Tell me Mrs. Rita
What's it say in my tarot?
Read my palm and tell me
Why do lovers come and go?
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Mrs. Rita's place in Tempe
When you visit her for a palm or tarot card reading, don't expect to be greeted by a glitzy turban-wearing soothsayer luring you into a room filled with inky darkness lit only by a single candle flame. A bejeweled crystal ball wielding gypsy, Mrs Rita is not.
Who Mrs. Rita is might surprise you.
A welcoming figure of about 5'2", Mrs. Rita Miller is unassuming and friendly. Her real home (where she lives) is lavishly – yet tastefully – appointed, lots of windows and light. Nothing like what we've been led by Hollywood to expect of someone in her profession.
Her business is her second home. Located smack in the middle of the Arizona State University campus area (called The Normal School when she first moved in), she set up her palm reading business in 1969 in the small clapboard house out of which she still does business. Despite the fact that the city of Tempe has grown up all around her, installing strip malls in every direction, and she gets at least one offer per week from people wanting to purchase her lot, Mrs. Rita is steadfast. She is there for the long haul.
The house itself is the stuff of a picture postcard. A historic home built before the turn of the century (1900), Mrs. Rita maintains a lush green lawn in the front yard, and the only thing that advocates it as a business is the diamond shaped sign out by the busy road advertising her palm reading services.
Old Main building at Arizona State University
Which may be why a Gin Blossoms member happened by one day. "It's been so long that I don't really remember the details," Mrs. Rita says in her heavily accented English. She doesn't remember which Gin Blossom it was that came in that day (Jesse Valenzuela and Jim Swafford are credited with writing the song) , but she did a tarot card reading and a palm reading, at the end of which, she says, "they asked my permission to write a song."
And they did.
It was released in 1993 on their New Miserable Experience
CD. Mrs. Rita heard the song and says she likes it, even if the expression that plays across her face at that very moment belies her words. As the song climbed into the Top 40 on mainstream radio, people began thrusting their palms in Mrs. Rita's direction faster than she could count.
Since then things have slowed down a bit for her. She's still doing business reading tarot, reading palms, and sometimes providing psychic interpretations when called upon. It's been over 15 years since the Gin Blossoms immortalized her in song, and it still gives her a smile.
Overall, it seems the Gin Blossoms Miserable Experience
was anything but miserable for their muse.
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