Ominatio (o-mi-na’-ti-o): A prophecy of evil.
I’ve been a prophet ever since I predicted the New York Mets’ first win on April 23, 1962. I prophesied that the Mets would “lash the Padres with whips of hits and drown them in the tobacco juice of victory.” Given that the Mets were serial losers at the time, the odds were right and my bet with Bobby the Book won a fortune. Since then, I’ve been a weatherman on local TV here in Queens. I am “Moe the Weather Prophet.” I have never been wrong about the weather—never! Well, almost never—“Billion Dollar Betsy” back in the sixties caught me with my pants down—literally. I was working overtime up in Jersey City, doing consulting with my two favorite secretaries, and missed all the hurricane warnings. We were pumping quarters into the vibrating bed, drinking vodka and practicing our trio trampoline act. The impending storm was the farthest thing from our thoughts at the time. Like I said, we were oblivious, consulting each other passionately as we played Twister on the bed.
Thank God those days are over. With all the weather technology, weather forecasting is a snap. In fact, it is such a snap that it has become boring. I’ve decided to get out of the weather business and into the “whether” business— making predictions about whether or what: whether something will happen and what it will be. So, I want to upgrade from prophet to shaman. This will involve traveling to a remote location in a jungle somewhere. At least, that’s what I thought. I had mentioned my desire to upgrade to shaman on my weather show. Of all the calls I got, one stood out.
The guy had a thick New Orleans accent—you know—the one that sounds like Brooklyn, New York. He told me his name is Jacques LaCreme. He said he specialized in voodoo, but would veer off into “shamanizing” if the price was right. I told him the price would be right. We agreed on the price, and I took off for New Orleans the next day. Like an idiot, I didn’t check him out, but I saw no reason to doubt him. I worried a little bit and then fell asleep on the plane. I dreamed I was in the sky, jumping from cloud to cloud. If I missed a cloud, I would fall thousands of feet. I missed. I was terrified. Jacques’s disembodied voice said: “Your plane crashing. Tighten your seatbelt and put your head between your knees.” I woke up sweating. Everything was fine. It was only a dream.
I met Jacques at the airport and we took a cab to his “place.” His place was filled with weird stuff—there was a large tortoise on the carpet with his neck sticking out, a jar full of eyeballs, a small pile of human skulls, a large calendar, and more. He gave me some herbal tea in a bamboo cup. It was called Mesca-Cola. I saw myself as an old man. I had chopsticks sticking out of my ears and a box of Cohibas resting on my chest. The cigars were snake-like and one slithered up between my lips. A nurse lit it and I lay there puffing. Reality reappeared slowly. I yelled “Am I a shaman yet?” Jacques laughed: “No. But you have experienced the altered state of consciousness necessary to imagine almost anything. That is the key. Your shaman responsibilities are not predictive. Rather, they are advisory.” That was a relief to hear. He went on: “You drink the “Mesca-Cola,” you have the vision. Then, you interpret it in accord with the client’s question. So, you need to develop critical interpretive skills, like those of literary or theatre critics, knitting your vision together with your client’s question, like the critic does with a story or a script.”
Wow. This was a lot to think about. I decided to enroll in an on-line creative writing program. There’s a course I’m especially interested in: “Shams, Shamans, and Socrates: Simulacra and Post-Fictional Foundational Narratives.” Sometimes I think I should’ve stuck with the weather. While the high of Mesca-Cola is breathtaking, the high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit seems more real, more tangible. Sometimes we need that, or maybe not.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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