It has been over a year since I either experienced the first-ever cyberhaunting or fell victim to an elaborate hoax by my readers. Or my younger brother. Or both. While open to interpretation, the fact is as follows: Ferenc Puskas contacted me via a Ouija board to ask for, ahem, a favor. Pandemonium ensued. Thus, I tread softly when mentioning the name of he-wh0-shall-only-sparingly-be-fully-named. I only half watched the latest Harry Potter film, but I caught the drift about horicruxes and resurrections and, well, I prefer to refer to the spiritual entity that haunted my house, PC, twitter, and wikipedia as “Pusky.” And I only invoke his presence in cases of crisis.
In fact, I’ve been avoiding Pusky for sometime. During the World Cup, I saw him haunting gchat, but immediately rendered myself invisible. Still, despite the awkwardness – how do you say “hola” after a year of silence to a dead Hungarian footballer that feasts on goat’s blood - Grant Wahl’s self-nomination for FIFA president was a momentous occasion. I had to do something. FIFA has reached a crises point. And I needed otherworldly guidance.
But I wasn’t about to run to Pusky for help with my tail between my legs. Not at first. So, I bought a few tarot cards, some scented candles, and the Book of Thoth. My plan was to channel positive spiritual energy Mr. Wahl’s way and illuminate some lingering questions about his candidacy. Or so I thought.
A few nights ago, I sat cross legged in my living room and, at the stroke of midnight, lit a few candles, opened the ancient text, placed it in front of me, pulled out my tarot cards, and began to read the cards. Or, rather, the cards read themselves to me.
Positive spiritual energy works in mysterious ways. The last time I contacted the spirits via Pusky, my weapon of choice was the Ouija board. Cloistered in a prairie mansion during the harsh winter, the slow and steady movement of the board reflected my heartbeat. However, now that I’ve relocated to a South Texas rancho and the warmth of spring beckons, seeping in through the windows, I decided on tarot cards.
Why tarot cards? Less suspense. Less build-up. You flip the card, you read the card, bam-bam-bam. Sorta. Maybe. Not really. The cards always give a superficial & immediate response, which I like. But they can still present a puzzle of interpretation, perplexing to the untrained eye. My questions about FIFA and Wahl pushed me in these paradoxical directions.
First and foremost, on a practical level, could one man make a difference on such a large structural problem? I have my own bias – as long as the World Cup gets free labor, like NCAA athletics, the bung culture will persist. Why drink responsibly when you’re driving another person’s expensive car? But the Olympics run the same show, and they have improved since Salt Lake.
Second, on a personal level, how can Grant Wahl cross the line from journalist to being a “player” in the field of his journalism? I experienced the same dilemma when I got haunted by Pusky and the handful of times that I exchanged emails with Jimmy Conrad. I tried to minimize and ignore both experiences, obviously not wanting to compromise my readers’ faith in my integrity and objectivity. But how can Mr. Wahl run a serious nomination campaign and keep writing for SI?
Second, have we seen this film before? Is this the making of another “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”? Will Grant become the FIFA equivalent of a freshmen House Republican, passing bills that everybody knows will die in Senate subcommittees? On the other hand, a journalist would value the most important thing lacking in FIFA: transparency.
With these thoughts buzzing through my head, I sucked in the sweet scent of the candles. I inhaled, held my breath, and then slowly exhaled. In uncertain times, we must look beyond our modern values and biases in order to scour the past for clues to our future. I shuffled the deck, laid out three rows of seven cards, and pulled out the first card. And my hand trembled.
The Fool? Really? But was I a fool for doubting the power of Grant Wahl to get a nomination, win the election, and change FIFA’s ways? Or was Grant Wahl a fool for believing he could make a difference? The Fool is perhaps the most powerful and perplexing of the tarot cards, either a very good or a very bad sign. But which? Perhaps the next card would provide me with more guidance.
And the next card was….the Ace of Spades! Surely this was a good sign? Right? I read and re-read my little tarot guide book, but found no conclusive answer. However, several people had told me to trust my own heart and intuition in reading cards, not relying on the written word. I felt the Ace of Spaces was good, but did my poker playing biases blind me? Perhaps the Ace, singular, represented Mr. Wahl’s lonely fight for justice. Was the Spade his penetrating knife of transparency?
So, like, two cards, and no clear answer. I flipped over another card, but was similarly flabbergasted. The Two of Hearts? WTF? Frustrated, I flipped another card – The Seven of Clubs? Poker again infiltrated my thoughts – seven/two off suit sucks. It is statistically the worst hand. Perhaps FIFA had reached an all new low with Sepp Blatter’s lgbt remarks and the bribe-laden selection process last year? Or Grant Wahl would get dealt an impossible hand to win?
I picked up the tarot cards and placed them back into the deck. This backdoor spiritual stuff was simply not working. I had to resort to the next best thing – gchat. Gchat with Pusky. I would enter the haunted cyberbelly of the beast. I let the candles burn out, closed and put away the Book of Thoth, and set the card decj on a shelf and out of reach from little hands. I slept restlessly that night, anticipating the next day’s task.
All day, I checked and re-rechecked and re-checked my gchat. Generally, the same characters appear. I suspect most of them have gchat on their phones, but could the others really be gchatting all that time? Regardless, Thursday evening, my spiritual prey signed on.
I waited a few seconds, just to be sure. Sometimes people only sign into gchat to check their email, and then they immediately sign out. On a few occasions, I’ve sent them a nice hello, but end up with egg on my face as the dreaded-gray-outline-window appears. I waited a few minutes, my heart rattling my chest. Pusky was logged on. Pusky stayed logged on. With a click of a mouse and the typing of a keyboard, I sent a saludito. And waited.
A year is a long time. So much had changed since our last encounter – my residence, my job, the site re-design. I also had no clue about Pusky’s whereabouts – for all I know, he could be back in his native Hungary, haunting an old mansion converted into a bed-and-breakfast. I assumed he had gone to South Africa due to the soccer and abundance of goat’s blood. I typed in an awkward introductory greeting that shan’t be repeated on these pages, but Pusky responded! And I went straight to the point….
Oh that sardonic Pusky! I read a lighthearted feeling into the remark, imagining him on his blackberry or iphone, laughing while reading my question. However, I was blinded by my own optimism. I asked another pointed and direct question – did Pusky support Grant Wahl? And Pusky….
He dodged the questions. He kinda….kinda blew me off. And I understand – as an apparition that may be potentially burning off sins ala Hamlet’s father, he has stuff to do. He has goat’s blood to drink. But did you see the “…..” line? Pusky paused. Pusky thought. Most importantly, Pusky did not say no. Nor did he kiss the rump of Sepp Blatter.
And that is a form of support, albeit indirect. If Sepp Blatter can push FIFA to create a special award in honor of Pusky, and Pusky doesn’t support him, then it’s a sign of the times. The backscratching, the favors, the quid pro quo – even a dead Hungarian footballer apparition can see fact from fiction.
Pusky did kinda hurt my feelings – you’d think five minutes of his time wouldn’t kill the guy. But what he revealed helped to illuminate the tarot cards a little bit. In summation, I’m hoping the jokes on Blatter, and Wahl’s Ace of Spades cuts through the FIFA 7-2 offsuit like a hot knife through butter….