Oops! – Another Retrograde

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by C. H. Wells

An agitated erstwhile client called me up once, years ago, deep in the heart of a Retrograde Mercury, to ask me, somewhat forcefully:  “Are we in one of those … those … retro … what-ya-ma-call-it thingees, right now!?”

When I answered that yes, indeedy, we were smack in the middle of one, she replied with all the gusto of Archimedes:  “Ahah!! I thought so!! I can’t stop spilling things!” Whereupon she proceeded to share her litany.

And the litany of ways in which things can mess up under a ‘retro’ is legion. For example – let’s start with computers. More specifically, let’s start with my computer, which, for no explicable reason, suddenly seized up the other day and refused to let me click on anything. Oh sure, I could move the mouse cursor – but little good it did me when clicking left, right, or centre, produced no results.

I ejected the DVD I had just settled down to watch, and tossed it gently [well, okay, maybe it was a little less than gently] onto the top of my computer, whose surface it promptly skimmed … gently … as it sailed off the rear edge – into oblivion!

No, seriously! Once I had rebooted [… and rebooted … and rebooted …] and finally re-established my computer’s function, I got painfully down onto my hands and knees to retrieve the wayward disk … and there it was – gone!

You think I jest? Or that I’m overstating? But I tell you, no! – It was gone!

No – it didn’t get hung up in the wiring behind my machine. No – it didn’t land on its edge and roll off to the other side of the room. No – it didn’t wedge itself forcibly into the papers on my computer-top and send a substitute ricocheting off the pack in its stead. What it did do was make a sickening sound. An ominous sound. A sound of doom. Somehow I knew – when I heard that slow steely slide down the wall, and that dreadful soft, fateful “shtook,” at its end, that there was something very, very wrong …

As a sci-fi aficionado – and sometime writer – I confess that I entertained the idea [for a fraction of a nanosecond] of the disk having somehow magically reached a kind of ‘perfect speed’ of pace and trajectory – as it knife-edged the surface of my computer’s electromagnetic field – that sent it careering off, at critical velocity, into a parallel universe … an alternate reality … or some temporal rift … right there behind my computer …

… until I noticed …

… that at that one spot in the wall [… and that one spot only …] the decorative baseboard – which is, coincidentally, just about half an inch taller than a DVD standing on edge – had become separated from the wall-panelling behind it by a space equal to about twice the thickness of a DVD.

Yup. That’s exactly where it had lodged itself!

No wonder that long, slow slide down the wall had sounded so ominous. No wonder the finality of that dreadful ‘shtook’ sent a chill down my spine. Thankfully, a skinny metal ruler, some inside-out painter’s tape, and a lot of grunting and sweating – with appropriate exclamations – saved the day [or rather, the baseboards … from having to be removed]. A minor miracle!

And now I’ve spilled the beans. No, I mean, literally … I spilled the coffee beans all over my bedroom floor, yesterday. [Don’t ask.] I suppose, in all honesty, those dust bunnies could really use a little pick-me-up. I just hadn’t planned to do it with caffeine.

Some retrogrades are like that – messy. You know …you pour the milk onto your breakfast cereal and sit the carton back onto the table. Unfortunately, it lands awkwardly and starts to tip toward you. In your eagerness to grab it before it can spill all over the table – and worse, all over your brand new sweater – you accidentally knock over the cereal box with your shoulder. Luckily, the box gets hung up on a nearby chair, which halts its progress toward the floor. Unluckily, it is open, and upside down, when it stops moving.

“Well, at least I saved the milk,” you’ll console yourself, just about the same time you notice, nearby – on the top of that freshly thawed pound of butter – a strange new dent that looks oddly like the shape of a sweatered elbow.

Mysterious crashes, impossible screw-ups, and “can’t do anything right” would seem to be the theme of the Retrograde Mercury of Summer, 2017. Officially starting on August 12 and running till September 5, inclusive, this time Mercury retrogrades in Virgo – normally so very neat and tidy.

By August 31 it will retrograde its way back into Leo – known as the proud king of the beasts. One wonders how proud he will feel with a faceful of soggy breakfast cereal.

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PS:  You know the rules – and the halos. If you’ve forgotten, or are new, just search this site for “Retrograde Mercury” and find more info.

PPS:  Feel free to add your own personal litany of … [“How could that even happen?!” … “You’re not going to believe this!”] … retrograde stories in the comments section below. It sometimes helps someone else to know that they’re not the only one who’s lately turned into a blathering klutz …