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Tara's Advice

Ghost Busting!

Dear Tara,
For the past two months, someone in my office has been stealing my lunch from the company fridge. It usually happens on Thursdays, when I bring in my world-famous pasta-Parmesan meatball hero. After the fourth swipe, I was determined to put an end to the stealing. I hid behind the candy machine and waited to bring down the lying cheapskate who felt they had the right to eat my lunch. I wish I hadn't.

My company's receptionist--the sweetest little old lady in the world, a widow with three grandchildren--was stuffing my meatball sandwich into her face faster than a hungry linebacker. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Now I can guess where my missing pork-rinds and M&Ms went, yet she always looks at me in such a sweet, innocent way! Please help. I've taken to eating lunch in my car.
Signed, Hungry in San Jose

Dear Hungry,
From time to time we must all take a good hard look at the people around us, and ask ourselves, "Are my co-workers evil spirits who have taken human form to torment me?" Asking ourselves this question every three weeks is not excessive.

Clearly, your "little old lady" is a demonic bat out of hell. Specifically, she is what we call in Sanskrit a preta or "hungry ghost." In the traditional literature, pretas are described as having bellies the size of mountains but throats the size of needles, hence their perpetual state of voraciousness. You could pump fresh lard down li'l Ms. Buttons' throat all day every day and she'd STILL never be full.

The classical cure for a preta's hunger is to feed it the celestial porridge of compassion. I don't know where you're going to score any of that, so I say buy her a "Get Well Soon" card and leave it where you'd normally leave your food, with maybe a little pamphlet about Jesus, if that is her spiritual bent. I also suggest popping out and scaring her the next time she comes a-stealin', screaming, "I'm praying for your soul!" If you do this with enough enthusiasm, ol' Buttons might die and be reincarnated on the spot ... this time into the body of someone with only a normal appetite, hopefully.
Keep in touch, Tara


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From the January 24, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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