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The Neapolitan Mastiff: On Meditation

On the train home from work I came across an article on the benefits of meditation. I decided there, amidst the breastfeeding children, drug-addled transients and Blackberry-consumed businessmen and women, that I too, would practice meditation and reap its rewards.

In the past I’ve dabbled with meditation: once at the demand of a deeply disturbed and sadistic lover (that’s another story) and another time after climbing to the top of Mount Heliotrope with a pharmacologist named Vince who threatened suicide if I didn’t join him. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience, it’s that one doesn’t hastily jump into a meditation session. It’s important to prepare. Without a disturbed lover or a suicidal mountain climbing pharmacologist, I figured the best way to prepare myself would be with a steam shower.

While the water came to a boil, I prepared a mix. My goal was to meditate for twenty minutes and I didn’t want to hear the miscreant children of the neighborhood playing “Gangbanger” and pretending to curb kick each other. Or worse, sometimes in the early evening my neighbor, in the apartment above me, has long conversations with her cat, Kitty Perry. “Oh Kitty Perry, what am I to do?!?” I don’t know my neighbor’s name because the cat never responds.

I carefully selected my twenty minutes of music. At first I picked sang-froid and cerebral jams a la Beach House and Beirut, but by the time I was out of the “Bs” I decided something prosaic sounding might be better for zoning in/out. Something like Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” or Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R.”

In my steam shower, I inhaled deeply and relaxed as the vapors percolated through my pores. I ran through possible mantras and thought about my wardrobe for the twenty minutes of peace or, which would lead to peace that lay ahead. After I had sufficiently opened my lungs and pores, I picked my wardrobe: breathable spandex shorts that I bought during the time I was training to run the Boston Marathon (never came to fruition, but you can really get a good stretch in those things, it’s almost dangerous), next I tied a bandana around my wet head so as to prevent a wisp of hair or a bead of sweat from distracting me from finding Nirvana, etc. Lastly, I put on the vest of an old suit I purchased for my brother’s high school graduation in 1998. As was the fashion then, it’s a little baggy, very shiny and it hasn’t been worn in over a decade. I’m keeping it because I’m pretty sure baggy, shiny vests will return to vogue before my lifetime ends and this way I’ll be prepared. Plus, I can spare the closet space. Vests aren’t very big, as you know.

Suited up and ready for peace and serenity, I laid a towel on the floor. Next, I carefully lowered myself to my towel-covered, forest green, shag carpeted floor. On my back, I sprawled out, fully extending my limbs. This is going to be glorious, I thought. Just as I was getting ready to sail off into a blissful state of nothingness I heard, “Kitty Perry, why are you the only one in the world who understands me?”

This would not stand. I shot up like an arthritic and beaten boxer to put on some music. Just as I was about to start my “Total mental relaxation and future cognitive dominance 11/3 Mix” I realized that it might not be a bad idea to relieve myself. Meditating, you see, is like going to see a movie. The last thing you want to do is get up in the middle to go to the bathroom.

Slightly discouraged, but still willing to salvage my future meditation, I trotted off to the bathroom. Mid-relief, remarking at what a wonderful job that Filipina woman does every week turning my toilet from something that belongs in a brothel to something belongs in the Vatican Museum, I spotted a brown spider on the top of my toilet.

I took a shallow breath and leaned back. I surveyed both sides of me. There wasn’t a bat in sight; I’d have to settle for a tissue-suffocation murder. I deftly ripped a bit of toilet paper, and then coming from above, careful to not lead with a shadow, I pounced and suffocated that spider to death. Right there on the top of my toilet. I threw his remains in the bowl and was thinking about his slip-n-slide ride to San Bernardino when I spotted another spider, also brown, but this one was larger. He was about twenty-one inches above my head. I looked at my right arm, “It’s just you and me buddy and we might only get one shot at this thing, so you better make it count.” The spider was still there, I couldn’t tell if it was mocking me or blind of the fact that I intended to end its life. I flexed my quadriceps a few times to warm up and then pounced, leading with my right hand.

But I missed! I misjudged! I over-shot my landing and my hand smacked a sticky yet spider-less patch of the wall. I stepped back and quickly assumed the low stance of a sumo wrestler. The impact of my hand had sent the spider falling to the toilet where it scurried down the wall and behind a trashcan. “This is it buddy, moment of truth,” I said to myself. I was just about to attack when I wondered what I sounded like to Kitty Perry’s owner. Was I no better than Kitty Perry’s owner? Is this spider my Kitty Perry? I hoped not because I actually didn’t mind Kitty Perry. She was quiet and here I was screaming like a lunatic, killing God’s creatures and talking to myself. And then its beady little head peeked out. Aha! Had it not, it might have lived, but I was offended by the furry affront.

This time I came down fast and hard on the tile floor and this time I did not miss! I tossed the swine of a spider into my toilet and sent him the best way I knew to El Segundo. “Ha!” I cackled. I washed my hands and walked into my living room. I stared at the meditation towel. Now, I couldn’t very well just sit down and meditate. After all, I had just killed and although I am a murder, I am certainly not a hypocrite. Instead of meditating, I said something in French to myself, which I did not understand and went out for a bloody steak.

-The Neapolitan Mastiff

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