The Goddess of Ouija
Fools! You know me. You know who I am. You know me in your bones. You know this pale blue robe, this jeweled scepter, this diamond tiara, this board and this ring. You know me in the huddle of your closest friends, and in the riotous secret game of sleepover parties and the backroom game of coed parties when everything about love is at stake.
Admit the truth! All of you know me. Everyone who survived Maury High School since the very beginning knows me. I am the being you summoned in pairs and larger groups through the use of my mystic board. I am the one who provided answers to your deepest, most urgent questions in letters, symbols and directions through directing the heart-shaped pointer that two held lightly above my board while keeping your knees close together. When you were engrossed in my game, the board was not your board, but my board, the Ouija Board. And, yes! I am the goddess of Ouija herself.
Once you wondered who would ask you for a date, and I provided the first initial of his name.
On another occasion, you wondered which of your friends was going to knife you in the back when you were most vulnerable. Did I not reveal the rat absolutely, even when she was holding the other end of my pointer?
Then too, you asked whether you would ever achieve true happiness, but when the answer was Yes, you forgot to ask whether happiness might be connected to love or achieved after considerable pain. Poor you.
You were perplexed that I always knew what you were thinking. You could not always countenance my answers or accept the idea of fate that was expressed in our dialogs. Sometimes you treated me like some ghost at a séance. Sometimes you acted the fool and derided my sage advice. Sometimes you were the fool and purposely misinterpreted my wisdom for petty personal ends.
I think the most exasperating thing about me was my intangibility. You could not see or touch me. You could only begin to discover me through your sixth sense, your intuition, yet you never systematically undertook the development of that sixth sense. My, my, what a waste. How inadequate are the five so-called wits. You knew the truth, but you did not pursue it. That is the very definition of the fool.
The reason I am serving as the Prolog to this novel is to set the record straight. You are a fool to read the work at all, but if you persist in finishing the work, you would be a fool to treat its substance as you have treated me all these years.
Mind you, I do not exactly cause the actions that befall the four young men and four young women in this book. You all know that young lovers will come together in odd combinations and with great confusion, yet with all earnest intentions and strong feelings whether or not I am consulted through my board. As I am not a male fairy but a goddess, Shakespeare’s Oberon I am definitively not. Yet my role as a goddess is circumscribed: I can know and reveal, but not otherwise interfere in human affairs. Believe this: you determine your own outcomes, and you alone are responsible for your lives. So it is with the eight lovers depicted hereafter. That they are fools is not my never mind.
You may object that I am not very clear in my advisements. You may say that you have known many a Reader/Advisor whose physical presence gave you something more palpable by way of understanding, perhaps because they were fellow-humans. Fellow fools! I can only provide indicators and likelihoods when I am evoked. Of course, in amphibology I am well versed, and double meanings can lead young and old astray. Just consider how your outcomes match your high school dreams of what you might become. Just think back of your young loves, each one in turn. Can you even begin to express why your heart turned out as it did? Have you reached a state of such perfected happiness in love that you are now as wise as this very goddess? If so, I invite you to take my place in this novel. Perhaps then things would turn out well for everyone involved instead of just for some. Perhaps all these fools might be a little wiser for their experience.
I see you draw back from the invitation. The awesome responsibility that the goddess of Ouija carries is perhaps apparent to you. Maybe you are not as foolish as you seemed so long ago when you consulted me through my Ouija board. Maybe time and trial in love and life have taken their toll. I feel the pain in you today just as I felt it in your trembling fingertips. You, Mable, when you knocked knees with Roxanne and searched for Johnnie but came up with “G” for, you thought, gangling George. You Francine, who played fast and loose with Jane, discovering that “J” would betray your love of Ferdinand to your steady Ralph. Poor Ralph, for Jane would fall for him then dump him when he returned her favor, and you were spurned by Ferdinand, who after all was such a bull and no intellectual companion.
Snickering you are, I see, boys, but the girls are well aware of how you watched the game, and how some of you secretly played it too, just to see how much of it worked out in fact. You, Sam, were locked in a closet with Pat, no light on and the wild board singing. What did you learn when the light came on and you saw your love was “P”? And you, Mike, did you know that your mother met your father through his emergence in her consciousness by means of the letter “M” coming under my pointer? Can you guess why your name is what it is today? Such is the power of Ouija. Generations have come under this goddess’s sway.
I do not, I say, take credit for my power. Well, I cannot take all the credit for impulses and suggestions that arise in the minds of fickle youth. Mutability is the very essence of young love. And I am constant only in that what I mirror in an instant is at that moment true. The same thing may not be true before or after that moment. You have sometimes accused me of being inconstant when you asked the same question on three consecutive days and gotten three different answers. You never considered that you were three consecutive yous on those three consecutive days. You also unjustly accused me of predicting what never did occur when you changed the terms of our minds” meeting by a new encounter crossing old intents.
