The Strange Knowledge of Strangers
Sometimes conversations with strangers can be intriguing—even a little mystical.
Tim and I took Honey to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner the other night, the kind that has tables on the sidewalk.
A few minutes after we got there, an older couple sat at the table right behind us. As often happens, they noticed Honey and asked a few questions about her. Then the woman asked, “Did she come from a foreign country?”
The question took me aback. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but people often ask about her breed, as she is a little unusual looking. I said “No, but she’s half Chinese Shar-pei.”
“She has such soulful eyes,” the woman said. I happen to think she does, too, so the comment made me happy.
A little later the woman asked us, “Does either of you speak a foreign language?”
Tim and I looked at each other. Did she think there was something foreign about us, as well as about Honey? No, we said.
“Do you know what gamache means?”
Neither of us did. Tim tried asking “Siri” on his cell phone and came up with “come mosh.” The woman and her husband fell to talking in low voices for a while.
Then Honey drew her attention again. “She has medieval eyes.”
Medieval eyes? I liked the idea, but this was beginning to get strange.
Just as we were finishing our meal the woman turned to us again. “I have to ask you this: Do you two drink coffee?”
We don’t; we’re tea drinkers. No, we said.
She turned toward her husband. “See, I told you.”
We were both having cold drinks. The waitress hadn’t asked us if we wanted coffee. “How did you know?” I asked.
She nodded toward Honey. “She told me.”
Now I was feeling creepy. Was she making a joke? Did she really believe our dog had told her? I couldn’t tell from her face. But either way the fact remained that she knew we weren’t coffee drinkers. How?
The incident took me back to a weekend last fall. We were in New York, where I had registered for an editing seminar. We were having dinner the night before the workshop in a restaurant in a different part of the city. A group of people at an adjacent table were laughing and talking; one man in particular had been calling friendly remarks over to us. Eventually he came to our table and sat down. He looked at me and said, apropos of nothing, “Are you a book editor?”
I was floored. “How did you know that?”
He shrugged. “I’m a little psychic.”
Was he? And was the woman we met the other night? Is my dog perhaps a wise ancient spirit? I have a slightly mystical bent, and in some ways I’d like to think these things can happen. As Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”
Maybe psychic experiences are embedded in our everyday lives and we just never notice them.
Have you ever had a psychic experience?