Jul/Aug 2015 Humor/Satire

Side Effects (A Haibun)

by Terry Ofner

I didn't even really believe in meditation. I just took my girlfriend's advice and tried it. Okay, she wasn't... isn't... my girlfriend. She's the girl at Starbucks who sometimes makes... made... my coffee. I was sitting at a table and she noticed how I was shaking my legs like I do when I get nervous. She said that I should take up yoga or meditation. The way she said it. Real nice like.

Well, no way was I going to do yoga, so I tried this mantra I found on the Internet. I got comfortable on the couch where I watch TV and started in following the instructions—you have to breathe just so and empty your mind. The emptying the mind was easy for me. And the breathing seemed to come second nature. All was going great. I was more relaxed than I had ever been before. Then I felt a bump on the top of my head, as if someone had placed a book on it. I thought nothing of it. I kept my eyes closed and waited for it—the book or whatever it was—to go away. It didn't. I decided to take a peek.

Holy—! I had floated up to the ceiling and was bobbing up there like a Bobby balloon. That's my name, Bobby. It took me 45 minutes to get down. I got myself over to the window and shimmied down the curtain pull. Well, the shaking was gone, but now I had a different problem. I decided to text Renee (that's the girl's name). She got me into this mess. I was sure she could help me.

Floating around my room because of you.
Will you help me come down?
BTW: shaking is gone.

You may ask how I had Renee's phone number. I do have friends, you know. And in this case, friends "in high places." Well, I waited. A day went by. Another day. I was getting desperate. The side effects of the "meditation" appeared to lessen slightly. Even so, I felt like an astronaut on the moon. One time I got up too fast from the couch (where I sleep as well as watch TV). Take my advice. Don't do that. There is a head-shaped dent in the drywall behind the TV. I decided to try her again. Maybe the first text got lost.

Meditation makes me float.
Hit wall yesterday.
Can wait one more day.
Then not sure what I'll do.

That did the trick. When my phone buzzed a little later, I just about—no, I did—I flipped off the stool where I was perched trying to eat a bowl of cereal.

Listen Buddy.
I don't know who you are.
You better stop bothering me.
I will have your phone tracked down.

My reply:

Bobby. I'm Bobby.
Your 10:15 am decaf latte w/ chocolate soy.
I did the meditation like you said.
It makes me float.

She came back with,

Okay. "Bobby."
Why don't you just "float" down here
for your 10:15 am decaf latte choc soy?

I said,

I'll try!

I managed it on a heavy old-style bicycle I borrowed from one of the ladies in my building. It had baskets on the back and one of those bells you ring with your thumb. I texted Renee one-handed from one of the tables out front as I held onto the heavy chair.

Bobby here.
Out front at table.

I saw her see me. She ducked back into the employee section. A minute later she came out with a big guy who stood nearby. "You! she lit in, "why are you texting me? How did you get my number?"

I didn't answer. I just let go of the chair. She saw me float off the chair about a foot.

"Shit!" She said it like she saw this sort of thing all the time. She waved Bruno off and said, "I know what you need. Here take my hand."

Not in a million years would I have ever thought she would say that to me. I gave her my hand.

"No funny business," she said, and she walked me back behind the Starbucks and behind the furniture store where there was a patch of grey-green grass that sloped down toward a bunch of sad-looking grey-green trees. "Here's the thing," she said. "There's only one way to cure this."

"How?" I asked.

"You need to jump as high as you can. Get a running start and jump. Try to jump over those trees."

"I'll do it," I said, "if you let me kiss you."

"On the cheek," she said, as if she expected some bargaining.

I kissed her on the cheek. Then she kissed me—on the lips! I swear. That was it. For her, I ran. I jumped as hard and as high as I could. I floated.

When I looked back, I saw her give a small wave and turn back to the Starbucks. I floated over the trees, over the highway, up and over the shining city in the sun. I texted her before I floated out of range:

Thank you. The view, the city!

She replied,

I know.


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