When I was born, I was given my complete astrological profile by a woman who was friends with my dad and the goddess of Earth and chatted regularly with the moon and the stars. She was the kind of woman who didn't kill cockroaches that scampered over her kitchen because they were "alive" (which, OK, is a valid point, but just because it's living doesn't mean it's not disgusting). She ate "mostly organic, but, you know, organic is just so expensive."
Anyway, the thick, 100-page-plus book sat on my shelf for the first 12 or so years of my life. To be fair, I couldn't read for the first three or four, and after that, I was more interested in the adventures of Clifford the Big Red Dog than the yellowing book with weird symbols on it. In middle school, though, witchcraft became the new, cool thing, and I engaged fully, as I do with all new, cool things. I would volunteer myself for "light as a feather, stiff as a board" games at sleepovers, I bought a Ouija board from a used-book shop but told my friends that it came from an old Wiccan lady with henna markings on her hands and a mysterious bubbling cauldron behind her. There are only so many times you can contact Marilyn Monroe ("I heard her! I really did! She sounded um ... breathy. And dead. I heard her!") in a séance before it gets old ("Yup, still breathy. Still dead.").
So when I spotted the dust-covered old book in my closet, I eagerly withdrew it and held it out to my friends. "This book tells me about my whole life," I said as we gathered around in a circle of reverence, or at least as much reverence as 12-year-olds are capable of. "It's called astrology."
"Astrology," they echoed. "Wow."
I don't remember what the book said because I was more interested in impressing my friends than in what I was actually impressing my friends with.
Perhaps I should have paid more attention, though, because as I got older, astrology was destined to pop up in entirely different facets of my life.
"So, what's your sign?" asked a guy in a bar after we'd exhausted the highly stimulating introductory topics of conversation (Him: "What are you drinking?" Me: "Coke and rum." Him: "Hmm, looks ... brown" Me: "It. Is. Brown.").
"I'm a Leo. Do you know what that means?"
He looked puzzled. "Um, no not really."
"Well," I asked, "what's your sign?"
More puzzled. "I don't actually know."
Note to guys: This pickup line does not work. If you do know the signs, you look like a weirdo. If you don't know the signs, you look stupid. Lose/lose.
My friend Carey dictates a great portion of her life based on her horoscope. "Oh, this isn't a good day for business deals," she'll say. "And I'm not supposed to go outside."
"But you've never done a business deal," I'll say (logically, I think).
"And now, I'm going to not do any business deals INSIDE, either." She'll look at me like this makes all the sense in the world.
My somewhat cynical thought on horoscopes is that they're self-fulfilling prophecies. You're destined not to be lucky in love on the 14th, then you act like you won't be lucky in love on the 14th, and then -- guess what? -- you're not lucky in love on the 14th.
The zodiac gets us because we see what we choose to see. I'm a Leo, so I'm supposed to be outgoing, extroverted, enthusiastic and generous. And if something doesn't fit -- Bossy? Moi? -- I simply choose to ignore it.
Because the rest are SO RIGHT.
By the way, this week I'm destined to write a column that people will really, really love, and massive amounts of fan mail, million-dollar checks and general adoration will be sent my way. Just thought I'd let you know.
Liz Moody, a Johansen High School graduate, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.