I have a gift, did I ever mention this? It wouldn’t surprise me if I didn’t. It’s just something I can do; a natural talent so effortless that it frequently slips my mind. Yet it’s an amazing asset nonetheless and I should do more with it.
What am I talking about? Why, handwriting analysis, of course.
You didn’t know?
It’s not exactly a secret. I’ve written three books on the subject, though none of them happens to be very good. In each case – especially the last one – the editor, for some reason, thought he or she knew a lot more about this than I did and totally rewrote or reworked the material, making it either inaccessible to readers or in certain instances just plain inaccurate. I’ve never understood that.
The really amazing thing is that, okay, I’m able to do this – interpret handwriting – yet I have never studied the subject. EVER. Never trained, never opened a book, never taken a course, nothing. I can just do it naturally. It’s the goshdarned wierdest thing.
Made wierder because I’m not even interested in handwriting.
Normally, graphologists – the technical name for analysts – spend years, decades, half their life, making a microscopic study of the subject. It’s their passion. Then, at the end of all that effort, they declare proudly that they are “75% accurate” in their interpretation.
75%? That’s all??? My lord, I’d be so embarrassed.
Me, I’m around 99% accurate, and, frankly, ashamed that I can’t make it the full 100%.
Don’t ask me why or how all this came to pass, by the way. It’s a mystery. It just crept up on me one day when I was around 32 years old, and since then – bingo! I’ve been able to deduce people’s innermost workings from the energy they invest in their scribble. Blackboards, menus, Post-It notes, cards, letters, originals or copies, doesn’t matter – it’s all good.
In fact, when I first came to America, I used to do parties in my spare time and dazzle people with my skills.
Then the Smithsonian Institution called. Wanted me to analyze the writing of an obscure 19th Century painter. It took me forty minutes. What I sent them back was not only dead-on, they said, but yielded more information than their best, most consistent research had turned up in fifteen years!
I was on TV a lot too, doing Entertainment Tonight a few times, and The View (off-camera, I told the wonderful Meredith Vieira that she was frustrated with being on there and that she should leave and spread her wings, and she said, “I know! You are so right. That’s exactly how I feel.” Now she’s hosting The Today Show.) And a bunch of others. Folks loved it.
Then I quit.
Couple of reasons. A: I didn’t want to be known as a handwriting analyst. And B: I was scaring people, and that’s never good.
At a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel once, I told a woman about her life and how bleak it was at the time. The evidence was right there on the page, in every stroke of the pen, and I absolutely nailed it. But then, a few days later, her angry husband cornered my partner with a message to pass on to me. First he denied that what I’d told his wife was true. Then he added, “Tell him that if he keeps on doing this to people, someone’s going to sue him.”
Well, that was it. He was right, I realized. And I didn’t want to be justifying this stupid talent in court. Without training or diplomas, what was I going to say? That it just magically appeared overnight, giving me the power to change people’s lives?
Pah, no way. So I stopped. Easy come, easy go. From that day onwards, I never did another handwriting analysis. Except maybe privately. Christmas cards and thank-you notes are always fun. I can tell exactly where friends are in their lives, which is frequently the opposite to where they say they are.
After that, nothing happened for years. I did radio and a TV show, wrote travel books instead. Eventually, the topic didn’t even come up in conversation any more. As far as I was concerned, I was done with handwriting for good.
Then, recently, two odd things happened.
A few weeks ago, the woman I’d analyzed at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the one whose husband issued veiled threats, approached my partner and told him privately, “Everything Cash said about me that day was true.” (Something we both knew anyway.)
Soon after that, over breakfast one Sunday, my partner – damn him – happened to let slip to a couple of new friends about my gift. That I used to analyze handwriting and was astonishingly accurate.
“Oh, you should do mine,” one of them chimed up immediately, as people always do.
“Actually,” I told her, “it’s been years. I don’t do it any more. I’ve forgotten most of it and am very rusty.”
But she persisted, sent me a written note, and came over one evening to hear the result. It was like getting a hepatitis test.
Astonishingly – to me, not her – without any preparation I told her all about herself. Her fears, her background, her insecurities, the reasons she behaved the way she did in relationships, the influence of her father – it was staggering. (Again, to me, not her!) An hour later, she went home happy, pensive, and, I guess impressed, because she immediately recommended me to a friend of hers.
Next thing I know, I’m sitting at a table yesterday morning with a family of Swedish people, total strangers. They’ve brought photocopies of the handwritings of dead parents and grandparents with them, and I’m studying them with a huge magnifying glass the size of a dinner plate, fluidly rattling off secrets – things about their behavior, attitudes, beliefs etc that nobody ever understood when they were alive.
It was a struggle, I’ll be honest. Seven writings in 90 minutes, with skills that are blunted through lack of practice. Yet apparently everything I said rang true and made perfect sense. And the writing wasn’t even in English!
Better still, I got paid for doing it. Oh my God, I made money at handwriting analysis!
So there we are. I’m a bit clueless as to what to do next with this. It’ll probably be nothing. Although I must say, this recent turn of events gives me a certain amount of pleasure, as well as vindication. I may be nowhere near as good as I used to be, but dang! Even at this subpar level, without trying too hard, I’m clearly better than most.
When my first handwriting book was published in Britain years ago, there was outrage from graphologists. Uproar, consternation. “We’ve researched this subject for decades, earned diplomas, and practiced until we’re 75% accurate,” they said angrily. “And you just breeze in without any qualifications and claim to be better than us? Is that what you’re saying?”
Yup. Pretty much.
As a result, my book was banned from graphology conventions, there were articles written in magazines decrying my method, and many people tried to stir up trouble.
There were similar stirrings when the American books came out as well, though nowhere near as much. And now I realize why. Handwriting is dead. People don’t write any more. Bit by bit, graphologists are losing ground to computers, until very soon there’ll be nothing left for them to work on. All their precious studies – of loops and strokes and margins and slants and other minutiae, leading to a 25% error rate – will be flushed away down history’s toilet. And good riddance, I say. Miserable, narrow-minded bunch.
Whereas myself, I didn’t ask for this gift – that’s why it’s called a gift – so if I don’t analyze another piece of writing ever again after yesterday, what do I care?
At least I did something fun with it. I wrote books. I made a lot of people think differently about themselves. Plus, my work is filed away at the Smithsonian. And, best of all, I was instrumental in persuading Meredith Vieira to leave The View. That’s got to count for something, right?
NOTE: There’ll be no Swami column tomorrow. Out of town. Have a lovely weekend, people.