“What do you mean I won’t get married until I’m older?! I have to get married or I will just die!”
Beads of sweat plop down onto my phone. I wish I had better lighting; the glare of my cell phone’s flashlight makes the palm lines hard to see. I wonder how many drinks this man’s downed. Considering this is Australia and it’s $10 for all-you-can-drink, it’s a miracle that he’s still standing.
I had been studying abroad in Australia for about a month, and one of my friends had announced to a group of pub mates that I could read palms.
“Well, according to your marriage lines, you will get married later in life,” I tell him. I hope that this will stop his sweating. “But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Remember, this is just for fun!”
He pulls his hand up and squints at the faint lines. “I have to get married before I’m 30. Everyone in my family does. I’ll be an outcast if I don’t! Please tell me I’ll get married sooner!”
“You control your own fate,” I give him my go-to-line. “Your palm doesn’t control your fate, you do.”
He opens his mouth to respond when a woman wearing an Australian flag around her shoulders shoves him.
“Ye had your turn!” She thrusts her palm under my eyes. “Tell me my future!”
I have been able to read palms since I was 17. My grandma taught me. She used to read palms at parties, until at one gathering she sensed that someone was a murderer. This didn’t stop her from teaching me, although she never read my palm, nor anyone in our family out of fear of what she might see.
As a palm reader, I don’t actually tell the future. I am an entertainer. I also sometimes become a shoulder to cry on, a keeper of secrets, or a friend you have just met.
I have never read palms professionally. For me, it’s a fun, quirky hobby that brings people joy. Like my grandma, I have adopted palm reading as my own party trick. What often begins as a weird fact about myself can result in me being treated as a small-time celebrity.
It’s not uncommon to have dozens of fans engulf me, their eyes on my fingers as I run them over lines, crests, fingers, and bumps, attempting to tell when the person will get married, if they will travel and if they have any musical talent. No matter what I say, people will shake their head in furious agreement, even if it is something as vague as “You’re close to your family,” or “You’ve had some heartbreak in your life.”
At one party I perched myself on the edge of a sofa as guests treated me as though I were Cleopatra. Drinks and snacks magically appeared before me as they mused over my predictions, each person coming up with more questions than the last.
“What does this little line mean?”
“That’s a scar.”
“Do scars have meaning?”
“Do my short stubby fingers mean anything? I hate them.”
“Actually it means that you are a very down-to-earth person and a good friend. They’re lovely.”
“Really? I think they are so gross. I ―”
“Can you read toes?”
I wasn’t sure why such folks found me so tantalizing. I couldn’t tell their entire future, nor which stocks to invest in, or if they would marry Idris Elba. But I was treated as though I could.
In terms of Western palm reading, there are three major lines that cross your hand: the heart, the head and the life line. The heart is the first line that horizontally curves across your hand, followed by your head line and your life line. Your heart line focuses on how you love, your head line on how you think and your life line on what your life will be like (but not the length of it).
There are a number of other lines that your palm can have such as your fate line, your health line, your logic line and your will line. Bumps, mounds and the shape of your fingers also factor into who you are and who you will become.
I first learned how to read palms using my own palm despite the inherent bias of doing so. To make matters more difficult, reading my own palm is difficult because I am ambidextrous. Your dominant hand is what informs your future while your less dominant hand informs your past (or what you were born with). When you’re ambidextrous, it’s hard to tell which side is more prevalent.
After months of study and practicing on my close friends, I was able to successfully read a palm. I could tell how many significant relationships one would have in their life, how much they would travel, what kind of musical talent they had, if they were free-spirited or if they were workaholics, if they had any business sense and whether they had been arrested. I understoodwhat the different bumps, lines, curves and lengths of the fingers meant.
Since palms can contain so much, reading them can actually be quite tiring. The curve or depth of a line, as well as the placement on the palm, can completely alter the meaning. For instance, if your heart line curves toward your middle finger, it means that you give too much of yourself in relationships without getting enough back. However, if it curves towards the ring finger, it means you are hopeless romantic (but it doesn’t connote that your relationships are rough). These are the minute differences you have to keep an eye out for, and after reading about 10 different palms, my vision will tend to blur and these differences can slip past me.
Although palm reading can be exhausting, I find it fascinating. It’s not the different curves and bumps that intrigue me―it’s what people will reveal about themselves. Since what I tell people is often fairly vague, they often feel the need to elaborate on what I do tell them. This sometimes leads to rather shocking facts being revealed.
One time a woman divulged (after I noted that she would have two significant relationships in her life) that she did not think that her husband was the one.
“I’m glad you told me that,” she took back her hand and flexed her fingers. “I’ve been thinking about leaving him anyway. I figured there was someone else out there for me.”
“Well, remember that this is just for fun.” I sincerely hoped that she wouldn’t actually leave her husband. “Don’t take this too seriously.”
“No, I’ve been wanting to leave him for a while now. He’s bad in bed. I think this was the confirmation I needed.”
To this day I have no idea whether she followed through with her plan. I certainly hope she didn’t, but this is part of the power and curse of being able to read palms.
Although intense personal secrets are sometimes revealed, I have also learned fun facts about people. As I read one man’s palm at a coffee shop (he approached me after watching me read my friend’s palm), he explained that he did indeed have musical talent — he had been playing with the Los Angeles Orchestra for the last five years.
I don’t read palms just at parties. I have found that it is a useful skill to have in supremely boring situations that need entertainment. After a flight was postponed for yet another three hours out of JFK Airport in New York, the entirety of the plane decided to have me read their palms (after seeing me read my sister’s).
Once again, I was treated as a minor celebrity, as fans brought me candy and trashy magazines for reading their palms. As we waited two hours to board the plane, I became the de facto entertainment.
I may not be able to tell your entire future (or your past or your full present), but I can tell how open you are and how skeptical you are. I can tell what some of your darkest fears are and what some of your craziest secrets are. I can make you smile and remind you of moments you have long since forgotten. I can convince you to finally take that trip or to start playing the violin again.
A fortune teller doesn’t always tell the future, but they can illuminate who you truly are.