The Man Who Came to Dinner

Everyone has a deep dark secret. Don't they? Something they wish they could talk about but just can't.

For me, well ... it's back hair.
I know, I know: Some women like it.
Right, and some women like bald heads, big stomachs, and small penises.
Anyway it's my deep dark secret, and I'm taking it to the grave.

My hosts for this week's "Man Who Came to" dinner have a little secret of their own. And I'm about to bust it wide open in the sacred name of fluff journalism.

Are you ready?
That's right, they sell magnets. But it's a secret.

See they can't tell you why they sell magnets, or what the magnets do, or even the name of their magnet company. Hell, they can't tell you their very own names. So I'll just call them Lady X and Lady Y.

No, that's too confusing. Let's call them Queen Christina and Ms. Wizard.
Dinner was at Christina's house, a charming little one-bedroom in the heart of Bernal Heights. Once Ms. Wizard arrived, Christina informed me that the evening would include a full demonstration of their secret magnets, culminating in a magnetic massage and a nap. "But," said Christina, "we should probably get on with the food part of it sooner. You don't want to get rolled out on a full stomach."

I had no idea what "rolled out" meant, but dinner, a massage, and a nap sounded awfully ... familiar.

And I was getting paid for this.
In the kitchen, Christina announced that she hadn't had time to cook. "I almost cooked," she said. "Then I was like, 'I'm not sleeping with either of these people. I'm not even thinking about sleeping with either of these people. Why would I cook?' "

"Because it's going in the paper," I suggested. "Including that line you just said."

"But also," Christina admitted, "I was a little scared that it might not turn out very well. Then everybody would know that I can't cook and then ..."

"... then you might never sleep with anyone again," finished Ms. Wizard.
So, in lieu of risking public humiliation and eternal celibacy, Christina had hoofed it down the hill to Zante Pizza and Indian Cuisine.

"Cool!" I exclaimed. "Did you get the Crazy Indian Pizza?"
"I got the Crazy Indian Pizza," confirmed Christina.
I've long known that, nan for nan, Zante offers the best prices in Indian delivery. But I'd never had the opportunity to try the restaurant's city-famous Crazy Indian Pizza: Is it Indian food, or is it pizza?

Opening the standard pizza delivery box I discovered a traditional-looking pizza crust covered in a wide array of nontraditional toppings. There was lots of chopped spinach, eggplant, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, and green onion, plus big chunks of tandoori lamb and chicken tikka masala. The only thing we couldn't seem to locate was the advertised prawns. But I bet they were on there someplace.

Christina had also ordered some basic dishes from Zante's menu. After loading up our plates, we moved back into the tiny living room, hit the floor, and chowed down. The pizza was interesting. All the ingredients and spices blended, creating a sort of Indian buffet in a convenient Americanized serving. The traditional dishes -- vegetable pakora, sag paneer, and daal makhni over saffron rice -- all pleased our tongues and warmed our bellies.

Chewing on a piece of onion kulcha, I daydreamed of my impending massage, when suddenly it hit me:

Massage = no shirt = hello, back hair.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not sporting the full-on "beach sweater." More like a starter garden, at worst. Still, it's not something I particularly enjoy sharing with new friends.

Oblivious to my anxiety, Christina and Ms. Wizard began the participatory part of the evening. The idea seems to be that having magnets in the vicinity of your body may have some effect on you -- possibly positive -- but they weren't saying for sure.

"I liken it," said Ms. Wizard, "to acupuncture or acupressure: They assist the movement of energy, or chi, in your body. If things are stagnant, your body doesn't function as well. So I can't say that the magnets make your body function well. But I can say that they provide a good environment for your body to function well in."

I could see that.
"Part of the reason why we might even need to introduce magnets into our environment right now," she added, "is because of the environment we've created. You know, we don't live on open fields without wires or concrete. The artificial urban and suburban environments we've created basically block us from the Earth's magnetism.

"The concept behind our products is to introduce a really low level of magnet that replicates the Earth's magnetism as closely as possible so that you can be in the environment of magnetism all the time."

To demonstrate the unofficial potential of their wares, the magnetic duo offered to conduct a couple of tests on me. Christina produced their first product, a pair of thin metal insoles meant to be inserted into your shoes. They didn't look quite as comfortable as my old Dr. Scholl's, but they were magnetized.

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