• 61°

I’m Just Saying: Retrograde, schmectograde!

It was sometime in the late ‘70s that I first heard the astrological term, “Mercury in retrograde” — probably from newspaper horoscopes that warned to hold off signing contracts, travel or operate heavy equipment as chaos would ensue.

As a teenager with no contracts demanding my signature or bulldozers awaiting my engagement, I didn’t think much about it, and turned my mind to more pressing matters: memorizing the lyrics to the newest Zepplin release.

Even when I lived in West Hollywood and used to frequent The Bodhi Tree book store, retching slightly at the wave of patchouli that met my nostrils upon entering, I passed the books on astrology that mentioned the phenomenon as I bemusedly thought it to be hooey.

But, beginning this last week, all hell broke loose for numerous friends and I. My truck, clearly offended at my making its cosmetic disfigurement public in my last column, gave up its transmission as I pulled into our driveway.

“Oh, thank you very much,” I hissed, slamming it into park, except that it wouldn’t budge from drive. “What lovely timing for a big repair, just before Tax Day!”

Then, each one of my close friends began reporting rather frightening events.

“Blow out on my trailer!” shared Sharon on Facebook. She had been hauling a couple of horses back from Asheville when she suffered a violent blowout on the trailer which peeled back the fender as though a can of sardines.

Around the same time, another friend was driving behind a big rig when the truck suffered a blowout, and, despite making evasive maneuvers that would’ve earned a nod of approval from any fan of “Top Gear,” the tire slammed into her SUV and tore off half the fender.

If that’s not enough, another friend had her debit card  “skimmed” at a gas station, and came home to find her checking account had been cleaned out.

But the worst tale of all was posted by Sami.

“Been at the vet all day,” she typed, and began to describe the ordeal she, but mostly her terrier, Fiona, had suffered after eating a sweetgum ball (Fiona, not Sami), which was lodged in her…well, there’s no other way to describe this other than to say “poop chute.”

Despite an enema and all sorts of thorough probing, the ball refused to pass and, being Facebook, everyone began to post best wishes and emojis of praying hands.

“What is going on?” I wailed, “Everyone I know is having horrible things happening to them!”

In Messenger, a note immediately popped up.

“It’s Mercury in retrograde,” I read, my eyes skimming the body of the message, copied and pasted from this year’s Farmer’s Almanac. “In 2018, it begins March 23 and runs for two weeks.”

Alright, I thought, Googling furiously, what the heck does it actually mean? My eyes fell on the definition:

“Mercury in Retrograde is an apparent change in the movement of the planet through the sky. The planet doesn’t  physically start moving backwards in its orbit. It just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.”

If I’m reading that correctly, it means we’re basing destructive forces on something that just appears odd.

Like a solar eclipse.

Or Kellyanne Conway.

Rather silly, isn’t it?

Evidently, we still have one week of retrograde. However, in the meantime, my mechanic, Jimmie, reports that’s it’s not my transmission, just an annoying plastic piece that broke on the shifter. Dena’s fender has been repaired as well as Sharon’s trailer.

Our fortunes changed, we’re all giving nervous chuckles of relief and brushing our hands dismissively over any astrological nonsense.

Only Fiona, whose trouble “passed” later in the night, remains convinced.

Pam Stone, of Landrum, is a comedian, author and horse dressage trainer.