the pendant swung in a straight line across one’s palm, it indicated that the person attached to the palm would have a baby boy. If the pendant looped into a circle, it meant a girl. She explained all this with a straight face, and enthusiastically claimed that the method had been spot-on about her two children. The fortune-teller was now looking for her next victim, and gamely grabbed my wrist.
The pendant swung back and forth so long I went cross-eyed trying to decipher line-versus-circle. A third party was called in to make a decision; line. The necklace was stilled and lowered again. This second time it was unmistakeably a line. The next time the pendant came down, it made no movement at all. You’re going to have dos chicos! my colleague explained.
Right. I wanted to see this pendant in action again, this time with someone who already had kids. The teacher dangled the pendant over the palm of J, the gardener/doorman/photocopier who has 6 children. It seemed to take forever for the reading to work, and when it did the verdict said that J should have 7 children. “Did you have a daughter before your last two children were born?” our colleague asked. A bit startled, J explained that his wife had had a miscarriage at that time.
The pendant game a funny distraction, I set my mind on more serious matters. It had been a strange day, but in the end I don’t think I harmed my karma too terribly much by breaking the rommie’s crystal. She later installed a new one in the bathroom, Caja Madrid was able to cash my check, and I’ve hit my fortune-telling quota for the year. Crises averted!