My wife was in heaven.
And I found myself scheduled for a slew of appointments.
I should note here, for the record, that I hate going to new places. I guess it comes down to seeing ‘doctors’ or other folks with whom I’m expected to share all sorts of personal details about my life and/or get naked in front of.
So when my wife said I was signed up to go see a naturopath, I balked at first. But she convinced me it was a good idea, and so off I went. It was close by, which I liked, and parking wasn’t an issue. What I didn’t like was I found myself parking in a residential neighborhood. Apparently this guy worked out of his house, which means not only is he going to get personal with me, but now I am being forced to get personal with him. It’s one thing to take your clothes off in a doctor’s office, sort of a neutral space, right? But in some guy’s basement? “I’m not taking my clothes off…” I muttered as I headed up the walkway.
Going only by the address on the scrap of paper I was given, I rang what I believed to be the appropriate doorbell. There was no sign of any kind anywhere to indicate that this was any kind of anything. I felt like a kid trying to sell candy-bars door to door. Finally the door opened and a skinny man poked his head out. He asked what I wanted and I said I was here for my appointment?… He indicated in heavily-accented English that I should have gone around to his backyard and rang the doorbell on the back of the house. He then closed the front door. I had apparently already broken a rule.
I walked around the front and between the neighboring house into the backyard. Still no sign, no indication whatsoever that I’m not totally intruding into someone’s private backyard. Finally I find a door and ring the bell. After a few beats, it opens and it’s like we didn’t just meet five seconds ago around on the other side of the house, all smiles and handshakes this time.
He invites me in, I come down the steps into his basement ‘offices’. I’m immediately instructed to remove my shoes and don some slippers.
Already the removal of clothing has begun, not a good sign.
I put the slippers on while I wait for someone else to leave. I think I wait like 40 minutes. I’m not sure how long it was because I was too busy freaking out about the room I was in, dark, and with some kind of plug-in crystal glowing in the corner, like the ones you see at the mall in those vitamin shops, but you never know anyone who actually OWNS one. Perhaps it’s supposed to send out good vibes.
My vibe-reader was only hearing screams.
Finally he invites me back to his office. In it are pictures of blood under a microscope, some kind of chart with a naked person on it sliced up into little sections (possibly for acupuncture?) and some other weird things in the room that I suppose I suppressed as I can’t recall them clearly, I just remember that they were there, and that I didn’t like seeing them.
In total I was there for something like TWO AND A HALF HOURS. It started out with me answering a million questions about myself. After he knew everything there was to know, including the fact that I was introverted and that people-time made me tired, he warned me that this this appointment might wear me out.
Then he hooked me up to a machine. It involved rubber straps around my ankles and wrists, and around my head, all connected by leads. And it involved removing my hat and my belt from my pants.
Clothing removal, stage two.
Apparently the metal in my belt would ‘interfere’ with the machine’s ability to read my ‘energies’. I’m pretty sure I saw this machine on Fringe. I was also asked to relinquish my cell phone, probably so that I could no longer call for help should this take a turn for the worse. Because seriously, let’s take stock of where I am right now:
1. Strange Man’s Basement
2. Partially Unclothed
3. Bound by Rubber Straps
I was doing everything I could to remain composed on the outside, but inside I was having a very difficult time processing this. The taking of the phone was not a comfort.
Then in order for the reading, I was to ‘calm myself’ for five minutes while the machine did it’s work. Considering that the inside of my mind was a typhoon at that moment, I was not confident of a good reading. However he offered to put on some relaxing music and wanted to know what kind of music I found relaxing. Buoyed for the moment by the thought that this was the real reason for the taking of the phone, and being the strange and backward creature that I am, I explained that I found death metal the most relaxing, and that my phone would provide a healthy selection.
I’m not sure that the term ‘death metal’ was covered by his Learning English as a Second Language teacher, needless to say he disregarded my suggestion entirely and used his phone to play some music that I can only describe as ‘floral’ and including ocean sounds.
I closed my eyes and tried to imagine heavier music but it didn’t work.
I then wondered if the machine could read my thoughts and if he was using it to gauge how best to kill me, based on the readouts, to learn my weaknesses, or perhaps to discover which parts of my body would work best in a stew.
Finally, in order, I suppose, to ‘bring me back gently’, he started whispering “…come back…” as he faded out the music by hand. Something about being whispered to…I don’t like it.
I don’t like it AT ALL.
I asked if I could now take off the rubber straps but he said no (nor did he use or refer to them again for the rest of the additional hour that I sat there, though I was required to keep them on). He then went over my ‘reading’ with me and told me all kind of stuff about myself, mainly stuff I had already told him earlier during our hour-long interview. He applauded my genetic makeup, making me emotionally invested in believing what he said (so I could feel superior about myself).
Finally it was over and I was allowed to remove the straps. I was forced to say what I hoped to accomplish by the herbal regimen I had been prescribed, I mumbled something about how I wanted to be less stressed. He made me do it three times until I phrased it just right, mainly I think to set him up so he could, in a natural way, say “and so it shall be”, as sort of a benediction to our session. Good thing I finally got the grammar right on that or we could have been there a while.
Lastly before I left he asked me if I was tired. I said that I was.
“I told you so,” he said with a knowing smile.
Editor’s Note – Just to be clear, the above experience is not normative with visiting a naturopath. Our intention is not to disparage the naturopathic profession. We’ve had lots of positive contact with naturopaths and continue to make use of them, just not the kind with weird machines.
Or that whisper to you.
NEXT WEEK, ON THE CRUNCHY DUNGEON: