When you’re young and you’ve just started a new marketing firm, you can tend to be naive about who you take on as a client. The day I learned this, I was humbled. Indeed, as I sat in a dim room with my boyfriend, a strange, naked man, Enya playing in the background, punching myself in the temples, I was very humbled. And on the verge of a goddamned breakdown, no holy.
It was a lovely summer morning when my boyfriend and I headed out to meet our new, prospective client. He’d explained to us that he was a therapist of sorts with his own practice. We were unsure what “of sorts” meant, but we were eager to add a new client to the roster of our brand new, promising marketing business.
We arrived at his home to a barrage of barking terriers. There must have been 7 or 8 identical, tiny white terriers yelling at us through the front gate. We braved the herd and rang the doorbell and a few moments later, we were staring at a voluminous fur-sweater, slightly parted by a gold chain, bursting out of a pink kimono.
Looking up, I met the man’s eyes. They sparkled, and I swear I heard a “ting!”. He looked like a more feminine version of Anderson Cooper, and slightly taller. He passed a lit cigarette from one limp-wristed hand to the other, and reached out to shake ours.
“You must be Courtney… and you’re Juan? Barry. Charmed, I’m sure.” He said with a silken voice. He turned, and with a flick of the wrist, said “Come, lovelies. Let me show you my dojo.”
Juan and I looked at each other, shrugged and stepped into Barry’s home.
Looking around, I felt like I was in one of those new age shops with the bead curtains and the sitar music playing in the background. Cheap spiritual and religious trinkets were everywhere. The place smelled of incense and Drakkar Noir.
“Let me guess, Courtney. You’re a crantini girl.” Barry shooed his pack of dogs from his feet.
“Sure, I like a good crantini from time to time.” I lied through my teeth. Godless Mom is a beer person and I rarely stray.
“Can I fix you one? Juan do you like Manhattans?” Barry may not have been aware what time it was, nor the fact that this was a business meeting and Juan and I did not work for Sterling Cooper Draper Price.
“I’m okay, but thank you.” I replied and Juan chimed in with a “Me too.”
“I hope you two aren’t going to be a couple of sticks in the mud. Teehee”. He said, raising the tips of his fingers to his mouth. He literally said, “teehee”.
“What sort of therapy do you do, Barry?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“Settle down! Let me show you my dojo first!”
I’d been sure he had meant home when he said dojo the first time. Now, I was aware, he actually had a dojo.
“Sure thing, Barry. You lead the way.” Juan looked at me intensely.
Barry started walking toward the back of his house. By walking of course, I mean floating. He sailed down the hall, with his pink kimono flowing behind him, taking puffs on his cigarette and holding his hands up limply. He led us to a back sliding door and out into a courtyard littered with plants and flowers that were being kept company by more cheesy religious and spiritual decor and a few garden gnomes, pink flamingos and lots and lots of gaudy wind chimes.
“Right this way, darlings.” Barry waved a limp hand over his shoulder.
There was a shed or guest house in the back of the yard. It was painted purple and had a large wooden sign above the door which read, in pink glittered letters, “Barry’s Dojo”.
He sent his kimono into a spin as he turned, waved a half-assed wave at the structure, and said, “Ta-da! My dojo! Isn’t is gorge?”
“Gorge?” I asked.
“Oh! Yes, of course. I love the pink.”
He ushered us toward the door, asked us to remove our shoes and escorted us in.
It was dimly lit, with all the curtains drawn on all the windows. There was even more cheap Buddhas and Ganeshs and crystals and incense holders. The smell of marijuana was pouring out of the walls and wafting up from the carpet.
“Have a seat, guys!” Barry pointed to the floor. I plopped down cross-legged after Juan did and pulled out my notebook.
“Oh, don’t be silly, honey. We won’t be needing that today.” Barry sat cross legged facing us. “Today, I just want to show you what I do.”
“What is it that you do?”
“I’m glad you asked.” Barry clapped his hands together. “Okay! I do what is called the Emotional Freedom Technique. Have you heard of it?”
“No”, Juan and I both said in unison.
“Well, it’s going to be such a special day for you two!” More clapping. “I want you to close your eyes. Good. Now raise your hands to your head and tap your temples with your index fingers.”
