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There was a gypsy mama fortune teller at Things, Things and Things, a really cool store in Iowa City, all the time I was growing up. Seated in a glass-topped booth, she moved slowly, turning her head and floating her hands over the cards before her. Her veil and wig, her strings of beads and fringe-edged shawl, rustled the tiniest sparkles of dust as the motor whirred. She was the only automaton I knew, not counting my grandpa’s one-man-band electric Hammond organ. The gypsy was made-up to look like a real person. Built in the same factory and cast from the same molds as all “Ask Grandma” models, this automaton was elegantly shadowy, dark of complexion and hair, a lady of fathomless knowledge of heartbreak and doom. She seemed tired of the world, more fated than inclined to read the cards and deliver her fortunes, printed on yellowing tickets. I doubt she liked children, but each year I found her and put my quarter into the slot, hoping for an insight, a clue to my future. When the booth produced a pat and unexciting message, it was as if she didn’t see me, looking up at her, eager and a little apprehensive. As if she took my quarter and she didn’t care.