It's a homeopathic convention mixed with a sprinkling of organic food vendors. After my recent "health" scare, I'm attending because there maybe something I could eat or purchase that would prevent future acid reflux.
Of course I could just try table spoons of baking soda mixed with a glass of warm water, but where's the fun in that?
The rep warms up, expounds upon the virtues of his all natural berry drink.
Her eyes watch me hungrily.
A minute later I'm complaining about all the "quacks" to Mr. C when a Russian jeweler, stand covered in "power stones" overhears me.
"My friend, you don't believe in biofeedback?"
"I believe other people believe in biofeedback. I don't believe an electrical machine from Dr. Frankenstein's lab will solve my problems."
"No problem," the Russian gushes, "I love cynics! Would you like to try a test?"
I shrug. The Russian has me place my feet together and hold out my left hand, he places a hematite stone with a hollowed center in my palm. He instructs Mr. C to watch. "Now I am going to push on your right hand, you try to resist me."
I nod as he starts pushing, I remain standing. Then he removes the stone from my palm and pushes - I stumble.
"There you see! Stone makes you stronger. This is scientific, my brother in law from Russian space program invented it!" He points to a photo of a group of Russian cosmonauts. "My brother in law has been experimenting with energy, and he has found certain stones have energy waves that strengthen the body."
I raise an eyebrow. "How do I know you just didn't push harder the second time?"
The Russian is ready for this, he looks at Mr. C, who appears confused. "I don't know Brian, I think he was pushing harder the first time."
We try it again, but this time the Russian has a pressure gauge. I hold the stone and he pushes, gauge in hand. Pressure 50. I put the stone down and he pushes a second time - once again I topple over. Pressure 35.
"There you see my friend, I actually push harder first time. These stones are mathematically aligned with geometric formulas that enhance strength."
I don't have a ready explanation - could be the gauge is rigged, could be some kind of judo move that he uses when he wants to throw me off balance.
"How much are you selling these for?" I ask.
"May I ask what you do?"
"I'm a teacher."
"Well, because you are a teacher, and teachers don't have much money, $100."
I thank him for his time. He hands me his card, he claims he has his own jewelry shop, he just comes to homeopathy conventions to spread the word and for "fun".
"I don't do this for the money."
I nod. "Five dollars then?"
Outside a group of people of all ages have formed a drum circle. A belly dancer twirls a pair of hulu-hoops around her body as a drum circle leader directs the drummers, they strike their drums in a frenzy before he quiets them down in a rhythmic hush.
The hippies and granola are like anti-conservative spray, as liberal as I am even I'm starting to get a little dizzy. It's "spiritual-materialism", an intoxicating spiritual blend of shopping mall sentimentality, a hippie Disneyland for those who prefer their spirituality light and airy minus all the difficulties of mediation and sacrifice.
A couple days later I talk about it at work, mostly to make fun of it. Karen, who was with me at the convention, tries not to get offended.
"Leiken, you slept on the crystal mat, didn't you feel better afterward?"
"Of course I did, the mat was heated and it was comfortable. I had a nice nap."
"You were supposed to meditate."
"It was only $550. Why didn't you purchase one?"
Karen shakes her head. "I pity you Leiken. You are so closed minded you can't believe in anything."
No easter bunny.
No Santa Claus.
And no Uncle Mikey!