23 years ago, I was a bubbly 22-year-old. I’d just graduated college and was trying to balance my new job as a vet tech with my old college party habits. It was a Saturday, and my friends and I had decided to visit the local fair instead of going clubbing in an attempt at being responsible adults. Most of us carpooled, but I’d opted to drive alone since my Eastside city apartment was quite a bit away from the countryside fair and the Westside city apartments of my friends.
The fair was plenty of fun. We filled our purses with cheap junk - teddy bears, framed quotes, plastic handmade jewelry, etc - and chowed down on food that was probably made in kitchens well below FDA standards. We looked a little odd - a group of twenty-somethings in a sea of children with their aging parents or grandparents - but we didn’t mind. Eventually, we stumbled across a group of Arabian-style tents. The largest tent had a hand-painted sign reading “HENNA TATTOOS”. My friends rushed toward it, talking over each other about what type of temporary tattoo they wanted to get. I hung back, feeling left out. I’m allergic to Henna.
I watched one or two of the tattoo sessions, but eventually I decided to explore the other tents to see what I could find. Inside one was a busty woman selling tight corsets, which I had no interest in. Inside another was a masseuse, whose sign “$10 private sessions” looked a bit suspicious. Yet another tent held an actual tattoo artist, his needle buzzing away at the lower back of some barely-legal teenaged girl.
It was the final tent that caught my attention. This one wasn’t as fancy as the rest. It was red, with a white sign that said “MAGIC” in sharpie hammered out front. I’d heard of fair Palm readers and had always been interested in them, so I hesitantly peeked in.
The tent was bare except for a cheap table lined with folding chairs. A plastic bin full of herbs and candles sat right beside the table. Sitting in one of the chairs was a blonde girl in her twenties dressed in jeans and a tank top. She was smoking a cigarette, although the tent smelled suspiciously like marijuana.