‘A Majestic Beast Reduced’

If you haven’t read Christopher Hitchenslatest piece in Vanity Fair yet, get on that ASAP. In it, he spends some hard time at a posh spa resort in an effort to come to terms with what might well be the most unhealthy lifestyle in Christendom. It’s hilarious. I ran it by a businessman friend of mine whose vices line up nicely with those of the Hitch, thinking he’d find it funny. Instead, it depressed him.

“The poor bastard,” he said. “He comes to America, and see what we do to him. It’s like watching Shamu do flips so some trainer in a wetsuit will flip him a herring. Sad to see such a majestic beast reduced in that way. Part of you really wants to see him eat the handler instead.”

This is the first in a series, so we may see a handler eaten before it’s over.

I tend to view New Agey treatments with extreme skepticism, so I’m with Hitchens on his conclusion. I once went to an accupuncture clinic in Cambridge for a story. I lay there for an hour while an admittedly very nice woman stuck needles in me while Bach cello sonatas played in the background and some kind of incense was burned. It was all relaxing enough. But then I went to the supermarket immediately afterward. Within eight seconds of being needlessly bumped into and obstructed by my fellow shoppers, every muscle in my body was converted, like Hitchens says, into mussel, and the treatment quickly and noiselessly fell victim to good old fashion urban apoplexy. I recall it was quite a relief to be back to my old self.