I see dead people. Or at least people I wish were dead. Bawdy, blond-banged corpse-whisperer Sylvia Browne is in town to yell at living people and promote the latest of her must-read tomes of afterlife soothsaying.
The little people (who, for the most part, aren't so little) are at Barnes & Noble in droves to lap up her creepy, comfy-chair wisdom and spend a minute with a woman who might as well be their meddling Long Island grandmother. Cookies, anyone?
"I've always been of the predilection that doing 20 readings a day, I listen to what people ask me," she predilects. "And what most of the people ask me is about wanting, about hope. And that's why I wanted to write this book."
I should hope so.
The book in question is humbly titled "Visits From the Afterlife: The Truth About Hauntings, Spirits and Reunions With Lost Loved Ones." Which means, in layman's terms, those night sweats and horror dreams aren't just the byproduct of your lifestyle and cynicism, but rather clues to the secrets contained within eternal life.
I may cry.
Sylvia's following comes predominantly from some well-placed (and difficulty paced) appearances on such media of Western truth as "MONTEL," where she'll lovingly let you know that the cousin you lost touch with 16 years ago is dead. Not only is he dead, but he was murdered, after being raped, then thrown into the Hudson River where he finished his tenure on Earth as an appetite suppressant for toxic fish.
Sylvia has her bangs clearly focused on toxic relationships today. Because people, mass-market people, really like those.
"You can work and play, and work and play with, or you can be married to someone that just drains you."
She drains me.
"And how many of us could raise our hand and say we're having a wonderful time when one person in the group is not? Or if someone really hates you, and you're not protected, you feel it, don't you? It's what we call being psychically attached."
That's what I call being paranoid, annoying and quite possibly ugly. But Sylvia's more happy to pass the guilt on to you, seeing as she's the one with a publishing contract and a hotline to the graveyard.
"So many times your depression, your illness, is caused by someone else," she coughs. "I've always said, and I'll say this till I die, germs do not make you sick. People who drain you make you sick -- people who give us bad energy. And people can do this! Now, I don't mean that they'll sit in the corner and say, 'I hate her, I hate her, I hate her.'"
I hate her. I hate her. I hate her.
"Although they sometimes do, I don't know. Doesn't pay to work with bad people. I tried with my ex-husband. Doesn't happen."
Thunderous laughter, a quiet belch from myself and a humorous anecdote goes forth into the waiting world. Somebody touch me.
"But good people can be touched." She does just that. "The depression may not be yours. The illness may not be yours. You may be sympathetically picking up somebody else's. How are you feeling at work?"
"How are you feeling at home?"
"You can love them, but they're not there for you. They don't do anything for who you are. Are you depressed when you walk in your home?"
"People always say, 'Well, I can't afford to leave.' Well, you can't afford not to."
But can I afford a drink? That's the real question.
"They say, 'What will I do?'" she guffaws. "Get healthy! Be happy!"
Praise the Lord! Hallelujah sister!
"Duh!" she farts.
As a means of codependence relief, Sylvia offers these modest steps in the right direction. Take notes, here. Or just clip this column and use it as a bookmark.
"First of all, you get away from the person that you think has done it. I don't care if it's family, or who it is. It doesn't matter."
"Second of all, every morning surround yourself with white light."
Or a peculiarly narcotic white powder. That should do the trick.
"Thirdly, put mirrors around you that reflect out." She finally astounds me. "When evil comes up and reflects itself, it can't stay. If good comes up and reflects itself it will stay. Now, before you do this, be very, very aware that you will lose people."
I'm already lost.
"I'm telling you, people surround themselves with white light and put mirrors around them, the first thing they know, they've lost about two or three people."
And, perhaps, their minds ... or their lives, even. In which case, they can still talk to Sylvia Browne. Perfect.
• • •
Item: Like the whore that I am, I auctioned off a mention in my column for charity last week while getting drunk with Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum. OK, I did more than that. I took off my pants onstage, garnering a series of ripe tomatoes and, of course, bids. So here goes the promised mention:
Jewelry designer Stephen Norden of Winter Springs was sober enough to drop $250 for the St. Francis House, and to let me know that he has some really wonderful friends. And Daisy's pardner, Bud Beaton -- a tall 10 gallons of a man who looks like his name sounds -- threw in an extra $100.
St. Francis tends to the HIV problem among homeless folk, and there's really nothing funny to say about that. Except, maybe, something about me dropping my pants.