When the school that I currently teach at opened, I was surprised by how small the Jewish population was. Growing up in Montgomery County, Maryland, I kind of always thought that we were everywhere, so going to an area with so few Jews provided me with a bit of culture shock.
And having a Jewish teacher provided my students with even more culture shock.
Of course, there were a handful of Jewish kids at my school. Like the one who came in during Passover and proudly displayed a baggie full of macaroons. Then he pulled out and ate his ham and cheese sandwich. On Wonder Bread. Yeah.
For the most part, the kids’ understanding of Jewish culture comes from two main sources: Fiddler on the Roof and Borat. In other words, as far as they’re concerned, I’m a singing cockroach who can be distracted by cash.
Okay, it’s not REALLY that bad. Yes, whenever I mention my grandmother’s ring that I wear every day, they quote The Hangover and say, “I didn’t know they gave out rings in the Holocaust.”
But they don’t say stuff like that to be rude; they really just haven’t been exposed to Jewish culture.
Which works to my advantage sometimes.
For example, a kid was describing an odd dream that she’d had during my newspaper class one day, and, being funny, I quoted Fiddler on the Roof and said, in my best Yiddish accent, “Tell me what you dreamt and I’ll tell you what it meant.”
The kids all got very quiet all of a sudden. “Can you do that?” one of them asked.
I could have confessed that I have zero training in dream interpretation. Or I could have told them that no, not everything that happened in Fiddler on the Roof is accurate for every Jew.
But I didn’t.
“Of course,” I said. “All Jewish women interpret dreams. Didn’t you know that?”
Thus began the era of Miss Goodman: Jewish psychic.
To be fair, the first thing that Madame Marie’s granddaughter said to me when I sat down to have her read my tarot cards was that I was psychic (I laughed and said, “My parents will say you meant ‘psycho,’” which they did as soon as I told them about it, PROVING that I AM in fact, psychic). Not that I believe any of that stuff. Especially because when I do it, it’s just me making up crap that sounds believable to mess with people’s heads.
Which just happens to be one of my favorite things in the world to do.
So now, whenever my newspaper students have a weird dream, they come to me and ask me to interpret it. And I do. Wildly inaccurately. But the awesome part about claiming any kind of psychic powers is that, no matter how bizarre it seems, if you act like you know what you’re talking about, people will believe you. They’ll say they don’t. But they secretly will.
Like last week, when a girl told me that she had a dream that a tiger was attacking her. She tried to shut the basement door to avoid it, even though in real life, her basement doesn’t have a door. But it broke through and was attacking her and no one came to help her.
That was an easy one.
I nodded and looked very wise and told her that she was trying to control her future by closing the door, which represented her college applications, but in the end, factors outside her control were going to determine her destiny. And it was a tiger mauling her because she was worried about what was going to happen. But she didn’t die in the dream, which meant that she would overcome any obstacle that she faced.
See? Easy. Of course, with that particular kid, I would have given her that answer even if she’d said her dream was about eating a giant pile of bananas while tap dancing on a cruise ship.
Another kid told me that she dreamed that her dog had turned into a giant purple talking poodle, but no one in her family could hear it talking except her.
Which obviously meant that her family didn’t understand her. Because the poodle didn’t represent her dog, it represented HER, and it was purple because she felt underappreciated. She was stunned by the accuracy of my interpretation.
Of course the area where my psychic abilities truly shine is in the tarot card readings that I do for my friends. Which is utterly ridiculous because I know NOTHING about tarot cards, and I don’t even have a deck, I do it with a normal deck of cards. But if I SAY that I know what I’m doing, the kids all believe it. So I’ll have them shuffle and cut the deck, then I’ll lay out the first nine cards. (I don’t even think that’s the right number, but they don’t know that, so who cares?) And I’ll make up random BS that could apply to any high school kid and watch their reactions to see where to go next.
In other words, no matter what cards they deal, I say that they’re facing drama in their personal lives (because let’s face it, that’s true of ALL high school kids. And all high school teachers for that matter). Then I say the next one represents the feeling of being misunderstood at home. Again, true of every teenager. Then I throw in something about how they’re destined for greatness to stroke their egos a little bit. And after that, even the most skeptical of skeptics are convinced of my fortune telling skills.
Because I’m Jewish. And that’s the moral of this story after all: all Jewish women are psychic. So don’t mess with us. Or we’ll put a gypsy curse on you. And you'll need to find a leprechaun to undo the curse. And they're not real.
Just ask Madame Marie’s granddaughter. She’ll tell you. Just like how she told me that I’m psychic. And clearly, psychics never lie.