EVERYTHING was roses and buttercups until that fateful day. An omen, it was, for sure. In July, on Friday, only 17 days before the 13th, we had born on our humble dairy farm a calfie. She had four legs, nice black and white patches, a cute butt and two heads, four eyes, four ears and two tongues.

She wasn’t in the best of health, being still born, and that in itself is probably part of the curse. If she had been skipping around the paddocks and sucking up colostrum, the mind boggles at what might have been. We would have been on Holmes, for a start. We would have blown Ruakura’s petty little cloning of a sea weed eating cow off the front pages of the local paper and captured world fame instantly. When she grew up we could have done all the gypsy fairs, charging mega-dollars for entry.

But she didn’t. And that’s where it all began. Shortly after the calf’s (or should it be calves’?) arrival, mysterious things began to happen. I lost a library book and the fruit cake I was making that day burnt. My daughter got given a tape of Aqua, the people who do the Barbie song and we have had to listen to it most days. Our best friend, for no good reason, decided to move from just down the road to the very bowels of the universe, to Te Pahu, miles from anywhere. (Actually, he did it months and months ago, but, and I stress, but if I counted backwards I would probably find the day he made the decision was the very same day the calf was conceived.)

But worse was to come. The very next day after the birth of the hydra, we discovered that our new house that we had just moved into, had cost so much more than we had anticipated, that we were stone broke. Overnight, we were transformed into peasants, complete with sack outfits, wooden teeth, boils and highly superstitious minds. Now being impoverished, we were unable to raise the funds to attend the annual gathering of the rest of the Skeptics lower down the Island.

Denied access to logical and rational thought, we sank deeper into the power of the two-headed calf. Our house has been overrun by spiders. There was an eclipse of the sun just over Gordonton the other day. After spending a morning in the alternative bookshop, The Crystal Goddesses Third Eye Healing Centre, we now know there are things we can do. We don’t have to be helpless victims. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a victim — it looks better on your CV than “stinking, rotten oppressor.”) We can light lavender-impregnated candles, hang chunks of quartz from dangly places, plant energising herbs, floss our teeth listening to dolphin songs and change our daughter’s name to Windflower.

Let’s be honest here. It’s a lot easier not being a skeptic. You can go to parties without worrying about being cornered and viciously savaged. It’s much easier to make plans for the future when it’s all set out for you in the stars. When your life gets really crappy — because life often is — you can hope things will improve in your next one. But anyway. Things must be what things must be. I hope everyone had a thoroughly rotten time at the Skeptic’s conference and we were perfectly content sitting at home, all by ourselves. Just Moonflower and WillowWildMan and myself.

PS. The Dead Calf Collection Man came and picked up our two-headed wonder. I haven’t found out if he paid twice yet.

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