Posted by: Abe's Blog | July 25, 2010

Mister Feng Shui

Martin held open the door for me and gestured towards the interior of the cafe. “Welcome,” said he, “mi casa su casa.” I tried to hold back a snicker but a little bit of it came out with a poofing sound. “Excuse me?” He asked, his eyebrows raised in an exquisite ‘V’.

“Oh, nothing,” I said, stepping past him, my boots clumping on the polished hardwood, “I’m just not used to hearing all that fancy talk.”

Martin smoothed his pencil mustache and gestured towards a corner table by the window. “Have a seat. Would you like something to drink?” He turned and snapped his finger at the young woman behind the counter. She moved efficiently to our table and peered at us over her black-framed glasses. “Emily, I will have a Chai soy latte, and…Frank?” He looked at me.

“I’ll have a coffee.”

Emily stared at me. “Coffee? You want room for cream?”

“No. Black.” As Emily turned away, I added, “Shaken. Not stirred.” I picked up a napkin and turned towards the window to hide another chuckle. Martin peered at me.

He looked uncomfortable, his small nose twitching and his eyes flitting from my face to the window and back again. “So…ah…you come highly recommended, Frank. I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind me calling you ‘Frank’. Is that alright? Or would you prefer, Mr. Hackenbargh?”

I laughed out loud, “Mr. Hackenbargh? What do you think? Nah, call me ‘Frank’…better yet, call me ‘Mr. Frank’.”

Martin looked at me, trying to determine if I was serious. I stared back at him, my smile gone. “Mr. Frank. Alright.” I strained to keep a straight face. Emily brought us our drinks and set them in on the table.  “Alright,” he said again, “let’s talk about why you are here.” I leaned back in my chair and waited for him to continue. “As you know, I have just recently opened this cafe.”

“You move here from out of town?” I asked him, slurping at my coffee. Some of the hot drink spilled on my shirt sleeve and I spit on it to keep it from staining. Martin stared at the spot.

“Well yes actually, I just moved here,” he said.

“Let me guess…from L.A.?”

“Yes, actually.”

“Figures. Go on.”

“What? Okay. Well, as you probably know, this building used to be a auto parts store. It still…feels like a parts store. In fact, sometimes people come in here looking for parts. They don’t seem to realize it’s a coffee shop now. I need this place to feel like a coffee shop. I want people to feel relaxed and refreshed when they walk in the door. I tried moving things around and painting different colors but I just can’t get it and…”

I held up my hand and Martin stopped talking. “Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water,” I said.

Martin stared at me, “Huh?”

“That’s from the Zangshu, the Book of Burial. It is the essence of Feng Shui. You got any water in here?”

“Well, there’s a faucet in the sink and a toilet in the back,” Martin looked confused.

“Nah,” I swallowed the remaining drops of coffee and put a toothpick in my mouth. “That ain’t gonna do it. See, this building’s got the wrong orientation.” I pulled a sharp metal object from my coat pocket and put it on the table.

“What’s that,” Martin asked.

“It’s a gnomon, man.” Martin looked stumped. “It’s the shadow-makin’ part of a sun dial. You do know what a sun dial is, right?”

Martin looked peeved, but said nothing. I studied the shadow made by the sun slanting through the windows. Then I stood up and walked to the far side of the dining room, and pulled a nail on a string from my pants pocket. I swung the nail in circles, then let it hang like a pendulum from the string. “Okay, see here Martin? You got your Yin and Yang’s all screwy in here. See the Yin and the Yang, they gotta balance out or they won’t cancel each other out. I think what’s going on here is your Yang is too strong.”

“My Yang?” Martin looked quizzical.

“Yeah,” I stared at him, “your Yang.”

Emily made a sound at the counter. Martin glanced at her, then back to me. “So…what do I do?”

“Well…I believe what you need here to fix your Yang,” I tried hard not to snicker again, nearly losing control of my bowels, “is some good ol’ fashioned Xuan Kong Flying Star feng shui technique. It’s gonna be tricky and I’m gonna need to get my Flying Star chart out of my other truck.”

Martin looked at the floor, then back to me. “Mr. Frank, how much is this going to cost me.”

“Not much,” I said. I kicked the floor, “I’m gonna need my tractor and back-hoe here, too.”

“Why do you need those?” Martin asked.

“We’re gonna need to dig a water-way right through here. Won’t work without it.” I walked out into the sunshine, climbed into my Chevy and turned over the motor, then waved at Martin as I drove out of town.

Mr. Feng Shui



  1. Snicker, snicker!

    Better take it easy on L.A.!

