When the man groaned, I thought he was reading the obituary section of the paper and had found some tragic news there. When he began to curse, my curiosity became too strong and I had to find out what was wrong so I asked him: “Whatsamatter?”
“My horoscope. It says: ‘You are not likely to perform well those tasks you find distasteful tomorrow. It might be wiser to postpone them until you are in a better frame of mind.’ I’m supposed to be in divorce court tomorrow. Oh no!”
He fumbled about in his jacket pocket, extracted a cell phone and walked away from the bar stabbing furiously at dial buttons.
Another customer snorted in disgust. “Look at him, the superstitious fool. Changing his plans because of that astrology garbage. I thought only gullible weirdoes like the Reagans believed that garbage.”
I retrieved the discarded newspaper and ordered a beer. “What’s your sign?” I asked the bartender as he brought me a cold, foamy mug of beer.
“Taurus,” he answered while wiping a stubborn lipstick smear from a glass. “Don’t tell me you believe that junk?”
“Taurus. It says: ‘You tend to depend too heavily on chance and luck to get you over the rough spots. Try being more practical and down to earth.”
“See? It goes to show what a pile of crap that stuff is. It makes me sound like a riverboat gambler. I don’t even buy lottery tickets.”
He fumbled the glass and made a desperate grab for it. He nearly caught it before he knocked it careening into the back bar where it cracked a mirror.
“Yeeoow!” he bellowed. “Now look what I’ve done! Seven years of bad luck to look forward to.”
“It’s only a little crack,” a fat man deadpanned. “Maybe you’ll get off with three-to-five.”
“What’s your sign?” I asked him.
“I don’t believe any of that trash,” he growled.
“C’mon. Be a sport,” I chided.
He hesitated, then said, “Leo.”
“Leo. It says: ‘You are shrewd and calculating and a formidable business adversary. You should guard against being too cold, unfeeling and cruel.”
“See? What rubbish! I told you that stuff was a crock. Gimme another Bud, barkeep.”
The bartender drew a loud hiss and a glass of foam out of the tapper. “Woah, we’re out of Bud. How ’bout a glass of Michelob until I get a new keg in?”
“A man outta be able to get his own brand around here. I got a good mind to tell the boss. Maybe I’ll tell him how you were screwin’ around and broke that mirror, too.”
“…C’mon, man. I need this job. I got a wife and baby and I’m trying to work my way through school.”
“You shoulda thought about that before you let the keg run dry and broke that mirror. If you got a wife and kid, you outta get yourself a real job instead of playin’ around in college.”
“Lay off the kid,” another man piped up. “He don’t mean nothin’.”
“What’s your sign?” I asked, hoping to diffuse the situation.
“Cancer,” he replied, eagerly taking my cue.
“Cancer, huh? Hmmm… lessee, it says: ‘You sometimes pretend to be knowledgeable about subjects which you really aren’t. Memory exercises would help your forgetfulness.”
“You see? Now that proves how wrong that baloney is. Those newspaper horoscopes are just made up by some two-bit writer. The real astrologers consult NASA for planetary positions and plot their movements on a graph to determine tidal pull. The tidal pull tells us what people are gonna do because we’re all actually 99% water. They can predict what’s gonna happen to you by keepin’ an eye on what direction your water is being yanked.”
Everyone stifled a laugh and I asked him: “Why would they want to plot them on a graph?”
“…Why would who plot what on a graph?”
The man who made the phone call returned. I gave him back his newspaper.
“There,” he sighed. “Now I’ve managed to postpone my court date. I changed all my other appointments for tomorrow as well. It peeved everybody but I told ’em I had a death in the family and had to leave town.”
The bartender shook his head. “I don’t know about you, man. How can you run your life around a bunch of superstitious hogwash?”
“What’ve you got there?” the man asked, pointing to something fuzzy in the bartender’s hand.
“Rabbit’s foot. I’ve had it for years. It’s my good luck charm.”
“What do you need to rub a rabbit’s foot for?” Cancer asked.
“Because I just broke that mirror, you rube. Can’t you remember?”
“Hey, pipe down or I’ll rat on you to your boss and have you fired,” Leo barked, shaking a threatening finger at him.
Leo snatched the paper and asked me, “What’s your sign?”
“Libra…” I told him.
“Lessee… Libra. It says: ‘It might seem like the harder you try to please others, the less you are appreciated. You should mind your own business.”
“AMEN,” the others added in unison.
It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious.