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Feng Shui

I've got bad feng shui. Found out last week from Freddy, my feng shui guy. You can tell how pretentious you are by the number of "my people" in your life: my gardener, my plastic surgeon, my feng shui guy.

Chi comes from a word meaning "almost half of Chinese." It also means "wind water," and can we really trust these people with the Olympics?

Freddy didn't warm to my house. It started with the unflushed toilet and went downhill from there. He pranced through the halls, smoldering his sage at my Trouble Spots.

"All these browns and blacks," he said. "Are you shooting for depression?"

I kept my mouth shut, which any married man will tell you is good feng shui.

Freddy recommended some depression-free colors -- eggshell, moccasin, alice blue -- but none of them sounded heterosexual. So it goes.

Freddy followed his divining nose through my home, saying tisk-tisk. No. Really. The actual words: "tisk, tisk." The laundry on my Stairmaster meant that my mind is cluttered (to say nothing of my waist). The TV in my bedroom prevented a good night's rest. The gnats above my sink said it's time to do the dishes.

Freddy didn't see the humor in my garden gnomes or the painting above my toilet -- Kurt Vonnegut's version of the sphincter.

"Come on," I said. "Most people think it's an asterisk."

Tisk tisk.

Here's a question: What's the difference between feng shui and, say, obsessive-compulsive disorder? Maybe Howard Hughes was a feng shui master...

"You'll close the front door with a Kleenex, but not the first Kleenex, the third. Except on Fridays, when I visit with Rain Man..."

Freddy was "shoulding" all over the place. Dinettes should have copper near the base. Bedrooms should not be above the kitchen, which upsets the chance of childbirth (oh, if contraception were that easy). Your bed should face the rising sun, a direction that varies over the year, the point being to always carry a compass.

Runny faucets represent a loss of fortune, as evidenced by how much I was paying Freddy. Wilting plants are bad feng shui; burning the hillside indoors is not.

In the office, place your lamp on the right side of the computer if you are right-handed, and if you are left-handed, seek help immediately. Before turning on your lamp, blink three times and say, "Om mani padme hum." If you live in the southern hemisphere, reverse the order of everything.

You'll need an aquarium, but it must contain feng-shui-certified fish purchased, in person, in Taiwan. The fish will swim in directions dictated by their horoscopes.

We returned to the living room, where Freddy gasped in alice blue. Exposed beams! Turns out that financial strain comes from exposed beams. How much strain depends on the height of the ceiling, the type of wood, and WHAT KIND OF JOB YOU HAVE.

Freddy recommended, with a straight face, that I knock out a wall and remodel. I listened, with a straight face, as he walked away stroking his emerald pendant, a talisman to keep away the sane. Freddy is no longer on the list of "my people." He has since been replaced by "my guard dog."

Feng shui goes on to dictate what you should eat, the scent of your clothing, when to procreate and how. If you stick with it, though, you will find your life evolving to accommodate the mystifying ways of the chi. You're getting the hang of it when your home is simplified to four padded walls and a box of Kleenex.


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