In the two years since my separation and ultimate divorce, I have learned exactly one thing per annum:
- You can’t count on nobody. (Mr. Editor: Please leave intact.)
- Everyone’s got an angle — and it’s an angle that directly benefits them.
Let me give you an example.
My buddy (and employee — watch out for the angle) Begunga Mike strolls into my office one day and sits down directly across from me. [For the story of how Mike got his Begunga moniker see my blog here.] He eyes me appraisingly, then crosses his humongous, sandled right foot over his left thigh. (No, we don’t have a dress code.)
This is a bad sign. It means he’s trying to enlist me in some sort of scheme, and of course the scheme addresses his needs as well as (allegedly) mine.
Mike is a tall and well-built guy, mid 30s, with an almost psychopathic self-confidence. He might be a Bosnian or Russian or maybe even German soldier in one of those cheesy Army flicks that play at 1 AM on the local infomercial station. High Slavic cheekbones, prominent and bumpy nose, direct and unflinching grey eyes, short, sometimes shaven scalp, and long, well-groomed digits above and below (the girls like his feet — that’s why he wears sandals) — all contribute to his air of supreme mastery of and dominion over all that he comes into contact with.
He thinks he’s funny, too.
He begins with his usual loaded question:
I haven’t ever steered you wrong, have I?
(Hint: “No” is not an acceptable answer.)
“Well, that depends on what you’re talking about,” I reply.
He blinks twice and cocks his head to the side, like a hungry raptor. I am already starting to feel uneasy.
“Seriously. You’re serious, right? Are you fu**ing kidding me?” He leans forward and spreads his arms out, palms up, in disbelief:
I told you how to get your ex off your ass and it worked, right? Tell me that it didn’t work — does she ever threaten you with her lawyer anymore? I thought not. Moot point. Done.
He leans back into his chair. “And how about with the dating thing? When you first split up you thought you would never meet a woman again. Remember that? No confidence — none — but I helped you out with the eHarmony thing and you’ve gotten nothin’ but tail since then — your ex hates you, you’ve done so well! Ha!”
He snorts, satisfied with his answer. I have to admit, I have gotten a couple of dates — so maybe what he’s saying makes sense.
“So what do you want from me today?” I reply, slyly, in my opinion. And then it came:
You know, John, it’s a shame we had to go through all of this. If you would just trust me, your life would be a lot happier. I’ve been thinking about you, my friend, even though sometimes I wonder why I bother. Check this out.
He flips a coupon onto my desk. It’s good for “unlimited free sessions for two weeks” at the local Hot Yoga salon.
How could I resist Mike’s pitch?
It’s time you got to the next level with your exercise and dating. This is the ticket. If you want to get into real shape, and not that sissy treadmill and five-pound-dumbbell, 52-year-old weak-man shape, you need to go to Yoga.
And if you ever want to date the Scottsdale girls, this is the only way it’s gonna happen.
I have some shorts and a mesh workout shirt at my desk. Dar-Dar [the office admin] is gonna let you use one of her mats — and we’ll bring her and CMO [one of the office managers] along so you don’t feel too stupid.
Your life is about to get much better. No need to thank me. Just get dressed.
There are those moments in life when you feel everything slipping away from you — you lose your compass, your defenses, your pride, and although you know it’s going to turn out really really badly, you can’t seem to resist the pending catastrophe. This is what I felt like during the ride to the studio.
Dar-Dar and CMO were reliably upbeat as we sped through traffic.
“You’re gonna love it, Johnny,” said Dar-Dar. “There are all kinds of different people there. ‘K’ [the instructor who gave Mike the coupon] is really nice and will work with you.”
“Yeah, and she’s good looking, too,” CMO said. The two girls smiled and giggled, just enough to make me suspicious.
“And wait until you see Camel-Toe!” Dar-Dar said.
“Camel what?” I asked.
My three fellow passengers were yuck-yucking and chortling. Mike, who was driving (naturally), leered across the front seat at me and said:
Yeah, you’re gonna like Ms. Camel-Toe. That’s for sure….
The scenery melted away as I fell into the clutches of a full-force panic. I could barely breathe, and my forehead was popping sweat. This was not the day I had imagined for myself when I had woken up that morning.
