We were about to leave a birthday party last week when someone made an announcement to the whole room that meant absolutely nothing to me.
“Y’all know Mercury’s in retrograde, right?”
She might as well have said, “Osturinn minn er tölva sem fer á hestbak.” That, as we all know, means, “My cheese is a computer that rides horses” in Icelandic and makes absolutely as much sense to me as “Mercury’s in retrograde.”
However, another person gasped and cried, “Oh no!” as if that person had just said “Dráps smástirni mun lenda á jörðinni eftir 20 mínútur,” which in Icelandic, as we all know, means “A killer asteroid will hit Earth in 20 minutes.”
I bring up asteroids because (a) it was my favorite Atari game in 1981 and (b) because this whole Mercury in retrograde thing comes literally from outer space. It’s an astrology thing, and famous astrologers like Jeane Dixon, Sydney Omarr and Neil deGrasse Tyson have known about it for years.
Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what the word retrograde meant. I thought it was when I went to my 10th grade geometry teacher and asked if I could retake the pop quiz tomorrow.
“Then, you can retrograde it,” I would suggest.
“It’s already retro — straight out of the fifties”
“If we could get it into the swingin’ seventies, that’d be groovy.”
Apparently, Mercury going into retrograde is a big deal to folks who follow astrology. It actually happens 3-4 times per year, which explains at least 150 of the stupidest things I’ve done in my life. It’s when the planet Mercury appears to be going backward around the sun. It’s an optical illusion but very worrisome for folks who believe that Mercury is the planet that governs such important things as communication — including computers and even speaking — here on Earth.
I don’t know who looked up in the sky and said, “Hey, Bubba. Does it look like Mercury’s goin’ ass-backards to you?” but you can bet it was a famous early astrologer like Nicky Copernicus. I’m not sure how to find much in the sky beyond the moon and Big Dipper, nor can I tell if anything in the sky is going backward, forward or sideways. On rare occasions, I will look up at the night sky and see planets moving overhead, but only the ones with flashing beacon lights to keep other planets, stars, moons and asteroids from bumping into them.
Now that I’ve done like several minutes of Googling, I’m an astrology expert and am extra worried about Mercury being in retrograde because I was born a Gemini (although I identify as a Cancer). We Geminis — our symbol being the twins, tequila and lime — are creative souls who like double-chili-cheeseburngers, the Georgia Bulldogs, kayaking and Jimmy Buffett.
Unfortunately, we Geminis are governed by Mercury, which won that right when Neptune voted “present” on the 15th try. Everyone is advised to scale back communication, important decisions and business deals while Mercury is in retrograde, but that is especially true for us Geminis. Therefore, just to be safe, I’m going to do absolutely nothing until at least January 19.
However, if I am forced to be out and about, I’ll be sure to find the bright side of this whole retrograde thing now that I understand how it works.
“Mr. Johnson, turn down that dadgum Buffett music! Ain’t no volcano ’round here! Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Because Mercury’s in retrograde?”
“What? No, because you were doing 67 in a 55!”
“You don’t have to yell. I’m a Gemini. Don’t you know your Zodiac? That hurts my feelings.”
“You think that hurts? Here’s your ticket.”
“Damn you, Mercury!”