Karen had been busy at her Hawaii convention and brought home information on condescension as well as on throat chakras and all other chakras in addition to picking up a few new ideas to boost sales of my tapes and books. Later it would be CDs and DVDs but those had not yet displaced tape and print. Thankfully I got out of the business before e-books became the rage as that was one new technology step I had no desire to master.
So what do I mean by saying my lovely tiger wife brought home information on condescension? There are varying definitions of the word but her focus was on condescension as an insulting way of talking to other people as if they were stupid or ignorant. One of the presenters at the seminar had underscored the power of condescension as a tool to manipulate people into buying them what you wanted to buy. “You like that cheap tinny car? Really? You prefer it to this slightly more expensive but infinitely more classy and desirable and well built and reliable model over here? What are you, a dumbass? No? All right! I was sure you weren’t! Here, let me get your signature right here….”
Of course not in those words as using that exact verbiage would be a good way to end up with a black eye and no sale at all. The trick as Karen explained it was to ever so subtly hint at the condescension with perhaps a thoughtful “Hmm…” or a briefly raised eyebrow directed at the potential buyer’s less costly preference. It would not work on everyone but if done correctly by the skilled sales tiger could close a higher end sale a surprising percentage of the time. I’d have been horrified and repulsed to hear of this from anybody else as I’d been the victim of just such a sales technique more than once and would no more go that route than a member of PETA would join the NRA, but sweet unassuming slick-as-black-ice Karen managed to make it sound almost inoffensive. She was a natural. She was so good at it that even knowing what she was up to was not enough for me to spot her in the act. Seminar back-of-the-room sales immediately shot up by twenty-three percent and kept on rising and that was enough to blind me to the fact that she was not only practicing the art of ultra-subtle condescension on our seminar attendees (note it’s now “our” attendees, not “my”) but she was also honing her skills on her trusting husband.
“You like that recliner for your den, honey? Okay-y-y….” And just like that she’d have me shutting down a bit more, settling for the burgundy leather beast she thought accented my ever so masculine personality (I hate leather furniture) without quite realizing I was deeply unhappy at giving up the blue fabric version I’d loved the moment I sat in it in the dealer’s showroom.
Of course there’s more. There was always more with her. Her life had revolved around manipulating men and she could no more stop the practice than stop breathing. Her next step was to help me help her study chakras starting with the root chakra which has to do with the sex force. Like I said, hello, manipulating men? More times and ways than I could count I was had in every sense of the word, a willing slave to this marvelous thing called the kundalini. The thing was, kicking this force loose in my aura really did make me seem more charismatic on stage and helped our bottom line that much more, so who was I to complain? I had the world by the tail! Said the goat-duck as it was being leisurely consumed by the tiger.
There was no YouTube back then as Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet, so I was not exposed to the supposedly chakra healing sounds that exist online today. (When I did stumble on those fairly recently and gave them a try, I couldn’t say they really did anything for me but then again I don’t think I was too out of balance or blocked at the time and probably didn’t need their help. Some people swear by them and some people swear at them. I just mention them here as a point of reference and move along.
Karen and I both believed we had it wired during this period of several highly profitable years for Malchek Motivation. There was never any indication then or later that either of us realized I was continuing to shut down, continuing to cramp the style of my throat chakra’s right side as I expressed myself less and less fully outside of the seminar setting. My health didn’t dramatically decline although I did pack on a few more pounds, giving my love handles another set of love handles of their own and necessitating slightly larger pants. Our bedroom chemistry remained far better than most or at least far better than most I’d heard about. We began working in several weeks of vacation time per year and spent most of that time together as we explored everything from Carlsbad Caverns to flea markets and remote mountain tops.
Until one day when we were in Aspen, Colorado, not skiing but people watching as other people skied, and I happened to overhear two men talking in the lounge where we were sipping drinks and taking our ease. Karen had slipped off to the ladies’ room and one of these guys had apparently recognized her from her earlier life in the underbelly of the beast. He remarked to his friend, “Looks like the old ‘ho still likes them ugly and dumb and rich as they come.”
Did he have any idea I could hear them? I didn’t think so but couldn’t be sure. If I let something like that slide and they knew I could hear, what sort of poor excuse for a man did that make me? On the other hand it wouldn’t be a wise move to march up there all lordly-like and huffing and puffing when either of these guys could likely take me apart without even trying. The one was tall and lean and mean, and he looked like the easy one.
When my wife got back from powdering her nose we got out of there. I told her about the tall jerk in the third booth along the wall. She just nodded and said, “Harvey Mercer. He’s a bad one.” She didn’t get upset or excited or anything and that was the first time I realized that despite both of us having had some tough times, she’d come from or at least through a world that was and would forever be totally alien to me.
I felt as lost as a lamb in a wilderness full of wolves but muttered lamely, “I should have said something to him.”
That’s when she looked at me with this little bit of raised eyebrow as if to say, Don’t be stupid. For the first time I felt her condescension aimed directly at my face and it did not feel good. There were so many things I wanted to add and quite a few I wanted to ask but there was this big lump in my throat that wouldn’t let anything pass either way, air in or words out. I thought I might pass out and nearly did, wavering noticeably enough for a moment that she put out a hand to steady me.
From that day until the divorce became final many years later I would never again be able to open up totally to my own wife.