I’m burning up with resentment, an emotional response that is ignited anytime I can see that some other lucky bum has a talent that I do not possess. When those familiar feelings and thoughts of inferiority hit, I have one stock response: to denunciate everything related to that particular skill and the person who possesses it. In this case, that person is my partner, Victoria. Let’s begin.
I asked my darling for the definition of ‘Feng Shui’. I didn’t need perfect Mandarin pronunciation; just a simple elucidation on the exact meaning of two accursed words that have haunted me my entire life. Loyal readers, it is not hyperbolic on my part to say that the nightmare that is the paranormal phenomenon called ‘Feng Shui’ has been nothing less than the bane of my existence.
It all started on the day of my birth. The doc gave my fogies the all clear to take me home. My father was in a mood because my hair was red and there hadn’t been a ginger in his family since his great great uncle Marty Sekl back in Poland. Marty spent his last days in a Russian gulag in the late nineteenth century after being caught soliciting for sex in a public toilet in Warsaw. The problem was, two days after checking in to the gulag he was caught soliciting for sex in the bathroom there as well (apparently the local convicts had a thing for red ringlets- I forgot to mention there was an Hasidic branch of my Polish tree), so Marty spent his last days separated from General Population. I only have to say the word ‘Marty’ and my father collapses in a disturbed cocktail of despair and embarrassment. Suffice to say, when my father saw the first signs of red hair on my softened dome, he went into a tailspin, neglecting the task my mother had assigned him, which was to go straight home after my birth and get my room ready.
As a result, the first room that would ever be called my own was a shambles. Old, dilapidated pieces of furniture lay scattered about, as if upset by a tornado. My older brother’s seamy collection of Hustler magazines were piled high in a corner, favourite editions marked by little squares of paper stuck on the top of the cover, on which was written the reason for his liking for that particular issue. He never used sticky tape to attach those little pieces of paper… I’m not prepared to speculate on how they were affixed but he did go on to invent the Post It in later years. God bless him. Also clogging up my future sleeping area was my father’s 24 volume Oxford Dictionary set. The word set, by the by, has the longest definition in that dictionary, running over 20 pages of tiny text in length. It is Saxonal in origin, dating back to…
My father lost his virginity at 44. Which explains his moodiness at the sight of my red locks and, more importantly, his concomitant suspicion and sulking upon the revelation of my mother’s two pregnancies. But the story of our local milkman is for another day.
Let us return to the arrangement of my room. My mother, horrified at the sight of the rubble which confronted her when she got back to our house, began to scream at my father, telling him there was no way I could sleep in there. When my father pointed out that my cot, randomly placed in the centre of the chaos, was ready for use, and that my idiot 1-day old brain would not notice what was around it, my mother’s rage only intensified. It was then that I, and my father, were first exposed to the phrase: “it’s all wrong ENERGETICALLY!”
Energetically. My father rejected the concept outright, silently scorning the idea as he begrudgingly cleared out my room, hurriedly tucking the Hustler omnibus into a secret compartment under the spiral staircase that was unknown to my mother. We moved across town a couple of years later, my father having completely forgotten about his little cache. It’s comforting to know that my brother’s rich inner life will be known to generations centuries from now. Some things must not be lost.
My mother had never heard the term Feng Shui. She doesn’t even use chopsticks. But instinctively she had a feel for an art in which my girlfriend now owns a third degree Black Belt, a belt with which she never fails to slap the hell out of me. The first time we went back to my place, in the throes of passion, clothes coming off at a dizzying pace, Victoria suddenly declared that “there would be absolutely no salami hiding” on my bed (okay, the salami part is my invention- she mentioned something about “lovemaking”, a concept she later explained to me) as long as it stayed the way it was. I asked her what the flock she was talking about. “What?? Don’t you know that a bed should never be behind the door?!” After indulging in a blank stare for a few moments, we set about moving the bed away from the door, during which time I accidentally farted and threw my back out.
No “love making” occurred that night. My victimization at the hands of Feng Shui and its most evil practitioner, Victoria, had begun.
Since then, I’ve been forced to take down photos of my family in the bedroom – “hey moron, don’t you know that it’s bad to have people watching you while you sleep?” – I’ve lowered the pictures hanging on my walls – “you frigging idiot, they’re hanging too high, it makes your ceiling look too low” – I’ve shifted the bed (and threw my back out a second time, all the while controlling my flatulence) to face the door – “you drooling troglodyte, you need to be able to see if someone comes in” – all with the desire to please my disdainful soul mate.
But she’s never pleased. On the contrary, as time goes on, her contempt for my lack of spacial and energetic awareness only deepens in intensity. This woman would make Eskimos cry in their igloos (“that’s an AWFUL place for that mound of stored polar bear fat, you nose-pressing dolts”). I live in a constant state of terror, all due to two seemingly harmless Chinese words.
Six thousand years ago, people in the area we now know as China began to build dwellings with a focus on their place in and relationship to the Universe, using as a reference the stars, bodies of water and the directions later defined by the magnetic compass, a device actually invented for the application of Feng Shui. As I write these words, I realize that my goal of denunciating this black magic and the woman I love who practices it has not been attained. In fact, I’ve once again fallen pathetically short- it’s not easy making a mockery of someone who continues a tradition rooted in, amongst other things, the invention of the freakin’ compass.
You know what? Screw the compass. I’m not a member of the Scouts. I can do without knowing which way is north.
If I can just, pretty please, have my life back.
Rest in peace, Marty.