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Psychic Finders And Losers

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

"Listen, I don't need a whole psychic reading," a guy tells me over the phone. "I just want you to find my Lindeberg Coleman twill trench coat. It's grey stone with a four-button front, buckle detail at the cuffs, and a single back vent."

From the detail he's going into, I'm thinking he's been watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. "Sorry, I'm not a psychic finder."

"Could you recommend me to a psychic who is?" he asks.

"Hold on," I say. I flip through my Rolodex, but the listing for Psychic Finder isn't there. Either I misfiled it or threw it away the last time I knocked my Rolodex over. "I seem to have misplaced it," I say sheepishly.

"Figures," he mutters and hangs up.

I feel my face flame. I want to be able to find things. Just this morning I couldn't find my keys. Soon as I found them, I had to go all over the apartment to track down my pocketbook. And then it was the same thing with my boots.

I might have been a "finder" instead of a "loser," but my father, having barely escaped tsarist Russia, saw a pogrom at every turn. If something was misplaced it meant that we wouldn't be able to take it with us if the Cossacks thundered into Rockaway Beach, Queens on their horses. His panic made me panic and the more upset I got, the more things I lost.

It's enough already, I tell myself. I take something I'm forever misplacing - my red digital timer. I study it, its color, size, and even the temperature.

"Bernie," I say to my husband, "would you hide the timer for me while I step out in the hall?"

"I never know what I'm going to be coming home to," he said, smiling.

When he waves me back in, I close my eyes and mentally go from room to room as if my mind is a movie camera. Then it stops at my daughter's old bedroom and zooms in on her bed. I've got it, I think. I go straight to her room, pick up her pillow, take off the comforter, and even strip off the sheet. No timer. I look under the bed. Dust bunnies. I'm about to give up when I see it behind her lamp on the headboard.

Spurred on, I practice three times a night for six weeks. One night, instead of mentally groping around for it, I go right to my underwear drawer, and tada, there it is!

"I did it!" I tell my husband, and he gives me a big hug.

The next night, my neighbor rings my bell, teary-eyed. "I misplaced a small yellow silk pouch that I keep my grandmother's engagement ring in. Can you find it psychically?"

Full of confidence, I close my eyes. All I see is bright green. I focus harder.

"The pouch is with or behind something that's bright green, shiny, and has some print on it."

Laughing, she takes me into her apartment. It's all done in green. At least I provided her with comic relief.

As she closes the door behind me, I hear her husband say, "That's what you get for asking a psychic."

I'm bummed, but I keep practicing. Maybe I will only be able to find my red digital timer in my own apartment, but it's a start.

A week later, my neighbor rings my doorbell and holds out a wrapped gift. "Thank you," she says.

"For what?"

"You said it was behind something shiny and green with print on it. I found it behind a box of Cascade Dishwasher detergent. The grandkids must have been playing with it."

"But I didn't really find it," I say. "I mean I didn't locate where it was exactly."

"Yeah, but because of what you said, I got such an extra kick when I found it."

I open the gift. It's another digital timer. Now I get a chance to laugh. At least I have a backup if I lose mine.

Whether you believe in psi phenomenon or not, it's really fun to try to locate objects psychically. Who knows? You might find your college ring or the five hundred dollar bite plate your dentist made for you so that you don't grind your teeth.

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