Never Die

The Weekly's incomplete guide to an almost eternal life

But the shaman's visit made Fretty turn his vision inward to look for his soul instead of his eyesight. Recently, Fretty has been delving into hypnotherapy with Susan Han, a certified hypnotherapist. I've watched as she puts him in a massage chair, reclines it, and covers him up to the chin in a pink blanket. As he goes under, the massage chair works its magic with a rolling motion up and down his spine while Han whispers to him, making him more and more relaxed . . . too relaxed. For at this point, amid perfect silence, there comes a short burst of flatulence from Fretty, who seems oblivious to the wind beneath his pink blanket.

"He is extremely relaxed now," Han says, unperturbed.

After several hypno sessions, medication, counseling and a long journey from hell, Fretty has begun to accept himself. He doesn't talk much about it, but he has lost 30 pounds, walks regularly, and seems a bit giddy. To address his sleep apnea, Fretty had a mouthpiece made with a hole in the front so he can breathe through his mouth during slumber. Otherwise, he can only sleep in 15-minute bouts before his respiration stops and he sputter-snorts back to life. The mouthpiece seems to help. "I don't need to nap near as much," he said, though he still nods off at stoplights if there's a lull in conversation. He has also started walking a little: at first, it was to pick up a pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs at the store, which he would soften in the microwave and devour in one sitting. But the hypnotherapy has helped him kick chocolate for now, and he's been walking for its own sake. I took him hiking once, but he ended up ass-over-noggin down a mucked hill, injuring his wrist.

He told me once that if he ever lost the use of his hands, he wouldn't hesitate to off himself because Fretty has one saving grace on Hell Island: music. During all the time he was restricted to his bedroom as a youth, he learned to play the guitar, and it became his solace against the moment-to-moment chore of living. He is what musicians call an "ear player," not being able to sight-read. Like Hendrix, Fretty actually sleeps with his guitar so that he can have music for breakfast and as a lullaby. Also like Hendrix, he plays brilliantly, and all that fire and heartache in his gut bucket comes out tour de force. That's how Fretty stays alive.

He's in love, too; he met the girl of his dreams via the Internet. But maybe its all tied together . . . self-esteem, self-acceptance, drugs, hypnosis, the shaman and the Internet. And, perhaps, not being afraid to ask for help, he met a woman-via the Internet-who worships his every flaw. Trouble is she lives in the Midwest; but trouble is an occasion of growth, and Fretty, who had never left California, jets out to be with her whenever he has the cash. To curb the long-distance blues, he chats with his cyberlove on the Internet between 4 and 6 hours per day. He wants to retire from his business in the next year and make a living playing music. That's what his soul has been telling him all along. He just never listened before. Now he listens. And he hears. He goes after well-being. And it's not just a matter of health; Fretty chases the will to live.

-By CJ Bahnsen

Rejuvenate Yourself

My experience with the Rejuvenate diet proved again the venerable adage: you don't ever really buy potassium bisque; you just rent it. Four days into the holistic deep-cleansing program that Rejuvenate author Helene Silver describes as "a 21-day natural detox plan for optimal health," I was, you might say, returning to sender.

So closely had I studied the Rejuvenate text, so meticulously had I followed its recipes for food and drink and lotion, so faithfully had I entrusted myself to its every direction for eating, breathing, bathing, sleeping, exercising and meditating, that I was regurgitating all I had learned.

Are you getting the point here? I was puking! I was hurling, barfing, ralphing, spewing, blowing chow, calling for Earl. I was playing the whale, showing 'em what I was made of, giving as good as I got. Do I make myself clear? Well, after throwing up long enough, the answer is: yes, I do.

This was not the reaction I was expecting from Rejuvenate's 318-page regimen of potassium-rich, blender-mushed, vegetable-based entrées, complemented by ionic cocktails, inner-beauty teas, hot lemon flushes, vigorous loofa scrubs, cucumber facials, yogurt masks, oatmeal-and-egg-white packs-all of it played out against the ever-lingering prospect of a self-administered enema. Looking back on this list, I don't know what else I could have expected; it reads like the training manual for driving the porcelain bus.

Perhaps I was oblivious to the inevitability of a raunch launch because I hoped this detoxification process held profound benefit for someone like me, who has lived so long by the not-necessarily wholesome trinity of USDA choice, FDA approved and KFC extra-crispy. Compare that flimsy dietary framework with Silver's introduction to the Rejuvenateprogram, which promises that it "fine-tunes all the systems of elimination, or 'body filters'-your skin, your lungs, your lymphatic system, your liver and kidneys, and your colon."

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