MAD DOG: Cleaning The House Of Jupiter

Tarot cards hate me. At the very least they don't understand me. This puts them in the same category as ex-girlfriends, ex-girlfriends' husbands when the ex-girlfriends call to see if I've found any direction to my life yet, and cats that finally realize I'm not playing with them when I pluck them out of my lap and drop them on the floor for the fourteenth time in twenty seconds.

Actually, I've only had two close encounters of the tarot kind in my life, and while that may seem to be a limited number of experiences by which to judge, I've had an equal number of run-ins with car accidents, offers of eggs and brains for breakfast, and opera, and I know I don't want to have anything to do with them again either.

I lost my tarot virginity to a young lady whose cards continually told her she was going to have a golden life of fame, fortune and incredible luck. Those same cards told me to write my will as soon as possible. This is perfectly understandable since A) tarot cards were first used for divination in France where they think saying things like this are funny, though not as funny as Jerry Lewis; B) my lady friend cared for, fed and shuffled the cards daily while I merely played Go Fish with them, throwing them to the floor in frustration as no two cards ever matched; and C) they hate me.

The second rendezvous with my tarot destiny occurred at a local Indian festival when a very un-Indian woman with a strong New York accent shuffled, dealt and pondered the cardboards of fate for several long minutes. Finally she scrunched up her face, looked at me quizzically, and muttered, "What the hell?!" Actually, she didn't use the word hell, but I have to be careful as there may be children reading this who are searching for any use of the word suck, even if it appears in an article about vacuum cleaner lint sculptures.

But it's not just tarot cards that are the problem. I don't think any form of divination this side of free-range organically grown chicken entrails likes me. Being a red-blooded, patriotic American, I make it a point to read my horoscope every morning, right after checking the winning lottery numbers even though I never buy a ticket, the less than contrite corrections on the bottom of page two, and Family Circus, where children never age or learn anything. And yes, every year I cut out the "If Today Is Your Birthday" twenty-five-words-or-less encapsulation of my personality and tape it to the wall so the next year I can fondly remember that November (when my car needed to have the transmission rebuilt, I got the flu three times, and my dog would have died had I owned one) was "your kind of month."

But I must give credit where credit's due -- my horoscope has been correct three times in the past sixteen years, though I'm hard pressed to think a forecast like "you'll live to see nightfall" is cause for celebration. According to my morning horoscope fix I'm supposed to have good business days on Sunday, romantic flings when I'm going to visit a monastery, and domestic tranquility when I haven't had a date in months. Okay, maybe there is something to the last one.

But lately there's been another, bigger, problem. Five weeks ago everything that could be right in my life was. I was walking up to people on the street whom I'd never met, telling them how incredible life could be. They, of course, offered to buy flowers and incense from me. I guess it could have been a good day for business had my horoscope predicted it. Then everything went into limbo. Life was on hold. After whimpering -- I mean, mentioning it -- to a few friends, I discovered that this generalized lacking wasn't confined to me. It was universal, if in fact three people in agreement can be considered universal. Everyone had gone into a sucky phase, to use a word impressionable young minds have been hoping I’d say.

"A bunch of planets just went into Scorpio," a friend cheerfully explained, as if that was a more appropriate answer than "fire gods angry."

From my limited knowledge of astrology [insert your favorite Uranus joke here] I've figured out that Neptune, Pluto and Jupiter do nothing but cause trouble. And, of course, allow NASA to exist, without which we wouldn't have such marvels as Tang, car polishes based on space-age polymers, and former Senator John Glenn. So what I figured out was, if they're all that much trouble, why don't we just eliminate them? Not Tang, car polishes based on space-age polymers, and John Glenn, I'm talking about Neptune, Pluto and Jupiter.

All we'd have to do is send up a few rockets armed with the nuclear warheads we don’t want other countries to have and blast the suckers into cosmic lint. Then they couldn't gang up on poor Scorpio again, which aside from gaining Scorpio's undying gratitude, would mean we'd have no more negative interplanetary influences. Hence, heaven on Earth. Best of all, this Intergalactic hysterectomy would have a number of positive side effects, including no more PMS (Planetary Mood Swings), never having to go through supernova hot flashes, and finally, an end to those unsightly celestial zits. And since life would always be wonderful, there would be no need to ever read your horoscope again, giving you plenty of time to figure out the Family Circus anti-aging secret, package it, sell it to AARP, and live happily ever after. For a long, long time.

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