It all started innocently enough.
On the occasion of his 59th birthday my good friend David Schoffman received a gift certificate for four deep tissue geriatric massages from this Thai place around the corner from his studio.
He was never really into massages before - the thought of being kneaded like a baguette never particularly appealed to him - but Thai massage is somewhat different and by the second session he was prepared to revise his biased predisposition.
By the third he was in love.
By the fourth he was consumed.
There's a cruel, unconscious aspect to the creative enterprise. Artists in their hubris believe that all is allowed and that which is forbidden is ultimately forgiven.
While this may arguably be the case with geniuses like Picasso in the case of Schoffman the needle quivers a wee bit closer to the red zone of the verboten.
And yet there he was in hot pursuit, obsessed with a masseuse named Chuasiri. In the beginning it seemed more or less within the bounds of the barely permissible but fairly quickly it entered the uncomfortable realm of the downright weird.
Decorous to a fault, David is often described as the perfect gentleman but Chuasiri was an idolatress and among the pagans gentlemen are of little use.
She insisted that my poor friend David treat her like a golden calf and she continually seduced him with the irresistibly agile magic of her distal phalanges . She led him like a dog on a leash and soon the once willful painter became as pliant as a spaniel on a platter.
Though not nearly as edible.
He showered her with gifts and lavished her with attention. He would watch her sleep and meditate to the mantra of her saffroned exhalations. He would study her body as if it were a map and he committed to his faulty memory every follicle and mole.
He became an authority. It was as if he were an expert arboriculturist and Chuasiri was some rare and beautiful variety of shrub.
She demanded his full attention and he gave himself willingly, unquestioningly and with a slavish obsequiousness that was barely recognizable.
It got to the point where he literally couldn't take his eyes off of her and he eventually met with an "exit counselor," a therapist specializing in deprogramming people who have lost their identities to sects and cults. He slowly learned that there were others equally adept in tenderizing his rhomboids and oiling his obliques. He soon saw that Chausiri didn't hold the exclusive secret to corpuscular soothing and there were others out there who could slacken his lats and palliate his pecs.
He still goes to the beach and studies women in tiny bikinis but in Southern California that's fairly de rigueur. He has his obsessions pretty much under control and has learned to put to good use his newfound powers of prolonged concentration.