I got to Maizee’s Café yesterday for the morning coffee marathon with the guys, and they were already telling each other, Rush says this and Sean Hannity says that. All of it parroted the right wing political thinking, “”hurrah for Reagan, Obama is a bum. Anyway, I was glad I was thirty minutes late. I’m not sure how much longer I will join the group. The talk grates on my thinking. You know, the correct progressive thought.

I tuned them out for a while, then at a slight break, I interrupted and said, “Wilbur, do you remember that time you told us about the Weekend Retreat your wife drug you to down below Santa Cruz? You said some mystic lady, Ophelia I think, zeroed in on you as her pet project that day. Did you ever go back for another one?”

“Oh, yeah. Retreat in the Sequoia’s they called it. It was back in the sixties when all kinds of those first started, at least in world. Change yourself to change the world. I got off on the wrong foot with Ophelia right away. We were just introducing ourselves around this circle of maybe thirty people. I admitted that I was just there for my wife. Ophelia read me immediately as a jerk who didn’t think he needed changing. Either that or my wife had already clued her in to that fact.”

The guys settled in with their coffee and he was off, “The first two hours was spent on intro’s, and most of the rest of them knew the code and the right answers. We had a refreshment break mid-morning, some drink made from seaweed. I’m serious, that’s what they told me. I could hardly wait to see what we would enjoy for lunch.”

“The second session began with—keep in mind that my wife had been involved and kinda knew what to expect and hadn’t warned me—a musical interlude with some march music where we formed a big circle like a Conga dance with our hands on the hipbones of the person in front of us. The lady in front of me didn’t have any hipbones that I could detect. I marched pretty half-hearted; I could see Old Warren, Ophelia’s husband, smirking at me from the sidelines. All I could think of was the thought of someone back at the plant seeing me. As a Division Manager, I had a reputation to uphold.”

Stop The Music! Ophelia stepped out and said, ‘For those of you who are new, there is a distinct purpose to this. Your ability to turn yourself loose and relax in some apparently childish exercise, (was she looking at me, are you listening, Wilbur?) are tied up in knots from a physic or physical sense. Now, let’s try it again and don’t be afraid, stressing the word afraid, to celebrate your body.’”

“Now she straddles a tom tom and starts beatin’ on it, and the circle breaks into an Indian war dance, knees high and stomping out the local ant population. My wife is across the way, killing more ants than anyone. I grabbed my chest, pretending heat exhaustion or something, and eased out onto the balcony outside for some air. Too soon, Old Warren slipped out and put his arm over my shoulder—I’ve always hated that—and said, ‘I told her you couldn’t take it.’”

“Shaking his arm off, I marched back in and exploded into action, part war dance and part hula. My fellow Indians slid away from me, and continued their fake dancing. I felt like a jackass, but suddenly my body started to feel pretty good. There was my wife across the circle; she’d stopped stomping and was giving me a thumbs up. I sashayed over toward Ophelia and asked her to speed up the beat a bit, and she did. There were some dropouts while she and I had our little battle. She won. I grinned and sat down.”

“The lunch wasn’t bad, too much green and no red meat at all. Still no coffee, just some herbal tea that tasted like medicine.

Next session, we met out under the trees where we were issued colored chalks and paper and instructed to separate to a private place and paint your feelings on to the paper. No music, no tom tom’s. Now me and chalk hadn’t had a close relationship since kindergarten, and when I make pictures, I use a T-square and a sharp 4 H pencil. I admired the trees for a while and finally did a stick figure sketch of a person standing on a sail board pulling another stick figure person behind on water ski’s.

After a half hour of communing with our feelings, we gathered again to explain our art work. I wasn’t first chosen. There were dissertations on gray clouds exhibiting concern for the world from one; another had scribbled a mess on paper that reflected her despair with the chaos in the world. Inevitably my turn came. I held up my masterpiece and said, ‘I feel pretty damned good.’ Ophelia smiled, a little.”

Back at Maizee’s, some idiot looked at his watch and said, “Time to break it up, Wilbur. Limbaugh’s on in five minutes.” We left Wilbur with the check and some tossed bills. He was finishing another do-nut. I think it was his fourth one that morning.

I’ve decided to come back to Maizee’s for at least one more session.

Gus Daum


About degus221

A Kansan who has migrated to Oregon.
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