Friend's Best Man

Quiet. The Infiltrator is getting something. Yes, he can see it clearly now: Pet ... psychics ... are ... hilarious ... frauds.

"Ever wonder what your pets feel and what they have to say?" questions an ad featuring a smiley woman hugging her dog. "They are angels beside us in physical form. With telepathy, energetics, and intuition, I can help you clarify and understand."

Yes, like Dr. Doolittle, this woman has the ability to have entire conversations with your pet, but she'll go the doctor one better. She'll do it over the phone, charging you money to get into your pet's head at a distance. A session will set you back a good $75 to $100.

Pet psychics claim that they enter a light meditative state, during which they engage in old-fashioned chin-wagging with pets. If pet psychics can really talk with the animals, then the Infiltrator says, "That's fucking great!" But if they're pulling our chains and charging us money for it ....

I decide to test pet psychic veracity by phoning several. Since I don't have a pet, I pose as my own dog, who happens to go by my name. Any true pet psychic should pick up on this right away. If not, well -- I hate to say it -- I'll have to conclude that this is a pure, 100 percent, fuck-me-sideways scam.

Pet Psychic No. 1

Hoping to get funny responses, I tell the pet psychic that I think my dog, Harmon, has a really good sense of humor, and that he's the life of the party.

Pet Psychic 1:I was talking to Harmon this morning. He's very open to talking, by the way.

Infiltrator:Uh-huh.

PP1:I'm in touch with him, simultaneously, when we're talking. If something else comes up, just ask me, 'cause I can get the answer from him right away.

I:Around what time were you channeling into him? He was making this weird yelping.

PP1:It was probably around 9 or 10 -- around there, yeah.

I:[holding receiver away from mouth and screaming] HARMON, GET OFF THE COUCH!

PP1:And, by the way, he is just a love. He's like this big giant teddy bear. He doesn't see himself as big as he is, and he sees himself as light, if that makes any sense to you.

I:Yes, it does ... GODDAMN IT, HARMON, GET OFF THE GODDAMN COUCH NOW!

PP1:And he is just the most social animal! I get the feeling -- or I know-- that Harmon is very aware of energy. He loves other beings. Do your friends hang out with him a lot?

I:No! And other dogs don't seem to get along with him. Can you hold on? HARMON, QUIT DRINKING OUT OF THE TOILET! Sorry about that -- what were you saying?

PP1:You know what his thing is? He doesn't like rude dogs. He is very proper. Almost like, I guess, a butler. He likes things to be just so, while at the same time he's very lighthearted.

I:GODDAMN IT, HARMON --YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO THAT OUTSIDE! I'M NOT GOING TO CLEAN THAT UP! [Sound of slipper hitting the couch.]

Pet Psychic No. 2

Why is my dog, Harmon, aggressive to Grandma?

Pet Psychic 2:Harmon is like a little magnet. He likes to attract people who are good for you, by the way. Use him as a thermometer -- that's what he is helping you with.

Infiltrator:He's aggressive to Grandma. Should I not like her?

PP2:One of the things Harmon said was that Grandma gets a little cranky at times, and so he ... let me look at my notes ... is Grandma around you a lot?

I:She comes by once a week with freshly baked cookies, and then Harmon just starts growling, and we have to put the muzzle on.

PP2: [Pause.]Oh, Harmon's absolutely funny, he just said [the psychic assumes a cartoony dog voice], "She's a bit cranky. I admit I don't get the warm and fuzzy feeling from her."

I:But she's the kindest old lady; she's, like, really, really kind. That's why I don't understand it. Harmon scares the heck out of her because she's so little and fragile.

PP2: Well, I have to tell you that one of the things that came up was that Grandma gets a little cranky at times, and what I saw was a little bit of a darkness around her.

I:A darkness?! Around Grandma?!

PP2: The next time you see Grandma, why don't you picture a giant white light around her, like an egg? And in your mind say, "Dark forces around my grandma, please leave, 'cause we don't want you here!" And just sort of send it away.

I:It's that easy?

PP2: Absolutely! That's what Harmon is reacting to -- not her. I'll check in with Harmon after we get off the phone, and I will tell him he needs to be more gentle.

Pet Psychic No. 3

Does my dog, Harmon, like it when I dress him up in little sweaters and people clothes? (The pet psychic I put this question to pauses a lot, creating the impression that she's actually getting responses from my fictitious dog, who bears my name.)

Pet Psychic 3: He's a really easygoing dog, so it doesn't embarrass him to wear little sweaters, but he told me he does get hot. Do you dress him up before you take him for a walk?

Infiltrator:No, just, like, at parties and at the grocery store and stuff.

PP3: [Pause.]He knows that it pleases you, so he's not embarrassed.

I: So I should keep doing that -- like, little hats and big sunglasses and bow ties?

PP3: [Pause.]He's telling me he's fine with it.

I: I'm thinking of entering him in this dog show. Would he be up for that?

PP3: [Pause.]He'd love it. He's very proud. [Pause.]But he said he doesn't know if he can be perfect. He's not that kind of dog. He's very free-spirited.

Pet Psychic No. 4

Why did Harmon chew up my slippers? (During this pet psychic session, I occasionally hold the phone away from me and make barking and yelping noises.)

