ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Less than five miles from the Pentagon, the owners of the Bikram Arlington yoga studio thought they had come up with a clever way to run a promotion in conjunction with the Sept. 11 attacks.
It backfired. Badly.
The owners faced a wave of criticism for insensitivity after using Twitter to promote a sale, writing "9 + 11 = 20% OFF! PATRIOT DAY SALE."
Frank Machnick, the co-owner who wrote the tweet, pulled it down later in the day and apologized. Ultimately, he blamed "yoga brain."
In an interview, Machnick acknowledged the tweet was a mistake, but said he does not see it as substantially different from various sales that companies, including his, run during Memorial Day or other holidays.
His wife and co-owner, Zahra Vaezi, agreed.
"We do Valentine's Day promotions. And Valentine's Day, if you think about it, is connected to a massacre," Vaezi, said, referring to the 1929 gangland shooting in Chicago that left eight mobsters dead.
Asked if perhaps the wording of his tweet contributed to the angry response by playing on the numbers to calculate a 20 percent sale, Machnick acknowledged that might be the case. "People don't like numerology," he said.
Before removing the post, Machnick initially defended it on Twitter, in part by making an oblique reference to a Sept. 11 conspiracy theory.
Asked about his views on Sept. 11 in the interview, Machnick said, "Does anybody really know the whole story? No."
Machnick also wrote a tweet saying he suffered from "yoga brain" when sent the original tweet. In the interview, Machnick described yoga brain as a phenomenon when "someone just had a yoga class and isn't thinking too clearly," especially after a hot yoga session where the temperature may exceed 100 degrees.
Vaezi said people were being "ridiculously mean" in their online responses to the couple, wishing them to go out of business or worse.
They both acknowledged that they didn't really consider the fact their proximity to the Pentagon might have contributed to people's reaction to the tweet.
"Whenever I think of Sept. 11, I think of New York," Machnick said.
The studio sits just a few miles from the Pentagon, where 184 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ultimately, the two said they are resigned to the fact that they will continue to face online vitriol until the story subsides.
"Sorry you guys didn't like our sale. Don't buy," Machnick said. "But don't flame us. Geez."