Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome To My Spapartment.

The ocean.

It heaves up and heaves down, torn fro and to by the power of the moon. Often, when the tide is out, some fish find themselves stranded in a tide pool, confined in an area smaller than that which they are accustomed to.

The economy is like the ocean.

You may find yourself like the ocean fish, once able to swim free, but now trapped in a tide pool, making awkward conversation with those you formerly ignored and/or crushed. To you, I say two things. First, do not worry. The tide will return. The tide always returns. Therefore, by the transitive property, the economy will also return. Second, make the best of the NOW. You can no longer afford the most spacious spas, but why not enjoy your time in the tide pool while you can?

Welcome to my apartment. And, welcome to my spa. Confused? Don't be. They're the same place. You'll get all the amenities of a normal spa, but won't have to pay the exorbitant prices that locations dedicated only to spa-ing charge.

Welcome to the world's only Spapartment.

Upon getting buzzed into the building, you will take a brief exercise warm-up in which you walk up three flights of stairs. At apartment 3C, you will knock gently on the door. Imagine you are knocking on the door of your dreams. What is on the other side? That is up to you. A person's dream is like a person's social security number: unique, and kept private. Go ahead and knock gently again. If I don't answer the door immediately, I'm probably just saving my game. Give me a second. There's not always a save point when you need one.

When you enter the Spapartment, you may, if you wish, keep your shoes on. Have you ever been to a spa in which you may leave your shoes on? Probably not. In fact, we actually recommend you keep your shoes on. My roommate recently dropped a beer bottle, and there may still be a couple shards here and there. An oyster makes a pearl from a single grain of sand. There's some sort of connection between the oyster thing and the beer bottle thing, but I'll leave it to you to contemplate. (Bonus Zen koan: What's the sound of 3 hands clapping?)

Now comes the awkward portion. I will hint at the price of the spa treatment you are about to enjoy (mostly by making oblique references to "the price of things," and how "everybody needs to be paid") until you pay me. Once paid, I will lead you to my couch. You will lean back, eyes closed, and listen to the relaxing ocean sounds from the DVD menu of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Your mind will drift off to a far-away place, a small tropical island where the locals live free and happy, day to day, and speak a language in which there are no words for "refund" or "total rip-off."

Then the Spapartment skin-care regime will begin. My girlfriend has a wide variety of skin-care products of various colors and scents that she frequently leaves in my bathroom. I will apply them, one by one, to your face and neck as I read from the description on the bottle. "The Snohomish tribe knew the importance of blackberry honey on whiteheads," I will read, occasionally making an impressed "I didn't know that" sound, and cocking my head to the side. By the end of the skin-care regime, your face will have the delightful scent and youthful appearance of a brand-new Jamba Juice store.

Finally, the massage. The massage is an ancient Swedish practice, invented by tense Swedish samurai. Many other spas allow you to request a male or female masseuse. Here at the Spapartment, we have forgone that option: you will be massaged by a male masseuse (me). If you insist on a female masseuse I will make the same joke I always make and call you a "massage-onyst." After a few seconds of awkward chortling, I'll tell you to hurry up and get naked already.

Our specially formulated massage will hit all of your major pressure points. We'll start at the head. Did you know that 90% of all stress is located in the cranium? Our skull-shiatsu will get those stresses out. Then we'll move to your back. The uneven, arrhythmic jabs into your backside will remind you of a chorus of cherubs patting you on the back with their creepy little baby hands. Once you are convinced that not a single knot remains, we will work on your elbows and knees. 65% of all bending done in a normal day is done from either your elbows or your knees. These build up stresses over time that only our patented "Joint Whispering" can dissipate. It works basically how you'd imagine it would.

Finally, aromatherapy. The delicate smell of lilac candles and pepperoni Hot Pocket will fill your nose, magically teleporting you into a dimension that I call "The Soothing Dimension." Don't you wish you could live there? Stay there for about 5 minutes, while I finish eating.

Now that you are completely and utterly relaxed, it's time to leave the Spapartment. I will hand you a complimentary giftbag of hotel soaps, rubber bands, and soy sauce packets, and, since you're going to be walking right by the dumpster, a bag of garbage.

It's time to re-enter the real world.

Do you feel that?

It's pure bliss.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lie Detective

[Note: The following excerpt is from the pilot episode of "Lie Detective," appearing on CBS this fall.]

INTERIOR. OFFICE attached to INTERROGATION ROOM. Through a window into the interrogation room we see the CRIMINAL, sitting in a chair. The camera pans over to the door.

DETECTIVE PAUL EDWARD GRAFF enters. He is serene, a small smile on his face. Behind him enter CHIEF WITCOMB and OFFICER AMY PENNSYLVANIA. Both look exhausted.

AMY: We've got nothing on him. Normally I'd trust the knowledge I gained over years in the streets, or my women's intuition, but both have failed me. I think we're going to have let this perp walk.

CHIEF: I'd hate to see that bastard roam free. He just seems like the killer to me.

AMY: But when we asked him if he was the killer, he said he wasn't!

GRAFF: Hold up. When he said he wasn't the killer, he was lying.

AMY: Lying?

GRAFF: That's right. Telling a deliberate falsehood in order to deceive.

CHIEF: Well, he certainly wasn't resting on his back. Not in MY interrogation room.

GRAFF: Officer Pennsylvania, did you notice which direction he looked in when you asked him if he was the murderer?

AMY: To the...left, I think.

GRAFF: Exactly. Liars always look the left when they lie. It's fact that I've picked up over my years and years of studying the human face.

AMY: Weren't you snapping your fingers near the left side of his face?

GRAFF: If you were telling the truth, and I snapped my fingers near you, you'd ignore them, wouldn't you?

CHIEF: I know I would.

GRAFF: That's right. Another thing. Liars use the pre-frontal cortex to lie. While that portion of the brain is used to lie, other thoughts that would have been processed in the pre-frontal cortex are pushed to parts of the brain, like the Johnson's Oblongation. The Johnson's Oblongation is typically used to differentiate spatial relationships, and isn't equipped to deal with other thoughts.

CHIEF: Great. Where are you going with this?

GRAFF: Remember when I asked him what "To Kill A Mockingbird" was about?

AMY: Yeah, he said it was about a black man who was accused of raping a white woman, and the white man, Atticus Finch, who tried to defend him. That seems pretty close to me.

GRAFF: That's the problem. That's what happened in To Kill A Mockingbird. But it's not what it's ABOUT. The pre-frontal cortex, in addition to helping liars create lies, also is the part of the brain that understands symbolism. A person who was telling the truth during that interview would have used their pre-frontal cortex, un-hindered by nasty falsehoods, and told me that To Kill A Mockingbird is about that deep American ethic of honor, about reaching out to understand those different from ourselves, and about the corrosive nature of racism on both blacks and whites alike. He also forgot about Boo Radley. We've got a liar on our hands, Chief. And, based on his weight, I'd venture a guess that he's a big fat liar.

CHIEF: Good catch, Detective Graff.

GRAFF: One last thing. Did either of you notice his pants?

CHIEF: They were...khakis, I think. Right?

GRAFF: They were, but that's not what I'm getting at. Did either of you happen to notice that, near the end of our interview, his pants burst into flames?

AMY: Of course!

GRAFF: That spells liar, people. Go arrest him.

AMY: On what grounds?

GRAFF: Murder in the first degree, and perjury in the second degree. I taped a Bible underneath the table, where his right hand was.

CHIEF: Good job, Detective Graff.

GRAFF: I can tell from how you said that that you don't think it was a good job, Chief. You think it was a great job.

CHIEF: You got me there!