While helping my son Andrew with his SAT's, we came upon it. It shares the same F-I-D root as fidelity and therefore means, faith or trust...usually in regard to banks, investment firms, insurance companies etc. So when people name their dog, Fido...it implies that the pup is a faithful, trusty companion.
To break up the monotony, Andrew and I saw it fit to lampoon the contrast between fiduciary's moralistic definition and the funny sound of the word. A few days later, I was reflecting on that well-spent time with my boy. Then my mind wandered to two circumstances when "fiduciary" fit into my earlier life.
The first was in 1981, during my brief (okay, very brief), career as a Nevada life insurance salesman. Part of the training reinforced the requirement to act in a fiduciary manner. So much so that the licensing process included an oath, to maintain the best interests of my clients and respect their privacy, (in my case, client...singular...I told you it was a brief career).
The other (far more interesting) circumstance happened in 1976 when MPW (according to the, "Guinness Book of Records," she's currently the only professional on earth without a computer), got me an unusual gift for my twenty-first birthday...tarot cards.
DOWN THROUGH THE EONS, HUMAN NATURE HAS COMPELLED COUNTLESS PEOPLE TO TRY TO ASCERTAIN THEIR DESTINY. THAT'S WHY PSYCHIC ADVISERS, HOROSCOPES, PALM, TEA LEAF AND TAROT CARDS READINGS ARE AS POPULAR AS EVER.
The tarot is a pack of playing cards, (the volume of cards range between 22 and 78). It has many European regional influences. Therefore depending on where you are, it might be called; trionfi, tarocchi, tarock...or something else. Some people also speculate that perhaps the tarot has Egyptian roots.
In the case of a 78-card deck, there are four, fourteen-card suits, numbered from one to ten, plus a king, queen, cavalier and a jack. The names of the suits, (swords, staves, cups and coins), may vary. This section of the deck is referred to as the minor arcane. However, there is a fifth, trump (triumph) suit. The trumps consist of 21-cards. This overpowering suit, plus a single card known as the fool, make up the major arcane.
An early, trump ranking of Italy's Tarocco Piemontese deck:
- 20) Angel
- 21) *World (This is the only exception). The world card has the highest number but has the second highest power.
- 19) Sun
- 18) Moon
- 17) Star
- 16) Tower
- 15) Devil
- 14) Temperance
- 13) Death
- 12) Hanged Man
- 11) Strength
- 10) Wheel of Fortune
- 9) Hermit
- 8) Justice
- 7) Chariot
- 6) Lovers
- 5) Pope
- 4) Emperor
- 3) Empress
- 2) Popess
- 1) Bagatto
Tarot's original definition, from Arabic to French is; to reject. Starting in the fifteenth century, the cards were used in normal games. Over the years, the use of the tarot cards evolved. By the late eighteenth century, mystics and occultists started using them to divine mental or spiritual pathways.
CONTEMPORARY TAROT CARDS AS WELL AS THE INDIVIDUALLY HAND-PAINTED ONE'S FROM BEFORE THE INVENTION OF THE PRINTING PRESS, UTILIZE ALLEGORICAL ILLUSTRATIONS TO REPRESENT A WIDE RANGE OF PERSONALITY TRAITS.
A "well-trained" fortuneteller can reveal the secrets to a client's future. They accomplish this by understanding the value of each card...with an upside down card having the opposite meaning. The depth of the reading is enhanced by understanding the change in a card's value, in relation to those previously dealt.
ALTHOUGH TAROT CARDS HAVE NEVER RECEIVED MAINSTREAM SCIENCE'S ACCEPTANCE, WORLD RENOWN SWISS PSYCHIATRIST CARL JUNG (July 26, 1875-June 6, 1961) SAID THAT THE ARCHETYPES OF PERSONALITIES AND SITUATIONS REPRESENTED IN TAROT CARDS, ARE EMBEDDED IN THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUS OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS.
When MPW gave me my tarot cards, we went through the instruction booklet together. On my own, I read-up on more of the basics. Soon I had a slight memory of the names of the cards, what they represent and a superficial knowledge of their relationship to each other.
For practice, I tried out my new-found talent on my parents. They knew I was blithering, but it was a lot of fun. When my confidence improved, I brought my deck to one of MPW's get-togethers, in the hope that this nonsense would help me pick-up one of her girlfriends.
The cards never helped with the ladies but I kept carrying them...just in case. At Brooklyn College's Boylan Hall cafeteria, I gave a reading to my friend Brent. He knew it was bullshit but he was entertained and wanted me to come to his apartment to do one for his new bride.
