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Human vs. octopus: What's your pick?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Jul 06

Posted by Jemele Hill

JOHANNESBURG -- Sasha the psychic was very reluctant.

"I don't do it ... it's just such a pain, you know?" she said.

The last thing the world wants is a grumpy psychic, but I tried to explain to Sasha she had a fierce rival -- a non-human one at that -- who was trying to encroach on her territory.

In case you hadn't heard, there's a psychic octopus named Paul that has been making World Cup predictions. So far, the Tentacled One is 5-0, and he's predicted Spain will defeat Germany in the semifinals.

Sasha, though, explained she hated to make sports predictions because people were obsessed with them. Sports gamblers call her all the time to ask who will win the horse races and rugby matches. They put so much stock into her predictions that it becomes a lot of pressure. Even for a psychic.

She also has the misfortune -- or fortune, depending on how you look at it -- of having her "office" located in the Montecasino, a sprawling gambling palace in suburban Johannesburg.

As you might imagine, the gamblers often drop by her shop and ask if they should gamble that day, and what their lucky numbers are.

Sasha isn't much of a sports fan, and would rather tell you how many kids you will have instead of whether you should bet on Uruguay. But it comes with the job. Regardless, business is good for Sasha. She has three cell phones, and her appointments were practically booked the rest of the week. As we were talking, she got five phone calls, people consulting with her before every decision.

"I never thought there was a downside to being a psychic," I said to Sasha. "There isn't," she responded, while reading a text message from a customer. "Psychics know how to handle everything."

Sasha laughed, but not because I said anything funny. The customer that texted her wanted to know if Ellen DeGeneres was gay.

"Apparently, she hasn't read a newspaper," Sasha said dryly.

Because I wanted a World Cup prediction, Sasha and I made a deal. I'd let her give me a reading, but she had to give me something on the Cup.

When it came to my life, she was amazingly accurate, and I'll admit there were several things she said about my future that were jarring. And sorry folks, I'm not going to divulge.

Anyway, she had me choose three Tarot cards for each of the four remaining World Cup teams -- the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Uruguay.

"Hmm," Sasha said, analyzing the cards thoughtfully. "I have to say Spain. They're the strongest ones. Uruguay and the Netherlands, they are emotional teams, and that's going to get them in trouble."

So it turns out Sasha and the octopus are in agreement about Spain. Sasha asked me who I thought would win the Cup and I told her Germany, since it looked like the strongest team.

"Maybe you should become a psychic," she said, laughing.

We concluded our meeting with Sasha telling me to e-mail her because she wanted to know if her predictions came true.

I can only hope so.

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