“Oh, let’s do this,” said Nora. “It says fortunes told, ten dollars, and that’s exactly what I have left. It’s a good sign.”
Nora and I have been at the Canadian National Exhibition all day. We’d ridden the roller coaster three times and looked at every cow in the animal building. “Don’t you just love how their names match the cows so perfectly,” she’d said. I hadn’t actually noticed that. To me, a cow was a cow, but that’s not the kind of thing you say on a first date when you hope it’s the first of many dates to come. At least I didn’t think it was the kind of thing to say. I hadn’t been many first dates so I didn’t know for sure. Now here we were in Madame Sylvia’s tent in a waiting room with a saggy red couch. I sat on the edge of the couch as it looked like the kind of couch that could swallow you up and nobody’d ever see you again.
Nora flopped down beside me, kicked off her sandals and tucked her feet up underneath her. “Do you want to go first?”
“I’ll just wait for you,” I said. “I don’t feel like getting my fortune told today.”
“Do you ever? C’mon Stanley, you’re not the kind of guy who doesn’t like trying new things, are you?”
“Of course not.” Somehow I knew that Nora didn’t want me to be that kind of guy. “I’ll try anything once. I’ll even go first. No problem. If I have enough money left,” I said. I’d found a loophole and I latched on.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ve got enough. You’ve got that twenty you always keep in case of an emergency.”
“Is this an emergency?” I’d forgotten that I had been watching what I said. I was having second thoughts about whether it was a good idea to go out with the sort of girl who would consider this an emergency.
“Of course it is,” she said. “It’s a fortune-telling emergency.” She winked at me. Now I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out with the sort of girl who winks at me. She was making me nervous.
“What if there’s a real emergency and all I have is a ten when the emergency needs twenty. What happens then?”
“I’ll tell you what happens,” Nora said as she stood up. “No need to pay the fortune teller. I’ll tell you what she would have said. One.” Nora held up her right index finger. “Stanley is no fun. Two.” She held up her right index finger and her middle finger. “This is why Stanley doesn’t have a girlfriend.” She bent down, picked up her sandals and left without looking back.