I opened one eye a slice as I tapped my temples and saw he’d gotten up to put on some music.
“Keep tapping, sweethearts!” The room suddenly filled with the whiney sound of Enya.
Work it. Own it.
Peeking again, I saw him remove his kimono and reveal a tiny, glittery, pink banana hammock. The man was as naked as you can be without being totally naked. He turned and I saw it was a g-string. I could feel the need to laugh welling up inside of me. I bit my lip and tapped.
“I hope you guys don’t mind, but I took off my housecoat, kay? I like to be as natural as possible when I work. I like to feel the freedom on my skin.”
I let out a small peep. I couldn’t help it. My hand shot up to my mouth, and, thinking quickly, I faked a sneeze. “Sorry. Allergies.” I offered.
“It’s okay, sugar. Just keep tapping. Tappa-tappa-tappa! Do you feel that, you guys? Oh my god, right?” He said as he sat down facing us again, the hammocked banana flopping and jiggling as he did.
“What is that, Barry? The feeling?” I tried to ask in such a way that he didn’t catch on I felt nothing but the urge to roll on the weed-stinky floor and laugh my clothed ass off.
I heard Juan snort, and knew he was trying to hold back laughter, too. It made it harder for me to contain myself and my face must have looked like that of a pooping child. Just strained.
“That’s emotional freedom, you guys! Hence, ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’! Isn’t it fantastic?”
I let out a squeak and bit my lip harder. Juan must have heard it because he coughed, clearly trying to cover up a laugh. I was breathing heavily now, trying so hard not to just completely dissolve into hysterics.
“So, that’s what I do. You guys can stop, now.”
We both opened our eyes and avoided looking at each other or the glittery bean bag, knowing full well the moment we did, would be the moment we unravelled. I had begun to start pinching myself, I was sure I was not going to be able to make it.
“That’s incredible, Barry. So, you offer this service to your clients?” I asked, holding back so much laughter that my voice sounded like a woman in labour.
“No. No more, today. It’s a lot to take in for our first meeting. I just wanted you guys to know what I do, and let it kinda sink in for a couple of days. Can we meet again then?” Barry was a serious businessman, it seemed.
“Of course, Barry!” I could hear the relief in Juan’s voice. He looked at me with eyes that appeared to say, “thank god!”. No holy.
Knowing I was going to be able to get out of Barry’s dojo fairly soon, the laughter building inside of me started to subside. He led us, still dressed in just a sparkly, pink grape smuggler, through the backyard again, back through his herd of tiny yappers, and back to his front door.
We turned to shake his hand before leaving, but no sooner than we could get our hands out, Barry interrupted.
“Do you guys like Enya? Wow, right? Emotions.” Barry closed his eyes, shook his hips and snapped his fingers over his head. The pink sausage sling bounced and slapped against Barry’s thigh.
That was it. I was sure I was going to lose control. I looked down into my bag and pretended to rummage for my keys. Looking straight down, I began to laugh silently, and was on the verge of total collapse when Juan noticed my state.
“We do! Nice to meet you Barry.” He rescued me. I looked up smiling huge, tears streaming from my eyes and said, “Yes, nice to meet you! We’ll be in touch about the next meeting.”
I turned and started walking away. Juan followed. I was so close to freedom. So close to being able to let it all out.
“Tapping will take care of those allergies, Courtney!” Barry called after us. “Your eyes look awful!”
And then it happened. I started to laugh so hard it sounded like I was crying. I fumbled with the gate. Juan was laughing, too now, and it seemed to take an eternity just to get that fucker open. We finally did, and ran to the car howling, hopped in, slamming the doors behind us and completely melted down. We couldn’t breath. We had tears streaming down our faces and we were clutching our sides in pain. We were hyperventilating and grabbing each other for steadiness. We squealed and snorted and howled for at least 5 minutes. I have never, and will never again laugh as much as I did in that car outside of Barry’s dojo.
I started the car and pulled away and just as Barry’s house was out of view, Juan asked, “Wanna listen to some Enya? Emotions!” and I was rendered useless with hysterics once again.