    We better find out what part of L.A. that Carmencita loves so much. 8)

    • It’s okay. We’re all from somewhere else here–mostly LA 🙂

    • Well, that’s not indicative of LA. It’s indicative of a snooty idiot that you can find anywhere…. I love California because — well, it’s a whole lot of things. But mostly because there is everything here: hiking, kayaking, trails, sun, people of all types, city, farms, snow… but like everywhere else, there are also idiots. Fortunately, I don’t embrace those folks in my life no matter where I am so it’s all good.

      I surmize that most of what is known about Los Angeles or California comes from Television & stereotypes but not from personal experience. Come visit sometime and I’ll show you “the other side”, the “real side” of LA… yeah, I’m a bit touchy about my town. But who would I be if I didn’t defend my latte-loving-silicon-implanted-fake-cheezy-feng-shui-hollywood-types along with all the other real good hard working folk? Gotta embrace them all. Plus, the way I look at it, it’s what makes Los Angeles so brilliant. But I am one positive, half glass full kinda chic anyways. . .

      Yeah, don’t mess with Boston either..


      • Ah, Carmen. As I said, the funny thing is, most of us in Southern Oregon are from…wait or it…Southern California! Around here, after you live here for a year or so, you earn the right to start making fun of Californians 🙂

        The real bad guy in this story is Frank Hackenbargh (who is not me). I pictured him as kind of the “IT Nerd” of Feng Shui. I also learned from writing this that Feng Shui is a whole lot more complicated than I thought and was actually used in a totally different way then what it is often used for now.

        So I’m not knocking your town, Carmen 🙂 I love LA.

        This song was actually inspired by a Gnarls Barkley song.

        • Hmmmm… nope, you still don’t get a pass (Ha!).

          I think Feng Shui is phooey! Yeah, I know — I can hear all the hoopla right now about it being an ancient, historical, Asian — blah, blah, blah. I don’t believe in it — though, I do believe there is someting to AURA feeling right in a room. But whether that has more to do with the individuals in the room versess how the furniture sits is where I have issues…

          I don’t know if I think Frank comes across as the bad guy. Though, I do believe he lost an easy opportunity to make a buck. Although, it seems that his idea or judgement of others based on stereotypes seemed to matter more.

          It’s an interesting piece to say the least. Maybe the real bad guy here is Roger.. you know, for egging me on..

          And I’m the idiot for taking the bait (hahahahahahahaha!).

          Okay, you can make fun of Californians… especially if you’re from here. It’s all good.


          • Yep! Roger is to blame. And yes, as I am native born Californian (does Thousand Oaks count) and my family still lives down in the sunshine, I’ll keep poking fun 🙂

            • Yeah, yeah…blame Roger!

              Makes me want to write a post about Californians. 8)

  2. LOL!

    Damn it – now I know…

    I need my ‘yang’ adjusted is all.


    P.S. Awesome eyes you have (just sayin’)


    • Thanks. I hope your yang feels better soon 🙂

  3. Well, that was interesting…

    • Thanks, Mike. I think I should clarify that the character Frank Hackenbargh is not me. I don’t know anything about Feng Shui…

  4. I don’t know anything about Feng Shui, either, so you could have fooled me. Did you read up on it before writing? What’s the song that inspired it?

    • Wikipedia open while blogging 🙂

      The song is by Gnarls Barkley, and I believe it is called “Feng Shui”.

  5. Hmm. Interesting reading, and at first I thought you were about to launch into a detective scene, with Frank being the frost-bitten seen-it-all guy.

    I’m not a believer in Feng Shui…much. That is, I won’t re-arrange my furniture to suit someone’s sense of spiritual placement.

    That said, I know there are times when you walk into a room and you either feel (unaccountably) right at home, or you feel…off. Something’s wrong but you can’t place your finger on it. I don’t believe in the spirituality of a place, per se, but in the affects of a person’s presence which shows up in a place. Maybe it’s that you need to move some people *out* of the room in order to fix the room’s “yang”. 🙂

    There’s all kinds of weird and unseen things that affect our lives. Sometimes, the moment you try and put a label on it, it floats away, never to be seen again. Some things defy definition I think.

    • Thanks, Wolf. I was looking at Feng Shui stuff on the web as I wrote this and it was actually kind of interesting. I think the origins of Feng Shui were for determing proper burial placements.

      I’ve been in many rooms/situations as you describe where “something is wrong”–call it an aura, a bad spirit, or the Heebee Jeebees. I happen to believe it has a spiritual content, though not necessarily of the Feng Shui type.

      I think you’re right–these things often defy definition.

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