I thought about porcupine sex the other day, while lying on my back under a heat lamp with a dozen or so acupuncture quills poking out of my arm. Afraid to move for fear of fucking up my Qi – which is Chinese for energy flow and pronounced chee as in Cheesies – I was enthralled by the weirdness of it all, and the poster of the naked man covered with the TripTik of meridians and points.
During my initial consolation with Vivien Yuan, I asked if acupuncture was like Santa Claus, in that you have to believe to receive, and perhaps it works better when you're not dealing with a cynical old bitch such as myself. Vivien said reassuringly, that acupuncture treats the whole person – which was Chinese for, "you crazy".
Escorted into a warm, hospital-clean room, I volunteered to remove my shirt, but not before warning her about my really ugly sports bra that I've been meaning to toss out for ages. I went on to say I was wearing new Hello Kitty! underpants, which is a Japanese character, but likely manufactured in Korea by her 5-year-old relatives. I just threw that out there to make conversation because petite, quiet, smart people make me nervous as hell.
Vivien, whose real name I had discovered was Wei, asked if needles bothered me, and I told her I had a ten pound baby with an enormous head, so she could likely shove a shrimp fork up my ass and I wouldn't flinch, so no, I'm good with needles. Actually, Wei, it's long black hairs in the bathtub that bother me, so just stay out of my bathroom and we'll be fine.
Acupuncture was recommended to me by my physiotherapist after diagnosing lateral epicondylitis – which sounds way cooler than tennis elbow. Truth is, I likely developed lateral epicondylitis from pounding on this cookie crumb-filled keyboard, self-gratification, or hoisting a bucket-size wine glass steadily for 30 years – but let's blame my manly forehand.
I knew exactly where to go for acupuncture because the little bastard and I have been marveling at their sign for years. I STOP PAIN Acupuncture and Chinese Herb Centre. Bloody brilliant marketing I say – if only all businesses were so forthright. Imagine signs like: I SUE YOUR ASS or I MAKE POOR PEOPLE FAT. The list is endless.
I STOP PAIN is operated by Registered Acupuncturists, Tom Tian and Vivien (Wei) Yuan. The couple arrived from China via a saturated acupuncture market in Vancouver. Havenot, it seems, is just beginning to reach out to the 8000-year-old healing philosophy – but what do you expect from a place that still has door-to-door milk delivery.
Acupuncture is proven effective for treating headaches, gas, hip pain, bed wetting, PMS, skin problems, sinus problems and a host of other ailments, hangups, addictions and diseases. I'm up for anything that doesn't involve a prescription pad, stirrups, or a 45-minute wait in a room littered with decade-old magazines, seniors taking their last breath, and children with undiagnosed ADHD.
My treatment took an hour, and at times, caused pain – contrary to the sign. All I know is I left I STOP PAIN feeling more relaxed than I'd been in 8000 years. Maybe my cheesies were aligning, or maybe it was just nice to step out of my dreary comfort zone and be stroked by a total stranger. If Vivien gave pedicures my visit would have had a really happy ending.
The male porcupine has a ribbed penis which almost makes up for his pre-coital golden shower. As for the female, when you're a loveless, reclusive creature prone to shooting off harmful barbs as a defense mechanism, you take what you get.
I STOP PAIN is located at the corner of Young Ave and Robie Street. Their website won't win any design awards, but it's very informative. www.istoppain.ca. For an appointment call: 444.3111.