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Biff America: Getting to the point

Jeffrey Bergeron
Biff America

Had the day been one minute shorter, my butt might not now look like the back of a speckled trout. But being that it was the summer solstice, the year’s longest day, Ffej had an extra 60 seconds to convince me that sitting on a bed of nails would be good for me.

As often is the tradition on the summer solstice, my mate organizes a group of miscreants to ski at sunset. We generally get as high as possible (in elevation), park our vehicles then hike to an agreed upon snowfield. From there we boot pack to the top of the snow, wait until the sun is about to set and ski down.

On this particular solstice ski, we were joined by a mixed bag of nuts: male, female, older (that would be me) and younger (everyone else). One of the attendees was pregnant, and one was a doctor whose skills we hoped would not be needed, especially for the mother to be.



We all were expected to bring a snack to share at the summit as everyone waited for the sun to set and for me to catch up. Included on the menu was sushi from Steve and Laura, quiche made by my mate, and roasted edamame and sautéed chiles with a marmalade dipping sauce prepared by Scott, who carried his backpacking stove. Hoping to save weight, I carried up a flask of bourbon and a Hershey bar (“from each according to their abilities”).

While we were awaiting the longest day to end and enjoying our feast, Ffej began extolling the benefits of his new spiked Shakti mat, which he lies on shirtless to increase his energy level and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.



I had no idea what parasympathetic meant, but an increased energy level appealed to me; Ffej had passed me climbing, as if I was a glacier, while he carried a leg of lamb compared to my candy bar.

According to Ffej, the practice originated in India or Indiana and is enjoyed by Hindus or Hoosiers. My guess was the former as I could not envision Mike Pence shirtless.

When I inquired further, I learned that a Shakti mat was a pad with hundreds of little, sharp spikes that you lie or sit on that supposedly help the body release endorphins, which, according to Ffej, are the body’s very own happiness drug that provide a sense of joy, energy and pain relief (not unlike bourbon and a candy bar with less calories). When I asked if it was painful, Ffej asked to be handed the plate of sushi.

I have to say I was intrigued, though I was not sure what my parasympathetic nervous system was, I thought it might be a good buzz to have it activated. But, ever the skeptic, I needed a second opinion. I asked the doctor with us if he thought lying or sitting on spikes had any health benefits. He said, “I don’t know.” That was good enough for me. When we got home that night, I ordered one.

Since then I’ve been lying and sitting on a mat of spikes daily. And I am happy to report that my doctor was correct. I will say that though it is painful at first, the pain seems to lessen after you get off, leaving behind hundreds of indentations causing your skin to look like the back of a warthog.

You might ask if I have noticed any health improvements. To quote that famous line in the movie Anchor Man, when touting the aphrodisiac properties of Sex Panther cologne, “60% of the time, it works every time.”

I use that quote loosely as there are no romance benefits of lying on spikes; quite the contrary, as the points leave indentations in my skin that make my back and bottom look like a cheese grater, which my mate seems to be able to resist.

Getting back to the summer solstice ski, the sun was near setting, the sky was blood red and we all knew that the days going forward would shorten. We packed up our snacks and prepared for the ski down. The skiing was marginal, the sky was amazing and the company was outstanding.

It was well after dark when we returned home. I emptied my pack to find that my flask and candy bar were untouched. I went online to research the cost of a bed of nails and found them surprisingly affordable. Being that I seem to make better choices on sugar than whiskey, I should have eaten the candy bar and left the flask unopened before I pressed “make purchase.“


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