Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
Copyright Melanie Spiller 2012. Do not copy without permission.
Shaggy Dog Stories: Mary Poppins' New Career
As you know, Mary Poppins was a most excellent nanny. In time, she grew too ancient and decrepit to take care of busy little children anymore, and she looked around for a way to put her very special talents to good use. Knowing that she would be in good company if she moved to Los Angeles, she packed her carpet bag and was on her way.
Once she settled in, she made some good friends at the local meetings of retired nannies and they got to chatting about how to keep busy. Some were writing novels, some were traveling, and others were working as personal chefs.
But Mary Poppins couldn’t decide what to do with her time. She regularly scanned the local newspaper and craigslist looking for ideas, and one day she came upon an ad just odd enough to capture her attention. It said: Learn to use your psychic powers in as little as six weeks!
Intrigued, she went to the agency and signed up for lessons. At first, the classes were basics; reading customers by their clothing, their body language, and what they reveal when they tell you about themselves or ask their questions. Then, the classes got harder and harder, truly interacting with supernatural powers and mystical beings. Mary Poppins was fascinated.
By the sixth week, she was feeling ready to try out her skills, and she signed up for the apprenticeship program. That way, she’d get to put in a few hours with real clients, but supervisors would make sure that she wasn’t all doom and gloom and that she met her Mysterious Tall Dark Stranger quota.
Another interesting thing about the sixth week was that they talked about finding an area of specialty. Studies showed that psychics who specialized in something—celebrity contact, family member connections, predicting the future, etc.—made more money than those who simply hung a shingle that said “Psychic” on it.
They went around the classroom, each student saying what area they might specialize in. One said romance, another finance, and another said health issues. But the teacher warned that “health issues” was too vague, so one student chose chronic pain, another chose dental conditions, and Mary Poppins chose bad breath. It was odd, but after all, they were all using their psychic powers and saw that she would be successful.
At last, the day of graduation arrived. The ceremony was full of suitable pomp and circumstance, with the graduates and the instructors in fabulous velvet robes. There were several crystal balls in the room, and together, they cast the most charming light around the room.
The following day, Mary Poppins sat with her local newspaper, leafing through the ads for psychics and thinking about how she would differentiate herself. At last, she hit upon it:
“Super California Mystic—Expert Halitosis”