If you are inconstant and demand such constancy as must allow for salutary changes if such changes better your position and only if they do, what can a poor goddess do but allow such bettering to be a possibility? Yet since you often changed your mind without consulting this discerning goddess and since you consulted me without sufficient attention and understanding, I could not be a beacon always in your dark hours. I could not walk you through the maze to the altar and the sacrifice. I could not puzzle out your struggles to accommodate to evolving possibilities. I could not let you know about trouble on the way. You simply outgrew me. Or you thought you did.
When was the last time you had a friend you would sit knee-to-knee with unafraid to ask deep questions? When was the last time you opened yourself to the possibilities of love without boundaries? When was the last time you really wanted to believe in the paradox that you wanted a free choice to bind yourself in a settled situation? Alas, the goddess of Ouija reigns in the hearts of young people for three or five years, and then she is banished to the next generation. You leave your goddess Ouija behind like old shoes, your prom dress or tuxedo, the photograph of you and your date at the club party. As a goddess I fully understand, and I forgive you. I am not without a soul.
Yet can you find it in your soul to forgive the goddess Ouija for caring after you have lost all heart for her? For knowing and not revealing because she was never asked? Where is your Ouija board right now? Have you thrown it away or cast it aside? Does your son or daughter, your grandson or granddaughter even know the goddess Ouija’s name?
My name was invoked very recently at a table where a grandmother confessed she knew the goddess Ouija intimately and the daughter did not, but the son-in-law definitely did know her, and the daughter’s niece did too. Such is the fate of goddess-hood. I can live with that. I am not, thank goodness, a figure of any organized religion. I have no Taliban enforcing my rule. Things are both better and worse than that. My devotees come to me because they have genuine questions of deepest significance to work out in their own lives. These questions are not the questions of the schools, but the essential questions of love and life itself. Particularly love because in my experience, love is life, and vice-versa. Perhaps you agree?
Anyway, I am the Prolog, so let me introduce the four young men whose travails you are to witness--their names have been altered and details scrambled so that the action makes some sort of sense. Chief among the young men is the character known simply as “the boy.” Around him the action of the other males, James, Saul and Dan, takes shape. All the men are admirable, handsome, intelligent, caring and utter FOOLS.
And let me also introduce the four young women whose entanglements with this goddess and the aforementioned four young men give rise to the complications of the action--as with the males, their names have been altered and details scrambled so that the action makes some sort of sense. Chief among the young women is the character known simply as “the girl.” Around her the action of the other females, Shirl, Donna and Lizzy, takes shape. All the women are virtuous, beautiful, shrewd, caring and utter FOOLS.
I wish I could report that all the boys and all the girls were destined to become involved with one and only one of their opposite sex, but I cannot. I also wish I could report that at the end of the work every one is happily matched with the perfect mate, but I cannot do that either. In fact, I have to report that the slice of life shown in this work is, well, a work in progress that now many years afterward is still just that--a work in progress. I can say with certainty that I, the goddess Ouija, have not been consulted in decades by any of the eight principal characters. I can also say that I am definitively NOT the author or the instigator of this work, that the author is himself a FOOL and unlikely ever to gain wisdom since he considers himself to be HAPPY. In my entire experience as a goddess, I have never encountered the like.
Anyhow, the action of this work is complicated somewhat by the fact that “the boy” is a poet-in-process, that “the girl” is a muse-in-process, that an automated bowling alley becomes a virtual environment and a model for strategic defense, that a student newspaper becomes something like the National Security Agency and that four young men and four young women ring every possible change of relationship that healthy heterosexual people can ring between the covers of one discreet novel (Mind your dirty minds!) without once committing an indecent act, breaking a law or (Can you believe it?) violating a moral code. If he were still alive, the censorious Rev. Bowdler would be exceedingly proud since the book will not raise a blush in a 16 year old maid.
Mix A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dream of a Red Chamber, and Eugene Onegin without once being serious about the literary associations, and there you have it! Yes, I was there. Yes, I attest to the truth of what you are about to read--scene by scene from start to finish. Yes, I deny any culpable involvement. And yes, I am still available for free consultation at my board. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So here goes! I give you: the boy.
G.S. 1 I remember as a teenager going next door to my neighbors” home. They were an older couple, and she had an Ouija board, and we’d sit at her kitchen table and ask it questions. †I always thought she was moving the dial so never really gave it much thought until I used one that I bought many years later. †When the dial actually did start moving, I thought it was kind of neat. †It wasn’t until I saw a movie where the Ouija entity took over the body of one of the players that I stopped using it. †No sense in tempting fate! †I don’t think I ever used it again, and finally I threw it away.