White Crane Kung-Fu Studio, Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, 1974: In my Kung-Fu phase, I was crazy about everything Chinese … except the interior decorating. I know that may sound just too, too gay, but aside from mysteriously grand Chinese interiors in old movies, have you ever been in a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t garish as hell?
I’ve come to learn that it’s because Red is Lucky, and no sensible Chinese person on the planet wants to be unlucky. Of course, when you think about it, that makes perfect sense. I wouldn’t either.
Back to the Kung-Fu and acupuncture. This is a story about needles and eyeballs, but it turns out OK. Just warning you …
Being temporarily Chinese myself, I ate Chinese food, learned to use chopsticks, went to the fighting movies every weekend — A tip: the movies made by Mr. Run Run Shaw are better than movies made by his brother Run Me Shaw — and of course I joined a Kung-Fu studio, where we wore the most uncomfortable shoes ever invented.
We learned weird movements named after the White Crane, and there were huge bags hanging from the ceiling, and they were filled with rocks. One bag was little, bitty gravel. Another bag was marble-sized stones. And the third filled with great whumping big rocks.
It was kind of like the three kinds of porridge in the Three Bears house, except that none of the bags was just right. The idea was that you would hit these bags with your hands.
I did it once.
But getting back to the acupuncture … The deal is that, because my Kung-Fu master was also a master acupuncturist, I had acupuncture a couple of times. And then one time he wanted to send a needle to hit a point behind my eyeball.
This was to cure me of wearing glasses.
With some misgivings, I said OK. (The needles are very fine; I figured I couldn’t bleed to death through a hole that small.)
So he sent this long and thin needle twirling into the skin, and beyond, and further and further, and …
As it turned out, I got a real good discount on my seeing-eye dog, and we’ve been very happy ever-
Just kidding. It worked fine; I didn’t go blind, and in fact I could see without my glasses for the rest of the day. Go figure.
However, I’m a big chicken. I didn’t want to do it again.
Glasses seemed safer.
Now, I’m not so sure.
But that’s life in the kung-fu movie, right? You pays your money, and you takes your chances.