July 21, 2014


Feng Shui has got to be the most bizarre conceit to emerge from the 90s “New Age” craze.
For the uninitiated, Webster defines “feng shui” as “as system of geomancy employed in China to bring practice into harmony with natural forces.  Evidently, in China it is used primarily to locate houses and gravesites.
Okay, I can see that.  It certainly would be out of harmony with nature to locate deceased Uncle Alvin in a flood zone or a house over a swamp.  However, feng shui has, over the years, migrated into interior decorating.  There are even specialists you can hire to come into your home and relocate the bric-a-brac to create a more harmonious arrangement.
These are not really specialists, however they may try to make you believe it.
These are the decorators who flunked out of decorating school and took correspondence courses from the Mom’s Mabley School of Interior Design.  In short, they have no clue whatsoever, but they can do whatever they want, using “a harmonious imbalance” as an excuse for planting geraniums in your bathtub.
Now, understand, I am not an interior decorator.  I never claimed to be, so when we bought our house, I tried to get a professional decorator to help me forthwith.  As luck would have it, not one decorator would be available for a “consultation” (read that: “a conversation followed by a bill payable in gold bullion”) until mid-2027.
I was beside myself until Harriet, my new neighbor and a Los Angeles transplant, stopped over for coffee one morning and, upon hearing of my predicament, came to the rescue.
“I have a marvelous decorator, sweetie,” she chirped.  “He’s just a gem, and he’s available.”
I jumped at it. Why I didn’t think to ask, "If he’s such a gem, why is he available?" I'll never know.
I suppose I was desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.
We set up an appointment for 3:00 the next afternoon.
Promptly at three, a mid-fifties model lavender Cadillac with 12-foot tailfins and copper chrome docked in our driveway.
“Expecting hookers?” I asked my husband.
I quickly saw the error of my question when “Marco” flounced from the car.
I stepped outside to greet him.
 “Isn’t that just an edible color?” he burbled, indicating the Lusitania with a turquoise-encrusted finger.  “I feel just like royalty behind that wheel!”
I could see that.  You couldn’t look at him and not have “queen” immediately leap to mind.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
His attire stacked up to the image, too.  He wore a black leather shirt with mink at the collar and cuffs, layer upon layer of gold chains that would make Mr. T. weep, lavender silk pants, and Italian shoes that were so pointed, he needed a weapons permit to wear them.  It was the first time I’d ever seen stiletto toes.
He bounded into the living room, gasped, and clutched his heart.
“OH.  MY.  GOD!” he punctuated.
I was sure he was having a heart attack.
“What the matter?  Do you want to sit down?”
“Sit DOWN?!  Darling, I’ve LOVE to sit down – but WHERE?”
“Here’s a chair, right here,” I said.
“I’d rather die,” he assured me, fanning himself with his hand.  “No offense.”
”Oh, none taken.  What’s there to be offended by?” I asked, trying to remember which of the carving knives I had sharpened recently.
 “This room, for one thing,” he muttered.  “It’s an outright ASSAULT, dear.”
I sighed.  It was going to be a long consultation.
“BUT,” he declared, “let’s try to our best to remain positive.”
Sure.  I was already positive I didn’t like him.  Positive was no problem.
“NOW, it’s time to make the doughnuts!” he said, shedding his leather shirt. 
Underneath he wore a Freddy Mercury t-shirt and seeing that he had good taste in music made me revise my negative opinion a bit. 
“Would you be a perfect LAMB and go get Alfredo for me?”
“Who is Alfredo?”
“He’s my assistant, of course, and he’s in the car.  Just let him out, and try not to annoy him, Okay, hon?”
I slunk out to the Pimpmobile and opened the door.  Out stepped Utah.  I’d never seen anyone so gigantic in my life!
“Er, Marco wants you.”
“K,” he grunted, as only a Troglodyte can.
Alfredo had to get on his knees to make it through the front door, and bending at a ninety-degree angle from the hips was the only way he could avoid bashing his head through the living room ceiling.
I suddenly had visions of barehanded demolition, a concern that I voiced to La Marco.
“Oh, no, silly!  `Fredo moves furniture!”
“‘Fredo is furniture,” I mumbled.
“Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ll get going here.  I just hate, hate, HATE to be watched while I’m working.  It SO disrupts my harmonic flow!”
I left.
Doors closed.
Chaos reigned.
Three hours later, Marco emerged, patting his hair back into place; followed by Alfredo, who was a walking wall of stinking sweat.  How the harmonic flow dealt with that is anybody’s guess.
Alfredo went back to the car, leaving only minimal devastation in his wake.
Marco flung a leather-clad arm about my shoulders and, in a heads-together confidential fashion, said, “Oooooooh, darling!  I’ve transformed lost causes before, but THIS is truly my masterpiece!  Your living room is now a showplace . . . a MONUMENT to feng shui!  There is no way anyone with a pulse can occupy that space and not feel the energy, the purity of natural harmony at its finest!  You’ll just never want to leave, I promise you!”
I was trembling in anticipation as I stood in front of the closed door.
 “Okay, Dorothy--get ready to step out of the black and white and into a new and dazzling world!” he cried, dramatically flinging open the door.
Oh, it was a new world, all right.
It looked like the kind of world a colony of drunken beavers would claim as their own.
He had moved every stick of furniture into the far left corner of the room.  That meant that there were plenty of places to sit, but no way to get to them, stacked as they were.
“Doesn’t that corner placement look cozy and intimate?” he blathered.
The profound state of shock in which I found myself prevented a coherent reply.
There was no way I’d want to be that intimate with a guest.  Hell, I wouldn’t want to be that intimate with my husband!  However, my inability to speak prevented a full and detailed expression of these sentiments.
Next, he dragged me over to my beautiful picture window that he’d covered up with the large framed mirror he’d taken down from above the fireplace.  “That mirror is PERFECT right there.  It’s just the right angle and distance from the door, plus it will reflect the intimate corner grouping.
Swell.  We could all watch ourselves struggling to converse while desperately trying to avoid inadvertent sexual positions.
This was getting more perverted by the second.
“AND,” he exclaimed, steering me to the far right corner, “you were DESPERATELY in need of a wind chime in PRECISELY this corner.  Lucky for YOU I happened to have one in my bag!”
Thank God for that!  It’s nice to know that some people are still prepared for those pesky wind chime emergencies.
To complete the destruction, he led me to my pride and joy, our huge natural fieldstone fireplace, which was now painted neon green . . . mostly.  He’d painted two of the stones purple.
After he revived me, the only question I could manage to croak out was, “What’s with the two purple stones?”
“DARling!  It’s a motif!”
“A motif!  The last I knew, a motif was a repeating pattern!  This does not constitute a motif.  This constitutes a mind that is severely disordered and possibly dangerous.  This constitutes behavior that is undoubtedly actionable!”
That’s me . . . arguing semantics with someone who has yet to experience the agonies of actual thought.  If I had been on the Titanic, I’d have probably been below deck, bailing with a coffee can.
“WELL!” he huffed.  “I cannot BELIEVE that your NEIGHBOR, Harriet, who has the BEST taste of anyone I’ve ever KNOWN, recommended ME to the likes of YOU!”  He threw his invoice at me, then, in tears, he fled to his car.
Believe it or not, I subsequently discovered that Harriet does, indeed, have great taste.  The secret is in regular basting and not letting her cook too long.

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