Last night I attended Theresa Caputo "The Experience". Since Ryan passed, I have researched mediums many times. I found a guy in Waxahachie that has had a few guest appearances on ghost hunting shows on the sci-fi channel. I came very close to booking some one on one time with him a time or two. For whatever reason, I never followed through. Maybe I didn’t want to go and have it be a total failure. Maybe I didn’t want further proof that we’ll never speak again when I sensed a hoax. If I haven’t put it to the test, it’s still a possibility. The power of both hope and denial are far more intense than we give them credit for. I also rationalized that maybe Ryan needed time to adjust to his new spiritual plane before he’d have any interest in coming back to this realm to comfort me. I’m full of theories and excuses to keep things the way I want them. I guess that makes me just the type of person a medium loves. Hence, the tickets I purchased and the blog you’re reading now.
This event fell into my lap. I’d been told about it by more than 2 people that day and I took it as a sign. It was like I was being pulled there. I thought since it was a large event, if she passed me over, it didn’t have to mean the same as a botched reading with someone one on one. I can reduce it to supply/demand and maintain hope. A larger event mean it was casual and I could keep myself from getting too invested. Though I told myself I was going to keep it lighthearted and not expect a miracle, the truth is, my heart was begging for a connection. Ryan was such a strong personality, I knew he’d come through. I just knew she’d pause and come straight to me. I wanted her to say something only he would say. I wanted her to tell me how strong his presence was. I wanted her to answer my biggest question -- Why?
Theresa certainly has a demographic. Attendees were predominately white women whose ages ranged from 30 and up. I ran into multiple clients. Every man there had the unmistakable look of having been unwillingly dragged there by the ladies in his life. Most men don’t buy into this particular brand of spirituality. Rightly so, in my opinion. My date and I were happy to have encountered a bar. We waited in line, got some stiff drinks, and took a seat just as the show was beginning. Spotlights up and there she was in all her splendor; complete with her trademark huge platinum blonde hair, dark tan, and 6 inch glittery Christian Louboutin heels. She’s selling a brand and we eat it up. We want those sparkly shoes. We want that enormously coiffed hair. We want a character. And she lets you have it. The image is genius. Why would the quirky Long Island lady with big hair be selling me a heap of bullshit? She’s nuts so she’s gotta be legit, right!?!
The show began with a lot of explanations, disclaimers, pandering, and she was unexpectedly fowl-mouthed. I wish I could explain why that put me more at ease, but it did. She was actually pretty funny. Her thick accent and squeaky Teresa Giudice-style laugh kept it upbeat. She had signature go-to “laugh cues” when she needed to rally the troops. Her personality seemed to get stronger when the readings were lacking. She filled in the empty spaces and lack of associations with run-of-the-mill vamping. She explained that she doesn’t systematically go through the crowd. She goes where the spirits direct her. Basically saying, “A lot of you are going to leave here unhappy”.
My friend, who accompanied me, pointed something out immediately. She was on the very first reading of the night and almost all the women around us, (myself included), were already wiping away tears and sniffling. There’s no way the details of the reading the woman was receiving applied to the majority around us. They were connecting with their own pain. It was a massive room full of people who’ve experienced loss. It was a room where people hoped for a moment of resolution; a miracle. It was a room where both sorrow and hopefulness hovered in the air like a dense fog. Everyone looked really, really vulnerable. The tears were instant but got more intense as we watched a mother’s image splashed onto the jumbotron as she hunched forward and sobbed into her daughter’s snuggie she’d brought with her. She wept into the blanket as Theresa told her all the things she wanted to hear; that her daughter is not suffering and wants her to release any guilt she feels.
I do not exclude myself from the description of the captive audience I’ve given you. I was one of them in every conceivable way. My heart raced and I could feel tears well up if it even looked like she might be making her way to my side of the room. She never did. In 2 hours, she did about 6 or 7 readings. She spent a very long time with each group even when it seemed to have gone stale. Chasing elusive ailments and to attach to a group who found the word or phrase they could latch onto. Each reading would begin with a very generalized blanket statement. “Why am I feeling pain in my chest? Who here lost someone to a heart condition?” “Who here lost a father figure?” Well, you’ve honed in on a 60(something) year old woman, so yes, it’s likely her father has passed on. What I noticed most, is once someone was selected and given the spotlight, she had to do very little speaking. She could say anything and they would make the connection for her. They would fill in the blanks and come up with anything to make those connections apply.
Theresa: “What’s up with his foot. He keeps showing me his foot.”
Guest: [Long, confused thought process] “Uhhh…. His mom told me our son drags his foot when he crawls just like he did when he was a baby?”
Then Theresa smiles knowingly, throws up her hands in a triumphant display. She would look pleased that she’s delivered some pivotal message from beyond the grave. He’s come back from the dead to speak to his wife, who had their baby 2 weeks AFTER he died, to point to his foot?!?! If information didn’t fit who she was speaking to but fit for someone a few rows away, then it must just be two people trying to connect too strongly at once. That message is for them, not you, then. If you gather enough people, eventually someone will find a buzz word that connects to their story. They’re desperate and will shout out “Oh that’s us!!!”
The pained faces of everyone she spoke with tell the stories. Mother’s clinging to items of their departed children. Their down-turned faces and crushed demeanor were gut-wrenching as they looked at her like she was their salvation. She doesn’t have to work very hard. She sets ‘em up and we knock ‘em down. I think she’s good at reading people, just not the type of reading she’s making a fortune for. I think this type of smoke and mirrors will always be a cash cow as long as people lose the people they love. And there’s only two things you can count on -- death and taxes. As long as we cannot wrap our hearts and brains around the fact that we simply cannot see and talk to the loved ones we’ve lost, she’s got job security. As long as that goodbye won’t get said and that one more “I love you” won’t be uttered, we will continue to search for answers.
At one point, she began doing a reading and the lights kept dimming. Her overacting to amp up the dimming lights is when I started thinking about whether I was going to switch to hard liquor or just stick with beer at the round of drinks we would be having soon after the show. Even sooner if we just leave now. We were seated behind the switchboard and my friend swears she saw the guy dimming the lights as Theresa acted intensely spooked. Lady, you talk to the dead on a regular basis. They never visit when you’re alone? In the dark? You can handle that but you’re weirded out here? In a crowded event center?
No one got bad news. No one was told anything hurtful. No one’s loved one felt pain when it was their time. Everyone went peacefully. Everyone prefers to go alone. No one took any ailments or resentments away from their physical body. Oh, and that nephew those people lost who was stabbed 46 times? He never felt a thing… He didn’t suffer. He wanted them to know he loves them. When they smell weird smells, it’s him. And he’s present for every monumental occasion.
I’m sorry, y’all. I didn’t witness anything profound. I witnessed a room full of people being told what they wanted to hear. And what they heard they all but designed for themselves. I witnessed broken hearts desperately looking for answers. As odd as this sounds, the only comfort I got was to see that we don’t suffer alone. If you ache for a loved one, you’re not alone. There are other people in just as much pain and desperate enough to buy into this in the hopes of finding peace of mind. In our minds, we think we’re paying for closure. I think we’re really just paying for her next pair of sparkly Louboutins.