Dr. Han led me into a small room. A white-coated scientist controlled two computers and four CCTV monitors, and looked through a large one-way mirror into an adjoining room. Dr. Han jabbed his finger at the other room. "We call this Restaurant Therapy. A lot of foreigners are deeply unsettled by their experiences in Taiwanese restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, and other places of relaxation. The simplest purchases can quickly degenerate into complicated, surreal, or even life-altering ordeals."
I turned to look at Subject B. His doctor offered him a choice of apples, red or green. Subject B nodded like a homeless woodpecker.
"Subject B's case was more complicated. He went to a local theme park on a hot day and was attracted to an ice-cream stall. The ice-cream came with real fruit toppings. It was possible to have two toppings for a small extra charge. He asked for a kiwi/strawberry mix and the staff of the ice-cream stall told him it wouldn't taste good. At first he was very polite and assured them that, strange as it seemed to them, he did indeed enjoy that mix of flavours. However, and this is I'm afraid somewhat typical, the workers insisted that kiwi and strawberry should not be mixed and absolutely refused to make it." Subject B stopped nodding. His eyes wandered vaguely around the room." So what happened to him? Why is he here?" I asked. "As I said, it's complicated. We think his brain went into some kind of meltdown. His psyche equates civilised life with boundless choice, almost complete freedom of movement and action. He thought Taiwan was a normal country, so his experience with the ice cream was dangerously unexpected. If he had been expecting something of the sort, things would have been better. Now, if you ask him a question he just nods his head. His therapy is currently ineffective."
We walked to the top floor. "I'm afraid you can't go inside any of the rooms, but you can take a quick look through the windows. Just don't make any grammar mistakes while you're up here." "What do you mean? This is the place we put our demented English teachers. We've got some very sorry cases here. Chaps whose students just never improve, guys who really want to do some good and are frustrated at every turn. Some people can't handle it. It affects men more than women, and Canadians more than other nationalities." I peeked inside one of the rooms. I saw something appalling. "Is he... is he Canadian?" I asked. "Yes, I'm afraid so." "What's he doing? He's flashbacking. In his head, he's teaching his advanced class. The one that made him freak out." I leaned in a little closer to the glass. His eyes were red and puffed; his tie had been tugged askew. He wagged his fingers at his imaginary students and, his body tense and hard, raised his shaking hands to his shaking head, and screamed, "The past tense of 'go' is 'went'! The past tense of 'go' is 'went'!" I gagged on some stomach acid that had risen into my mouth. "I'd like to go home now", I said.