The studio, located in a nondescript yet modern shopping center, was a revolving door. Evidently everybody who was anybody came here to reach physical and spiritual Nirvana. The students, 90% women, were remarkably beautiful, pampered, fit, and serene. Those leaving flowed through the exit, freshly showered, beaming from the sustenance they had just received, while those entering almost glided, their muscular yet proportionate bodies a most gracious gift from the good Goddess Kundalini.
After we got into the crowded building Mike introduced me to K. She seemed a little more ebullient than most of the students, maybe a little more crass, definitely more high-test and outgoing. She had thick yet closely cropped auburn hair, and was wearing some sort of floral halter and skirt-type ensemble that showed off her tattoos — there was a plant or a tree or something that started behind her neck, then swirled down her left arm and side, shedding leaves as it went. When it finally re-appeared on the under side of her get-up, it was just a few stray leaves, browned by age, that stepped down to the bottom of her left leg and foot. There were little paw prints tattooed on her foot as well.
She shook hands with me firmly — and looked me right in the eye. Her voice was husky and bluesy and throaty. She welcomed me to the day’s class and said she would help me through the moves. Hot Yoga was for all skill levels, she said, so I needn’t worry. She smiled and her big green and brown-flecked eyes sparkled … but there was a certain coldness behind the twinkling lights, as well.
I chose not to notice the almost-hidden frostiness. I drew in a deep breath. She smelled like citrus and maybe the tiniest whiff of pot. I groaned involuntarily. Gawd, she was sexy!
I didn’t look but I could feel Mike grinning to my right. I had never imagined I would set foot into such an exclusive temple of the senses!
Just before we walked in the studio Dar-Dar told me I would probably want to take off my shirt:
It’s hot in there, Johnny. And steamy. You’ll be miserable in no time if you don’t take it off.
Of course I didn’t listen — there was no way I was taking my shirt off in front of these women.
I don’t remember much about the class other than I couldn’t do most of the exercises; I tried but it just wasn’t working. I had to lay down several times, during which K would pour water on me and knead my muscles, telling me to “center” and “live in the moment” and other such enjoyable nonsense.
Remember — this is all about you, John, and no one else … find your breath … sleep if you need … it will all come to you in time….
My shirt got shed in the first five minutes. Mike and Dar-Dar and CMO all laughed like crazy when I took it off. I was dying from the humidity, and it was totally stuck to me — so much so that I had to fight to get it over my head. I almost tipped over a couple of times.
I didn’t think about Camel-Toe or spend even one millisecond of time worrying about what kind of spectacle I was making. I was too busy fixating over whether anybody’s heart had actually exploded during a Yoga workout — because I was sure mine was going to.
Dar-Dar’s mat? She wrinkled her nose and told me I could keep it.
After our showers we stood in the lobby and luxuriated in the air-conditioning. Mike sprung for a $6.50 potassium-laden smoothie of some kind, which if nothing else, added nicely to the studio’s bottom line. He asked me what I thought of the experience.
“It was actually pretty good. It was different, that’s for sure. I’m glad I tried it, though,” I said.
“So let’s make you a member then,” he said. “I can get you a huge discount as long as you sign a one-year contract.”
“I’m not actually sure I want to keep doing this,” I replied. “I have nothing against it, but I think hiking and walking on the treadmill and doing push-ups and sit-ups is more my kind of thing.”
“Besides,” I said. “I have two weeks worth of free visits, anyway.”
Mike seemed angry or, at minimum, extremely irritated. He looked past me to the front desk. I turned around and looked as well. K was glaring at him. Suddenly it all made sense — what an idiot I was! K was getting Mike to recruit new members for her –evidently she was the salesperson for the studio — and she was giving him kickbacks for every new person he spun into her web!
Now it was my turn to glare at him — and Dar-Dar and CMO, too. Surely they were in on this whole thing. They sheepishly excused themselves, going out on the sidewalk so Mike and I could play this thing out:
What the f**k were you thinking, setting me up like that? What an a**hole you are! Did you think I was that stupid? That I wouldn’t figure this out?
He thought about it for a minute.
Well…I thought there was a pretty good chance you wouldn’t.
I mean, figure it this way: I got a kickback on the girls, and they could care less. They like coming here — just like all those other people from work. And you would too — if you weren’t such a crabby old bastard.
Besides — you didn’t think she actually liked you, did you?
He busted out laughing.
C’mon, Man…let’s go get a beer. Maybe we can find you the next Mrs. Nampion over in Peoria. What did you think of Camel-Toe, by the way?
Read more of John Nampion’s adventures!