Encounter with the Oracle

The oracle is able to see all the other universes pressing in on this one. For example in our universe we use “Bohemian” to mean someone with an alternative lifestyle who eschews the rat race.  This is because in the nineteenth century the Gypsies (or Rom people) in France were associated with the central European country of Bohemia (part of modern day Czech republic).  But the oracle sees a universe where in nineteenth century France they associated the Gypsies (or Rom people) not with Bohemia but with Croatia, and where someone who lives in a converted tenement apartment and listens to vinyl records now is called Croatian.

The oracle is looking at my coffee grounds.  I am shaking in my boots to discover the ghosts of other versions of me who are pressing in from the other side.  They are all like me but different.   One of them is with his oracle looking at tea leaves. And one of them is being told, right now at this very moment of a world where in nineteenth century France they thought the Gypsies (or Rom people) came from Dalmatia and now they call people who lead a counter-cultural lifestyle Dalmatians.

For a second my eyes meet his across the gap between the worlds.  I muster my courage (in this universe at this moment in this situation I have courage) and ask:

“So, what do you call the dogs?”

“You mean the ones from the cartoon movie 101 Slovakians?”

At this moment existential terror and fear of the abyss overcome me like a pair of experienced tag-team wrestlers.  I run from the oracle’s storefront store festooned with golden Buddhas and pyramids but not before placating her with a crisp fifty dollar bill.  Looking up at me from the paper currency I see not the beatifically bearded face of Ulysses S. Grant but the mocking leer of James Polk.


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