Pet Psychic 4: I asked him if he chewed up your slippers, and he either doesn't remember it or is in total denial, 'cause it wasn't a big deal for him.

Infiltrator:[Ruff-ruff!]Well, here's the really weird part -- they were slippers given to me by Grandma! [Woof-woof!]

PP4: That's interesting. I'll talk to him about it. I'll tell him he needs to back off. I'll work with him. I often have clients call me two weeks later and say, "Oh my God, I thought it was stupid when you said this to me, but now I get it."

I:[Grrrrr-grrrrr!]GODDAMN IT, HARMON, STOP DOING THAT TO MY LEG!

(Pet Psychic No. 4 recommends some New Age drops you put on your pet's head to "balance out his energy." They cost $17 a bottle. She happens to sell the stuff.)

Pet Psychic No. 5

Why did my dog, Harmon, mess up the carpet and knock over Grandma's vase?

Pet Psychic 5: [Pause.]He's telling me that your feet aren't really grounded on the ground, and you kind of go with the flow. What he's saying is for you to take a bigger stand and do it your way.

Infiltrator:OK, I'm not clear on that at all.

PP5:[Pause.]He wants you to stand up for yourself. Does that makes sense?

I:No!

PP5:[Pause.]Well maybe it's something coming up.

I:Oh. [Grrrrrrr!]

PP5:I asked Harmon about the vase. He said [this pet psychic also assumes a cartoony dog voice], "Everyone makes mistakes, and I'm included, so I'll try and watch out not to do it again." He didn't do it on purpose, and he apologizes for it. [Pause.]It was actually his tail!

I:He doesn't have a tail! [Yelp! Yelp! Yelp!]

PP5: [Pause.]It was more like his hip. [Pause.]What I'm getting is, he was lying near it, and he stood up, and it knocked over. Do you see what I'm saying? It was a total accident, and he apologizes for it.

I:[Ruff! Ruff!]

Pet Psychic No. 6

Did Harmon get lost or run away? What did he think of the "lost dog" posters I put up with his picture on them?

Pet Psychic 6:He didn't consider himself lost. It was a big adventure for him! [Pause.]He didn't notice the posters that you put up, but he thinks that's really, really sweet, and he wants you to know, thanks very much.

Infiltrator:Can you tell me where he went?

PP6:Um ... [Really long pause.] What he is showing me is just cruising around. He was in somebody's house, like an apartment thing.

I: Really?!

PP6: [Pause.]He was in somebody's house or apartment.

I: Did Harmon like those people better than me?

PP6: [Pause.]They were nice enough. But it was just like a big adventure for him.

I: Uh-huh. And Harmon -- you know, my dog -- was in someone else's apartment?

PP6: He was at someone's house for a while; it was like an apartment. He's showing me going up these stairs and a hall.

I: And how long was Harmon there for?

PP6: Only a few days. [Pause.]I just asked him if that's something he's going to do again, and he said [cartoony dog voice], "No, I've kind of got it out of my system for now."

Pet Psychic No. 7

Can you tell me how Harmon and I spend most of our time together and what our favorite activity is?

Pet Psychic 7:Do you guys sit and hang out together? He's showing me a ball about the size of a softball -- big enough to get his mouth around, but not too small. And it's squishy.

Infiltrator: No! Nothing like that at all!

PP7: Can you get him one of those and use it when you go out? [Pause.]Harmon just told me he really likes those.

I:Right. Actually, we never go out. We only watch movies together.

PP7: That's what he's showing me with the ball thing -- it's lying next to you. And I was about to say watching TV, and that's why I said hanging out together.

I:[Huh?] Oh? Well, what does he like better, animal movies or people movies? And what's his favorite movie?

PP7: [Pause.] Toy Story. [Pause.] 1, not 2. [Pause.]He likes music rather than TV. Do you listen to anything that isn't hard rock?

I:I'm really into marching-band music.

PP7: He says that's fine. Just as long as it's not hard rock. [Pause.]He just showed me a piece of celery.

I:Great.

Pet Psychic No. 8

I believe that my dog was President John F. Kennedy in a past life. Is this true?

Pet Psychic 8:There's a real controversy when animals talk about whether they were a person before. And, I have to tell you, they do that a lot. They say they were nuns, or priests, or warriors. They are not necessarily lying.

Infiltrator:[Getting annoyed.] So was my dog JFK or not?

PP8:[Pause.]Harmon wasn't exactly reincarnated into the president. But their energies really aligned and merged as one.

I: So maybe Harmon was JFK's pet?

PP8: Uh-huh ... literally, when the energy merges with that person, the animal and person are going to go through the same experiences.

I: I see.

PP8: Your Harmon can tell me what happened from that president's point of view. He may not be that actual person, but he can still tell me what happened. He might have really experienced it through the president.

I: OK. So my dog had an affair with Marilyn Monroe?

PP8: [Pause.]Yes. His soul was very much aligned with this particular president.

I: And the Bay of Pigs incident -- what was up with that?

PP8: [Pause.]Literally, when the energy merges with that person, the animal and the person are going to go through the same experience.

Pet Psychic Conclusions

Well, fuck me sideways!

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