“A Witch!”: On Women’s Intuition and Men Behaving Badly -The Toast

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A few years ago, when my brother’s girlfriend was pregnant, my mom called to tell me that nearly the entire carton of eggs in the fridge had double yolks inside.


“It means your brother is going to have twins.” (Obviously.) That idea popped into her head with the first egg, but she kept going. Two yellow yolks plopped out of several eggs. 

People were obligated to eat a lot of eggs that day, and an ultrasound later showed my brother’s girlfriend was pregnant with twins.

Now, my favorite aunt – my mom’s baby sister and a kindergarten teacher as innocent and kind as a kindergarten teacher – is asking me how to reach Stevie Nicks by fan mail. 

“The song ‘Landslide’ has helped me a lot during this. I would like to tell Stevie how her music has helped my soul. Any ideas how? I’ll send her a special envelope so it stands out. I love you! I’m going to make it through this.”

^An actual text from my actual aunt.

A few weeks ago, she awoke panicked from a dream that my uncle, her husband of more than 25 years, had been cheating on her.

Had she called anyone but my mother, they would’ve told her that it was a just a dream. It probably means you’re insecure about work or something. Have you been watching The Laci Peterson Story again?

But she didn’t. She called my mom. And my mom gave her an ominous, “well, keep your eyes open.” 

Later that day, my aunt found an extra float in their pool and Malibu Rum in my whiskey-drinking uncle’s liquor cabinet. He admitted he’d been fucking his secretary for months (cliche, I know) – including the night she dreamt of it.

Mom says she knew he was cheating as soon as she heard her sister say, “hello” on the phone that day.

My mom – A Southern Christian Woman – laughs when I call her a witch. She prefers words like “intuition” or “providence.” But there is something to be said about a woman’s instinct that is mostly out to help fellow women – like there is some unseen feminist force that’s pushing us to politely tuck each other’s spiritual tags back into our dresses when they slip out in public. To brush the hair from our eyes.

I had a dream, too. In college, I dreamt that my boyfriend cheated on me with a girl I had never met – someone that, as far as I knew, was his first high school girlfriend and long gone. When I woke up, the dream bothered me so much that I pulled up her Facebook page, enlarged a picture of her face and turned my laptop around so she could stare at him while I measured his reaction.

Yeah, he acted a little freaked out. But who wouldn’t? I’m not proud.

I found out 6 months later that he had in fact cheated on me with her one drunken night after a big fight – only days before the laptop incident.

I knew that. I saw it on his face that night, but I suppressed it. I would’ve sounded crazy, I thought.

He called his best friend after my weird Facebook intimidation tactic and told him about it. They joked that I was a witch.

Historically, we were called witches because we were smarter than men. We called them out. We stood up for our injustices. We were different and went our own way. Or at least, we tried.

As much as I would like to believe it, the women in my family have no real super powers. Trust me, I have stared at many a pint of HäagenDazs in my day, and none have levitated toward me.

But I do believe that some of us are a little more tuned in than others. That’s because we’ve had women who have fostered our intuition. I know the power of it and its purpose. I know what that old woman told my grandmother at the carnival decades ago and how it made her feel. I know that her best friend called her crying in the middle of the night about a knot in her stomach that she worried was somehow tied to her son’s safety just minutes before she got the call that he’d been killed.

My friends joke about me being a witch because I always guess who’s going to date before they’re dating and how the movie ends. But when I tell them my stories and tell them that they have it too – that they need to just listen, I see it in them. I know that they’re trying to follow it.

I’m not sure why it seems like my clan’s main ability is to unveil cheating scoundrel menz, but I’ll take it. It might sound superficial. But I chalk it up to generations of bad luck with bad men, and leagues of strong women who only made it through because of – you guessed it – other women.

No matter what you call it, A Woman’s Instinct is there. It rises from the hot cups of coffee you share and hovers over the room when you find yourself together, chatting with all your closest women – your mother, your grandmother, your sisters, your cousins, your aunts and great aunts.

It’s there when you run home for refuge and drop your bags and let out a cry that you’d held all the way up until that point. It’s there in their faces that say “welcome home” when they could say “I told you so.” 

And it’s the very thing that you feel when a coworker touches your arm or asks if you’re OK when you haven’t said a thing about what’s going on. It’s when you can’t help but feel your friend’s pain like it’s your own. And it becomes a problem when the signs and bad feelings aren’t just about your own life.

Do you tell? Do you leave it alone? How could you expect her to not get mad when you’re pushing her to act on your “bad feeling?”

Earlier this year, someone besides me called my mother out about her witchiness. A guest pastor at her church – a woman – was preaching about how she had awoken in the middle of the night with an urge to visit a certain area she had never been to in her new neighborhood. In the early morning hours, she drove to a street busy with drug dealers and sex workers. Now she holds a special service for those drug dealers and sex workers every week – separate from her normal Sunday sermon to accommodate their night shifts. It’s always packed.

The pastor interrupted her story to proclaim that there was another woman in the building who had the same gift as her – the gift of simply “knowing.”

When my mom ignored her, the woman described her outfit. “You, back row, black shirt.” 

“Do you want to tell us what your gift is?” 

She didn’t. She shrugged it off – said there was nothing special about her.

It doesn’t matter what you believe in as long as you believe in women and in yourself. 

Mackenzie Mays is a journalist from West Virginia pursuing her MFA in California. She enjoys sharing a string cheese with her dog, Norah, and blaming things on her "southern roots."

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