Have you heard of Esalen?
Esalen is an institute founded in the late '60s, at the height of the Human Potential Movement, as a place for the brightest thinkers of the time to go work whilst surrounded by natural beauty. People like Aldous Huxley and the dude who invented Gestalt therapy. It's one of the only places like it to survive the subsequent shameful decades of humans so not giving a shit about their potential, and it remains an aesthetically designed, well-intentioned, workshop-packed, organic-foodie, vaguely hippie oasis that you too can visit should you desire to develop your Tai Chi or poetry or alternative self-healing vegetarian baking skills.
It is situated in the glowy clifftop seaside heart of paradise. The weather is in a perpetual state of balm, the air is sweet with the smell of pine, hawks swoop balletically overhead, and there are butterflies flitting all over the place. I shit you not. It's like Legend.
Did you ever see that movie? It takes place in an Enchanted Forest so amazingly special that both unicorns and Tom Cruise dwell therein.
In order to create the proper ambiance of Enchantedness, the Legend production designers opted to fill the air with something magic-y in each scene. The fantastical butterflies of Esalen are clearly retired extras from that movie. Ahhhh, how I loved that movie when I was but a wee lass, too innocent to fully grasp the implications of Tim Curry's girthy goat horns. I loved all the magic shit floating through the air. Tom and Mia Sara would be emoting through copious motes of dandelions, say, or — my personal fave — bubbles. Yes, bubbles, as though an angelic choir of small children armed with dripping soap wands was standing just out of frame, joyously blowing iridescent streams at the virile locks of tree-scaling Tom Cruise's hair.
God damn, that was some good hair.
It didn't make a proper reappearance until Mr. Cruise's best role ever, as Asshole Motivational Speaker With Gigantic Daddy Issues in Magnolia. Which I digress towards in order to aside the following: before his current incarnation, in which he is known almost exclusively for PDAing the living bajeebus out of Katie Holmes and proselytizing a religion explained in far more thorough and hilarious fashion than I am willing to attempt by the writers of South Park? Dude could act. When he set his mind to it, he had the special genius.
No joke. I'm not trying to trick you here, then slam you with a punchline. I thought he should have gotten the Oscar for Magnolia. I wish he'd make another movie like that. He is really awesome when he's playing the type of bad guy he never ever plays any more.
Tom Cruise's insistence on only making giant blockbusters and implying not very subtly that several members of my family are evil simply because they have dedicated their careers to working with people so acutely mentally ill that if they aren't medicated they'll kill themselves (or whoever the voices are telling them to kill)? It saddens me.
It saddens me, because I'm about the art. I really could give a fuck about people's personal lives. Sure, I emailed with my old boss about Tom and Katie every single day of their whirlwind Parisian courtship, I deconstructed that "it's a baby bump-- no, it's a basketball" photo, I had a dream in which I found myself wandering a Scientology compound that turned out to be their home, and was invited to a casual lunch with the couple, whereupon I discovered that they actually were into each other. Okay, yes, I recounted this dream to several people the next day. Hey, get this, I had a dream that Tom and Katie were like a real couple! They loved each other and they, like, had tons of sexy sex and stuff! What do you make of that? Do you think they could be a real couple? I'm starting to think, maybe they're a real couple and they're just terribly misunderstood by the tabloid media. I think maybe the media has been tricking us! Tom and Katie are the victims here! Seriously, I feel bad for them. Shut up, no, I do!
But I totally don't care about that stuff at all.
Right-o. So, good segue to tell you, Esalen is not as culty as you may imagine. Yes, there's a fire pit, and guitar, and people in tie-dye who play said guitar sittin' around said fire. There's a workshop designed for your particular flavor of group therapeutic interaction, or drum-banging, or — in my own case — ecstatic dancing. But just because I like to dance ecstatically doesn't mean I'm susceptible to weird influences.
My roommate — because you must have a roommate, my friend, there are no single rooms at Esalen, for Esalen is about community — was a rare gem of a woman, a New York shiksa goddess businesswoman with an enviably yogalicious body who somehow made me laugh every time she opened her mouth. I don't know why this was so. She swears she's not funny. She swears the people in her life never tell her she's amusing in the least. And yet, when she told me, "Mr. X in our dance group was delightful this morning, but I have to warn you, Mr. Y is sporting some serious B.O., so try not to land with your nose in his pit," I found myself crumpled on the floor, heaving with laughter. Maybe it's all in the execution. Maybe I laughed so hard to relieve the tension of being in a place where everyone is working on themselves on this deep psycho-spiritual level, and they're serious as a Mac Attack about it. Whatever, point is, she told me not to mention her in this blog by name so I won't, but I will say she's one funny-ass chickie poo. Let's call her "The Lady With The Hot-Ass Condo That Sera Gets To Stay At Next Time She Goes To New York, So There." Or, you know, "P" for short.
"P" was also my roommate last time I scrubbed up my chakras at Esalen. We were randomly assigned that time, but decided to return together. This strategy guaranteed for each of us a roommate who showered frequently and with vigor, as well as a pal with whom to compare notes on the subject of who on the premises is most fuckable. Five days at Esalen: a little over a grand. Having a friend who warns you that the hot guy you're about to saucily chat up bats for the other team: priceless.
"P", as you may have gathered by now, is not a Jew. In fact, one of her relatives boated on over to New England on the actual Mayflower. She is rocking some serious gentiletude.
"P" recently entered into a business relationship with an organization which counts several Jews among its highest-ups. She's working some big-time project, and she is suddenly swimming in Jew. She confided in me that it was kind of weird, being the only non-Chosen in the room at these meetings. Like all the Jews were speaking a subtly different language. She felt slightly at a disadvantage, and it bothered her because she wants to do the best job she can for the organization. (Which involves telling the Jews what to do — that's part of her job. This has proved challenging.) She told me she was stoked to read my blog, because she's gathering intel on our people. Trying to decode Jewishness so she can nail this project.
A few things came to mind when she told me this.
1. We totally rock. We meaning Jews, but more specifically the Jews who are very hot and who write this blog. It is rockin' to babble on about whatever's clever, and inadvertently help a chic businesslady do her Very Important New York Businesswoman Job That Beneficially Impacts The Jews.
2. There is much still to be done. "P" is not living under a rock. She lives in Bagelville, USA, for fuck's sake. And yet, she admits to finding our people mysterious and unknowable.
So: the Very Hot Jews would like to help our goyische readers to know our people just a little bit better. How? By answering your questions. We hereby invite you to send in your inquiries into Things Jewish, and we will answer them to the best of our ability. Actually, we'll answer them beyond the best of our ability, because if we don't know the answer we're going to make it up. Consider us a resource, a veritable font of useful yet potentially erroneous Jewish information. Have at us. Nu? Ask!
We'll be posting our answers to your questions on no particular schedule, when we feel like it. On the plus side, we're not that busy, at least while I'm on hiatus. On the minus side, we're fantastically unreliable.
Oh, and one more thing about "P". She asked me, delicately, if I "really drank that much." Apparently the blog paints me as something of a lush. This puzzled her, because the one time we had wine, I didn't even finish my glass. I may as well tell you what I told her — I don't drink half the shit I claim to on this blog. I'm not sure I've ever had a watermelon margarita. What I am sure of is that I do not want you, my dearest reader, to expect me to produce writing in a consistent or timely fashion. I have therefore created a "Blog Persona" who drinks like the fifth ho on Sex In The City.
Though, come to think of it, when I really do get down and dirty, and drink like three or four entire servings of an alcoholic beverage? It tends to be when hanging with Sime.
We really do bring out the best in each other.