"Dear Alex's Hair," an email I recently received began. "I've had a hard time keeping my head in the game lately. Can you give me a horoscope based on the upcoming alignment of Saturn, Mercury and Venus so I know if things will improve?"
Ever since I revealed my hair is now clairvoyant due to its near-death experience, I've been receiving unusual email messages.
I consulted my hair (using an arcane method that involves rubbing a balloon back and forth vigorously across my bangs, then passing it slowly over my head and examining the result in a mirror) and wrote back.
"No. Saturn, Mercury and Venus have nothing to do with how your week is going. Your horoscope is based off planet HD 149026b, only recently discovered by science. Your planet takes three days to circle its star, has a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and a solid core that's about 70 times Earth's mass. My hair says that means you need to slow down and relax in the swimming pool with a cool drink or you're going to give yourself a stroke. Or maybe just break out in pimples. Oh, my hair also says that solid core indicates you need to lose some weight and if you really want to know where your head is at, try examining Uranus."
Astrology is total bunk. Determining the future based on the positions of stuff you see in the night sky? Get real. If that worked, CNN would publish indexes of stock performance based on the cycles of the moon and the Weather Channel would have robed druids explaining star charts for major cities ten minutes after the hour every hour.
"I don't know," said a friend of mine in response to my scoffing. "It takes Saturn 28 years to circle your astrological charts and return to the position it was when you were born. When it does, it puts you back on whatever course you were destined to be on since birth, which can be chaotic if you got too far off your intended track. Think about all the people we knew in high school and what happened to them right around 30 years old. Radical changes, every single one."
"That's called growing up and getting too fat to date casually. Your metabolism slows down and you're forced to develop a personality unless you want to spend Friday nights alone for the rest of your life. If you're already married, you either get divorced or get fat and grow personalities together."
"It's not about the fat. It's called Saturn's Return. And I'd be careful during that alignment of Saturn, Mercury and Venus if I were you."
"It's been all about the fat since ancient Egypt when a bunch of pudgy astrologers convinced the Pharoah to build the pyramids as giant conversation pieces for picking up Mesopotamian chicks."
We agreed to disagree and said goodbye. But the night when the trio of planets were due to be at their closest, a series of strange events happened. My fishpond developed a leak. My daughter suddenly refused to wear diapers. The power cord on my computer developed a glitch. I spent the entire day scooping dead fish, scrubbing the carpet, and blew an important deadline because my computer fried half a project's worth of data. Furthermore, it was too hot to sleep comfortably.
Not wanting to wake everyone by rummaging for my swimsuit, I snuck out into the pool for a quick skinny dip.
The patio and water looked beautiful in the moonlight. The stars overhead were like jewels in black velvet. The day's stress radiated off me like heat into the cold water, dissipating. I slipped out, marveling at the transcendental quality of the experience.
What a beautiful moment. No odd-ball alignment of planets could take this away from me.
As I opened the door to go in, the cat darted out.
As I bent to catch him, my towel gapped open. He puffed his tail at the sight and ran. For the next fifteen minutes, any neighborhood insomniacs were entertained by the antics of a plump nekkid woman cursing and clutching a towel as she chased a cat around the back yard. Whoa, Nelly! It was possibly as graceful as watching a truckload of pigs being herded into a chute.
Cat and towl firmly in hand, I finally made it back inside, pausing in the doorway to glare at the stars.
I think I saw Orion grin and flip me off.
This article first appeared in the July 3, 2005 edition of the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.