Before You Were Born: Stories from our parents’ surprisingly romantic youth. This week: two free spirits exchange psychic readings in ’70s San Francisco., December 3, 2010

By Alia Volz

My parents, Doug and Mer, exchanged psychic readings on a blind date. Though they’ve since divorced, I recently reunited them to ask about their unusual romance.

I would like you, my beloved parents, to take a trip back in time. It is now January of 1977 —

D: Oh really? What drug are we smoking now?

You tell me. How did you guys meet?

M: We met because of Barb. She was my good friend and also my business partner at that time. She and I had a marijuana brownie bakery, and business was really starting to boom. Barb met your dad because she had a crush on your father’s roommate, John, and went out with him a couple times, though I don’t think they dated seriously.

D: I’m pretty sure I met John through the Berkeley Psychic Institute.

So Barb introduced you. Was it a blind date?

M: Well, how blind is two psychic readings?

D: It wasn’t a date. I think Barb gave me your number, and said I just had to call you. So we talked on the phone and came to the understanding — since Mer did tarot readings and I did aura readings — we decided to trade readings. I mean, if there’s a question about it, blame Barb. “Match-maker, match-maker, make me a match!”

Describe the moment you met.

M: I think you came to me first, Doug.

D: Yes, that is correct.

M: I lived in an apartment on Frederick Street, in the Haight. It had a big staircase where you could stand at the top, and it rounded around so you could see who was coming up the staircase. My bedroom was the first doorway to the right. I had a king-sized bed, and I did the reading right on the bed with the cards.

D: I had, of course, heard from the match-maker all about this incredible tarot-card reader, and I had goosebumps, like, “What am I in for here?” I remember ringing the bell. The door opened and there was this long set of stairs with this lady up at the top. I think the light was behind you. I knew there was no way you were going to come down, and I had to go up those stairs. It was kind of like one of those Twilight Zone things where the stairs get longer and longer. And I was very aware of Mer’s presence and her social power. You know, her aura was very — the way you were standing on that landing, you weren’t going to budge. I had to come up to you.

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