I love how-to books. There’s something about the promise of learning a new skill, no matter how arcane, useless or difficult, that draws me in.

I was drawn in last weekend at the library by a book called “Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits” by Eiko. On the front cover was a slightly smiling woman whose legs were splayed out like the two halves of a gutted fish. To make this scene even more terrifying and mentally disturbing, the woman’s upper torso was lying flat on the floor in front of her apparently rubber pelvis.

I thought this looked fun so I grabbed the book and checked it out along with a couple books of poetry and one on particle physics.

It took me a day or two to finally get around to reading the book. I was avoiding it out of fear I would actually try it. But, as I began to read through it I started thinking maybe I could actually do these creepy and painful looking splits.

There’s probably a reason all of the example models in the book are short, old Japanese women. I figured 41 year old white males who have never been particularly limber aren’t supposed to do the splits. But after only about 30 pages of stretching instructions, the book takes an odd turn and for the next hundred pages or so we’re told a moral splits story that involves two men and a woman.

It’s somewhat difficult to describe the story. One of the men teaches the other man and the woman how to do the splits after they accidentaly interupt him doing the deed in his office. He also teaches them why learning the splits will make them better at their jobs (they work in a trading company) and at life in general. Notable quotes include “Well, you’ve caught me in a compromising position, haven’t you?” and “…you probably ought to slip off your pumps, first”.

I was especially moved by the chapter titled “Light the Fire of the Splits in Your Heart”. I don’t know if it was more painful to get through the book’s stretches or the story.

I’m not totally inexperienced with the splits. I’ve split the seat of my pants a couple of times; I’ve been told “let’s split!” by people cooler than me and I’ve eaten a banana split. But I don’t think any of those life experiences are going to help me rip my groin in half.

A Painful Beginning

And this lady isn’t expecting just the splits. No, she wants me to rest my head on the floor in front of me too. This is like a masochist book or something. But I’m going to give it the old college try.

The book is touted as a four week stretching plan to achieve amazing health. Whatever, I just want to creep people out. I’ll keep you posted for the next four weeks as to my progress.

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