My Fortune in Your Language

Never go to a fortune teller in a language you don’t understand, especially if accompanied by your girlfriend, who does. Especially if the fortune teller knows what she’s talking about. This is a valuable, yet, bitter lesson I learned outside a Buddhist temple in Busan, Korea. Fortune tellers are 10 won a dozen outside temples in Korea. I’d never been to one, though I’d seen many. With Young Sue, I thought it would be fun at ten thousand won a throw.

The fortune teller did me first. She sat across from us at a table, with a big book in front of her. She spoke to me in Korean. Young Sue translated. “She’s asking your birthday.” Young Sue would be the go-between bridging my English with the fortune teller’s Korean. The fortune teller bowed her head to the book and proceeded to read off over five minutes worth of information about my future. When she finished reading, I asked Young Sue what she had said.

“She says you’re going to be rich.”

I wait for more. Young Sue looks at me, smiles. “And…” I prompt.

“And, that’s about it.” Young Sue shrugs. Worst translation ever.

“Ask her how long I live.”

Young Sue confers with the fortune teller. “Eighty-seven.”

“Really? Well, a guy in India said eighty-nine, so tell her she’s off by two. Why don’t you go?”

“Ok,” Young Sue tells the fortune teller her birthday setting the fortune teller to look up then read her fortune. Young Sue goes from sitting up, hands folded beautifully in her lap, to sinking deeper and deeper into her chair. It is obvious that the fortune teller has hit a nerve. Young Sue is close to crying. She gets up, slowly, painfully, and walks from the fortune teller’s table. I follow.

“Are you ok?” I ask, wrapping my arm around my girlfriend.

“She knows me. She knows me.” Young Sue is deeply disturbed by this.

“What did she say?”

“I can’t tell you. Not now. But, she knows me.”

That was the first time she hurt me. It wouldn’t be the last. She broke up with me a couple weeks later. Do you know how much of a kick to the ego it is to get broken up with by a woman who knows more about you than you do? Like, Young Sue had a chance to look into the future and see what I am going to become and say, “No thanks.”

Young Sue, if you’re reading this, please, it’s been ten years, give me something. What else did the woman say? Did she perhaps mention how I’m going to be rich?

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