Wiesenberg (s016 pan): Sophie gets spiritual help

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Pan Player+. This entry in the "Aunt Sophie" series covers pan (or panguingue), which is a multi-player form of rummy, often played for money.

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Black and white photo of Michael Wiesenberg

Michael Wiesenberg

Aunt Sophie gets spiritual help

“The Ace of Pentacles,” said an unfamiliar voice.

“I bet that won’t comoque you,” I muttered.

Shah,” hissed Aunt Sophie.

Aunt Sophie had recently developed an interest in the occult, in pursuit of which she had dragged me to a psychic on the Sunset Strip. The fading hand-painted sign outside was lettered: “Palms read. Future. Past. Present. Tarot reveals all. Learn to hypnotize yourself. Buy DMSO here.” Like a card thief in a poker game who dealt seconds and bottoms, had a marked deck, and stole chips whenever he could, this particular seeress was missing no bets.

“Perhaps,” suggested the medium, “your palm will reveal more than the cards. Oh yes. I can see that you have had a previous life as an Atlantean. And, look at those fingertips. You worry too much, my dear.”

“Yah,” sighed Aunt Sophie, “I worry whenever I play pan that I won’t remember all the advice my nephew has given me, and make some stupid mistake.”

Life of coping

“You have,” continued the psychic, “a long life line. Your heart line indicates a caring disposition. Just a second. Yes. I seem to be getting something from the spirits that I don’t understand. Something about a life of coping with smokers and peckers.” The medium blushed, “My dear. You’re not in the blue movie business are you?”

“I should say not,” Aunt Sophie bristled, while I chuckled. “Smokers are comoquers and pecker is what often happens to them. Oy, that doesn’t help much, does it. I think it would take too long to explain. Please just go on.”

“Well,” the turbaned woman hesitated, “okay. The indications are for a life of passion and romance, but one beset daily with problems and challenges.”

“Yes,” I put in, “I don’t know about the romance, but I can see those `smokers and peckers’ as a problem and challenge in the life of any pan player.”

“Dollink,” Aunt Sophie glared at me on the tatty armchair in a dim corner, “the reading is for me. You’re just here for moral support. Silent moral support.”

I closed my eyes and drifted in search of the arms of Morpheus.


“Let’s look into the crystal,” interjected the pseudosorceress. “I see some strange symbols. It looks like a spade and a club in contention with each other. That must mean some problems between yourself and the members of your gardening club. And now I see a heart and a diamond. The heart obviously reinforces the palm indications of romance, while the diamond undoubtedly refers to something you will receive from an admirer.”

“Spades, clubs; hearts, diamonds,” repeated Aunt Sophie. “Those might have another meaning in my life.”

“And now,” intoned the master of wizardry, “I see a very strange object. It looks like a brick with a wedge-shaped slice removed. Those spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds l saw earlier seem to be attracted to it, relying on it, almost as if they were leaning on it. And now I see a wagon, drawn by thirteen white chargers, being backed up to a table at which you sit. That must symbolize the arrival of your Prince Charming, followed possibly by a journey together. Oh, here comes another message from the spirits: `Watch out for suckers’ pats.’ I can’t imagine what that means, but I am only the vessel through which these messages are conveyed. Do you know someone named Marty?”

“Yes,” responded Aunt Sophie, “a nogoodnik named Marty Goldblum.”

“The spirits,” the visionary went on, “are warning you not to get emotionally involved with that one. Your Knight in Shining Armor will be someone you have not yet met. And now the crystal tells me more. I see a raging river that you are swimming across. On the other side waits a hot stove. This is very strange. That stove appears to have become mixed up with a musical instrument, as if it could be played. The vision I see is of you swimming the river to play the hot stove. I’m sorry, I don’t understand that at all. I may just have to reduce your payment for some of this nonsensical advice. Perhaps I can sell you the special prayer candles at my cost, instead of what I usually charge my customers.


“Here are more strange images. I see you seated at a table, behind piles of disk-shaped objects. I suppose that could represent money, but, even though they’re shaped like coins, they’re made of clay, not metal, although they do appear to be engraved with gold lettering. Others at the table seem to be angrily hurling cards at someone seated behind the brick-shaped object I described earlier. Spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds are flying everywhere. These people are chanting curious incantations: `Pat for eight and a bust-out,’ `My patsy’s in jail,’ and I keep hearing the mystical word `bong.’ Now the crystal grows dark. This consultation must regretfully end.”

“Many thanks!” exclaimed Aunt Sophie, standing, as I jolted to wakefulness. “You’ve told me a lot of what I needed to hear.” She gave the wizardess half a century note. We emerged into blinding sunshine. I carried Aunt Sophie’s bag of candles and incense to the Biarritz, and held the passenger door for her.

Nu, tsatskeleh,” voiced Aunt Sophie as we inched through the afternoon Strip traffic, “didn’t I tell you she was good? She predicted a winning streak for me.”

“Aunt Sophie,” I admonished mildly, “if you play the way I’ve been trying to teach you, I too can predict a winning streak for you. She also predicted a new romantic interest in your life. You’ll need to do some of that traveling she thought she foresaw if you’re going to meet him, because it sure as heck won’t be at the pan table!”

Next: 017 Aunt Sophie gets a new look


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