Brent's misses was smarter than both of us put together. But she recognized it as silliness and we had plenty of laughs. My tarot deck was still on the kitchen table when there was a knock on the door. It was her dad.
Her father, (Gene) was a hard-working stiff...and not particularly bright. Although he lived in one of the shantytowns along Jamaica Bay in Queens, he spoke in a harsh and stereotypical Brooklyn accent.
I met Gene once before, at the wedding. I knew little about him except for Brent's juicy gossip nuggets that centered on his father-in-law's lack of common-sense. For one, Gene may have been the first mature adult ever kicked out of culinary school, due to a lack of ability. He also lost a chunk of his life savings by investing in a worm farm in Maine and his most recent embarrassing experience, involved a flat tire during a blizzard.
In the 70's without cell-phones, Gene's flat tire forced him to trek on foot through the frozen tundra of the Bronx. He found a pay phone in a bodega. Instead of freezing, he waited inside for AAA to pick him up and take him back to his car. When they arrived, his 1975 Ford Elite was on blocks. All four tires had been stolen, a vent window was smashed and the inside was ransacked.
You might give Gene the benefit of the doubt and call him a victim of circumstance (or as he would have said, victim of soy-cumstance). But the week before, Gene proved his status as a dimwit by mailing his daughter a St. Patrick's Day card for a nephew. Except all the St. Patrick's Day and nephew references were magic-markered-out...and replaced with a scribbled HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAUGHTER message.
BRENT'S WIFE WAS MORE DISAPPOINTED THAN INSULTED. BUT SHE WOULD HAVE KILLED HUBBY IF SHE KNEW THAT HE SHOWED ME THE CARD..Gene's eye, as if driven by divine intervention, gravitated to my tarot deck. When he asked some questions about them, his daughter giggled. Brent said, "He just gave us great news about our dream house." His wife said, "Daddy, this is way better than our old Ouija board in the basement."
The smile drained out of his face as he said, "Yesterday, I paid some gypsy twenty-five bucks on Woodhaven Boulevard to look into her crystal ball...and all she said was, 'Come back next week, yuh inna toymoil is cloudin' da ball.'" His daughter said, "As a favor to us, Steve won't charge you." Nervously he added, "I got nuttin' to worry about, right? I ain't got no inna toymoil...do I?"While shuffling I said, "Please remember, I am not a master." Gene nodded and began fondling his crucifix and the beads around his neck. He took from his pockets, a rabbit's foot key chain, a tattered placard of Our Lady of Fatima, an old half dollar with a golden horseshoe soldered onto the back and a plastic three-leaf clover. In my thirty-three year casino career, I never saw someone with that many lucky charms.
Gene was carefully arranging his hardware in an arc when he looked up and said, "C'mon, use yuh mojo kid. Dese are suma da tings I need tah know; am I comin' intuh a windfall? Yuh see my Aunt Marguerite is on her death bed and I wanna know, is dere gonna be any money left after my vulture cousins get deirs?" When I shrugged he said, "Will my shepherd's pie recipe make me famous?" His daughter rolled her eyes. But her expression turned to shock and she blushed when he asked, "Will I screw Nadine Rourke again?"A wave of dread hit me when Gene grabbed the salt shaker and threw some salt over his shoulder. He then muttered a prayer and crossed his fingers. The word fiduciary wasn't in my vocabulary yet, but I realized that I wielded an unwanted power over this man and his superstitions. I decided it was my responsibility to not lead him on.
I ignored his questions and said, "A tarot card reading is only for entertainment." He responded to my disclaimer with a blank stare. I decided to rush through and be as non-committal as possible.
It was uncanny that the cards getting turned up were nearly all from the less interesting and less studied, minor arcane. I literally knew nothing of each one. Perhaps if Gene was more worldly, my charade would have been as obvious to him as it was to my friends. My guilt weighed me down. He noticed the drop off in my enthusiasm and blurted, "Is it bad news?" I hated the position I put myself in and didn't respond. Instead, I made my statements even shorter, more general, simplistic and highly positive. Even though I repeated myself a lot and didn't make much sense, Gene was bewitched and rapt on every word.When I was done telling him nothing, he asked tons of questions. I avoided specifics and bailed out by saying, "It's up to you to decipher the reading...anything else I would say, would only be a guess."
That night, the tarot cards were banished into the farthest corner of my desk's junk drawer and forgotten. Two years ago, (thirty-three years later), I came across them and was reminded of the incident with Gene. This time around, I didn't hesitate to trash them. You might say I was being irrational or apprehensive but not me, I just think it's unlucky to be superstitious.