Skulking – a great way to spend your day

Mom always used to say “Count your blessings. Remember, you could be digging for vile, mutated turnips in the frozen soil of a squalid Ukrainian labor camp.”

(Parents always used to tell their kids stuff like this to make them feel grateful for things like okra and algebra.)

One blessing Mom never asked me to count, however, was that of being born under the astrological sign of Capricorn.

Since Mom also was a Capricorn, she knew of the trials and tribulations I was sure to face as I plodded through life. Mom was, after all, the same woman who inadvertently folded herself up in a sofa bed before catching fire one star-crossed afternoon.

Being a hardy Capricorn, she survived to face other perils – a blessing, right?

Perhaps the worst part of being born under the sign of the sea goat – carnivorous, flammable sofa beds aside – is all the crummy advice regularly foisted upon us by astrologers.

I know I’ve complained about this before, but it never gets any better.


Not ever, amigos.

A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like astrologers everywhere were telling Libras and Scorpios and Aquarians to enjoy the nice weather, try to limit themselves to three or four lovers and have a good time spending their newfound wealth on the French Riviera.

And Capricorns?

There was something about, “You’d better have a forgiving family, you callous lout. Try to do something nice for a change and don’t spend all your unemployment check at the adult book store…”

We can’t win. In fact, we can’t even lose graciously. No, the best we can hope for is not being thrown into an active volcano by our long-suffering relatives.

More recently, Capricorns were advised to step back, shut their mouths, trust no one and languish in the shadows until things get, er, worse.

“Don’t be too eager to let others know how you feel or what you’re up to,” syndicated astrologer Eugenia Last cautioned otherwise garrulous, trusting Capricorns not long ago.

Great. Now all I have to do is buy a cheap overcoat and spend my days talking out of the side of my mouth while lurking in fetid alleyways and dimly lit alcoves.

If the boss inquires about what I’m working on, I’ll have to slink away while muttering incomprehensibly about leeches and mandolins.

If some passerby innocently asks me what time it is, I’ll have to distract him by replying “Borneo” or “gonfalonier” and then disappearing into the nearest nasty niche with a sinister snicker.

No longer will I be able to greet acquaintances with a hearty, “Hey, how the hell are you, ya ol’ rattlesnake?!”

No, I’ll have to turn quickly away and, in my best Morocco Mole voice, wheeze, “I’m not up to anything. I have no plans. I don’t know what I’m doing. There’s nothing going on – do I know you?” before slipping into a smoky bodega and tiptoeing out the back door.

Well, see ya around – unless I see you first…

Originally published June 10, 2001