A skeptic from birth and a registered contrarian for more than three decades of good and dedicated standing I’m probably the last person most would expect to find at a program that involves a psychic, a medium, a fortune-teller, a tarot-card reader, a palm-reader, a tea-leaf scatterer, a Magic 8-Ball shaker or those who worship potatoes that resemble the late president Richard Nixon (every third potato produced in the global market).
Yet there I was Thursday night inside a packed house at the Durham Performing Arts Center to witness The Theresa Caputo Live Experience. She’s better known as The Long Island Medium. More than 2,000 people were squeezed in there. First of all I was stunned by the number. That’s a lot of folks interested in communicating with the dead, whether Caputo could actually do it or not.
I was skeptical but did consume extra garlic on my fries at Tyler’s Taproom before heading over in case any bad spirits needed to be discouraged from approaching.
My wife Roselee bought the tickets well in advance of a show that would sell out easily. She planned to attend with her sister Annmarie. My sister-in-law watches the “Long Island Medium” television show — they’re all from Long Island after all. But there’s more to it than that. Roselee’s Italian family from New York believes in things and are open to possibilities stemming from faith, miracles and natural phenomena. In fact I once walked in on a telephone conversation between Roselee and one of her brothers at about the time she exclaimed “Oh yeah, well my psychic says your psychic is full of shit!”
Not something I heard often growing up in rural Stokes County. In fact, I grew up in family that questioned everything and believed in very little. My father had zero interest in the other side, the afterlife, reincarnation, paranormal activities, ghosts or organized religion of any kind. My mom was pretty much the same way. Together they raised two sons who are exactly like them.
I have learned over the past 20-plus years with Roselee that weird stuff occurs in the universe — events that defy explanation. The universe also provides glimpses of this for people willing to see it. Call them clues. Call them godwinks. Call them whatever, but I’ve witnessed small things that are beyond simply random occurrence or coincidence. This shit happens.
So I’m usually willing to at least witness or take part in experiences that are sometimes seen as outside logical thinking. Then I can make up my own mind about it.
That’s how I wound up heavily garlicked in a crowd of about 2,500 people, most of whom were hoping to get a reading from Theresa Caputo and somehow communicate with a deceased parent, daughter, son, grandchild or, well, cat. I suspect many in the crowd arrived with some kind of object related to a deceased loved one in hopes of attracting their attention. I know we did. I wore a tweed jacket that belonged to my late father-in-law that he gave to me when he outgrew it. Roselee brought a plastic chirping bird that belonged to her late mother that has very cosmic significance — a godwink kind of thing.
Neither drew the attention we were hoping for, but our narratives are far less dramatic than the people in the audience who did interact with Caputo during the two-hour performance. And it is a performance. I found Caputo highly entertaining. She knows how to put on a show and engage with her audience. She has natural comedy timing, isn’t averse to dropping a few F-bombs or S-bombs and understands how to lighten a mood when things get too emotional. She runs across a lot of sad stories as she works the audience — and she worked her way across and up and down the floor level with a crew that followed her with lighting and video as the images were projected onto three large video screens. I was unclear if her targets are pre-chosen. I thought so, or at least a couple of them. Roselee did not. One or two stories were heartbreaking. We had enough information about one to look it up and find a story written about this particular family’s tragedy in a newspaper, but I won’t reveal more about it here. People in the audience were very emotionally drawn to the stories. There was a fair share of weeping.
Caputo is certainly likeable, real and funny. She seems to feel strongly that her job is to make people feel better about their lives and the deaths in their families. She manages to do this very well. I would also applaud her interest in helping military veterans. She offered a tribute to them as the show began. She donates money earned by private readings to a veterans group and Meals on Wheels.
At the end and as a skeptic from birth and a registered contrarian I had to ask myself one question based on what I had seen. Is she a legit medium?
I have no clear idea. But it was fun.