just give me some old-time religion

Give me some of that old-time religion if for no other reason than to save me ten thousand dollars a year. Because I figure that's how much I've got to be blowing on all of my pagan rituals. My latest expense came in at about $100 for 20 minutes. Now, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it was a one-time deal, but as it turns out chiropractic care is not a quick fix; it requires numerous visits. So once again, I’m duped into the routine of spending inordinate amounts of money for self-improvement — to no end, of course.

Just once I would like to get some sort of carnally indulgent treatment and be done with it already, or at least until I really want to go back. These days it seems like all the activities I get mixed up in, not only require return visits, but if you don’t go back within two days, you are at risk for some sort of toxin poisoning.

Take for example colon hydro-therapy. Very few people wake up and say, “Today I want to have a stranger put two tubes up my anus—one pushing clean water in and the other sucking out the waste.” A pedestrian trip to the restroom will suffice for most, but life is rarely that simple for me, especially if there is a hook.

That time the enticement was one of those mesmerizing coupons at the beginning of the LA Weekly. You know the kind—if you say yes to more than three of the five questions, the service being advertised must have the answer to your prayers. I knew better than that, and even though I didn’t suffer from constipation, acne, irritability, headaches or exhaustion, ok, maybe sometimes, I was compelled to give it a try.

Like most firsts in life, a visit to the colon hydro-therapist is a bit awkward, mainly because you don’t know what to expect. How’s it going to fit? Will it hurt? What happens after you’re finished? I pondered these questions in the waiting room, while the scent of aromatherapy candles penetrated my nostrils. I wondered if the excessive infusion of lavender and chamomile was to mask the stench of what was going on in the room behind the door.

Alas, I was forced to cease my daydreaming and paranoia, which quickly turned to disconcertment when a white man came out of the room wearing mahogany hued loafers with tassels, of all things. Minutes later, a Russian woman called me into the same room—I recognized her from the ad, the one with penetrating eyes. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. But I couldn’t bask in the excitement because tassel man kept shooting me glances as he paid for the service. Feigning not to notice, I quickly gathered my things and stumbled into her office.

In a cheap attempt to conceal my fear and shame for what I was about to be a part of, I made a few lame jokes. The Russian was not amused and demanded that I lay on my back. While she unwrapped the tubes from a plastic bag, I noticed a medieval apparatus fiercely sitting next to me that I soon would be attached to. My heart was racing as I started to imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong in this situation, specifically, the water side getting confused with the excrement side, which undoubtedly would be leftover from the man who wore the funny shoes.

Without getting too graphic, a lot of water went in and shit didn’t come out, really. The woman in charge of the controls on the menacing machine told me that this was normal, but aloofly explained I would have to come back the next day lest I wanted to be poisoned by my own toxins which were floating around because the blast of water had loosened up everything. Suddenly, I felt like I was in an episode of Alias, in desperate search of an antidote, the only difference was that the remedy was under my nose, or between my legs, in a manner of speaking. Well, being a gambling woman, I decided not to return.

Among the other less threatening trends that have set me back over the years, some which have stuck and some more fleeting, was Brazilian waxing at $35 a month. But after one year of subjecting myself to rips and tears, compromising positions, not to mention bumpy skin and painful ingrown hairs, I decided to upgrade to laser hair removal. Again, it was a damned LA Weekly advertisement that sucked me in. Remarkably, I ended up being pleased with the outcome and only had to return every two months. With results like these I figured I’d give it a go on my nether region, as well. Legs will be next, so at this rate, it’s safe to say I’ve embarked on a lifetime investment.

There was also my one-month stint with Ayurveda. $400 plus supplements to correct my gassiness, which by the way, it didn’t, was probably the most frivolous expense yet. Fortunately, my foray in ancient Indian healing abruptly came to an end when I broke my ankle and couldn’t make it up the stairs to the practitioner’s office. Massage therapy eventually took its place at roughly one hundred dollars a session and was far more rewarding, that is until I became so friendly with the massage therapist that she would spend more time talking than massaging. Acupuncture was fun for a while too, but I got bored by out-of-the-loop strangers mistaking the cupping scars on my neck for telltale signs of domestic violence. Didn’t they see Gwyneth Paltrow proudly parading her purple spotted back on the red carpet!

So as I tally up all of my expenditures, I can’t help but think of religion and how my quest for physical perfection parallels pious people’s pursuit of God and the need to be a part of something. And as I’m being reprimanded: “You shouldn’t eat tomatoes.” Or “Don’t drink coffee; put it up your ass instead,” I seek solace in the fact that I’m not alone and not the only schlemiel looking for distractions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with my chiropractor. On second thought, maybe I should just go to confession; last I heard it’s free.

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