July 23, 2014
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Mr. Adventure: Believe It or Not

A raven-haired medium makes dead-on connections between some Chez Boet guests and their dearly departed. As for me...

Gary Hovland

Dinner guests.

Personally, I’m against them. Small talk tends to ruin the flavor of a nice beurre blanc and smartly buttered dinner roll. But Francesca Kimpton seems fine with just about anyone joining her for dinner. And by “anyone,” I’m talking about dead people. Dead people she doesn’t even know.

Kimpton, a raven-haired British medium who travels the world bridging the gap between life and death (not to mention the appetizers and entrée), has been capable of seeing and interacting with those who’ve graduated from the nuisance of breathing since she was a little girl. And recently I was invited to witness her “Demonstration of Mediumship” at Chez Boet in Naples with 40 people I’ve never seen before in my life. I hoped it would shed light on the afterworld. After all, someday I’ll be dead, and it couldn’t hurt to get a feel for things.

As I found my table and waited for the appetizers to arrive, Kimpton prepared for her one-woman performance of The Sixth Sense by smoking a cigarette outside alone.

I had barely bitten into my crudité when she reentered and introduced us to a redheaded grandmother who recently passed. “It seems that her hair color may or may not have been natural,” said Kimpton. “She’s laughing about a half-built house. And, who is the wife that she never liked? Well, she still doesn’t.” The red-headed grandmother (who only Kimpton could see) was also laughing “about her son-in-law and him not finishing the book he was working on.” A woman in the crowd—let’s call her Patty—took ownership of the redheaded memaw.

Patty’s deceased father then came through and said, “You should be more settled in your career.” “He’s not happy about you doing nothing all day,” added Kimpton.

“That makes sense,” said Patty.

“Is there an Ella, Ellen, Emma?” asked Kimpton. “Yes,” chimed in a woman at a nearby table.

“Did she have problems with her legs? I’m seeing some problems with her legs,” says Kimpton. “She is giving the name Indy or India. Does that mean anything to you? (“No.”) Hmm, well, look into that it may mean something to someone you know … She just put her finger on you, the gentleman (at the same table). Did you ever shave your head? (“Yes.”) She didn’t care for that. She is saying you need to spend more time at home—and if they won’t let you, you need to reconsider your job ...”

So let me get this straight—are these dead people just showing up to nag us? Patty gets told by her dead dad to get a job. Another guy is told his old haircut looked stupid. And really? I’d really like to see that dead woman write a book. Books are hard.

“A gentleman is coming through who died in the last week in a car wreck—a small white sports car …hit a tree,” said Kimpton, looking for any takers. Amazingly she found one. It seems a very good-looking man passed away two weeks ago (time flies when you’re dead) and had an acquaintance in the crowd. “He is adamant, ‘Do not get rid of my clothes. They were tasteful and well-made,’” said Kimpton. “He wants them dry cleaned.”

Topper (my nickname for him) even said which dry cleaner they should go to. He was very particular. His widow, who was not present but sounded like a real charmer, was apparently not to be trusted with the clothes because she would just take them anywhere, just to mess with him. He wanted his acquaintance at Chez Boet to drop off his dry cleaning.

That was about the point where I realized the dead have almost nothing positive to add to the conversation. Dry cleaning? Honestly? Things got even more awkward for Topper when he showed Ms. Kimpton the cemetery plot he wanted to be buried in. It turns out the wife had already cremated him. Yikes.

And though Ms. Kimpton was quick to mention that not everyone in the crowd would be visited by a dead friend/relative/business associate, for a while, it looked like I might be popular with the other side. Apparently my grandmother wanted a chat.

“You were very close to your grandmother?” asked Kimpton. “Not really,” I replied, suddenly aware that 40 other people were now judging my relationship with my grandmother. “I mean, I loved her. She was my grandmother.”

“So you were close to your grandmother?”

“No.”

“She had problems with her throat?”

“No.”

“She had problems breathing?”

“Well, at the end.”

“She didn’t have any problems?”

“Well, she did die, but she was old—like 95.”

“Hmm, your father is still alive?”

“No.”

“He suffered from depression?

He wasn’t a happy man?”

“Umm, no. He was awesome.”

“Did you know a very gaunt man who died of pancreatic cancer?”

“No.”

“Do you know a man named Al?”

“No.”

Oh, God.

It’s at this point where I’m beginning to feel pretty bad about our predicament. So far, Kimpton had been amazingly accurate with almost everyone, and suddenly I’m not jiving with anything coming out of her mouth. I debate offering a “Yes” to whatever she asks next. “You have female genitalia?” Yes!” But before I can seriously consider that option, a female tablemate whispers, “I think she is talking to me. I know all of those people.”

And just like that it turns out that the woman sitting behind and beside me was very close to her ill grandmother, finds her father to be a bit of a drag and knows a guy who died of pancreatic cancer. Apparently the ghosts were telling Kimpton, “beside the devilishly handsome man at that table” and not “the devilishly handsome man at that table.” I can only assume all of my dead family members were too busy to show up that night, leaving me hanging and looking like a moron.

Even so, Kimpton’s ability could only be described as amazing. Once she realized she was talking to the wrong person, she even determined my tablemate had misplaced her husband’s wedding ring. She didn’t help her find it, but at least she knew it was missing. That’s more than I knew.

Kimpton even talked to the dead friend of another couple and mentioned his son by name (Jake) and that he was dismayed by the fact that he had “all of these old guns, many rusted.” It turned out that Jake has begun collecting guns.

Wow.

She seems to be truly communicating with the dead. But there’s also no denying that not one of these dead people bothered to shout out lottery numbers or to give us any wisdom that might lead us to a better life. So, you know, why bother?

Ultimately I walked away thinking it’s nice to know these people are still among us, albeit complaining and whining to a fault. Personally, I hope for a more interesting life after death.

Although, I’m not gonna lie to you, a good dry cleaner really is hard to find.

Kimpton returns to Chez Boet on Feb.

25. For reservations, call (239) 643-6177 or check out chezboetnaples.com.

 

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