Thursday, November 19, 2009

She Was a Fast Machine

The Audit - Harper Simon (mp3)
Fill My Little World - The Feeling (mp3)

I was a senior in high school in 1990 and visiting a friend at Boston College. We were headed to Boston Garden for a Celtics game in one of Larry Bird's last years in the league and his dramatic return after being injured the previous year. On the way, at an intersection, we found ourselves staring at this stunning woman in her late 20s. She looked like a supermodel shoved into a hot business executive's outfit. (Or, at least, that's how she looked to an 18-year-old from an all-boys' high school.)

When we crossed the street towards her, she called out to us. What she said hardly mattered. Would we like to take a survey or something like that. We both agreed we'd do pretty much anything this woman asked short of streaking the parquet floor of The Garden, and we had a couple of hours to kill before the game, so we dumbly and droolingly nodded. When she said "Follow me," we had no problem obliging. We remained two paces behind her, looking at each other and communicating solely with gestures and eyebrows, each of us fantasizing about what possible wild sexual adventures could await us whenever we arrived wherever she was taking us.

We must've walked two miles. We walked long enough that we had begun to shed the sexual fantasies and wonder if she was going to leave our naked bodies in bathtubs packed with ice with notes about how our livers had been removed. Little did I realize how close those fears were to what would happen.

She leads us up the stairs of this gorgeous brick building with wizard-esque pointy tops, and she smiles and holds her binder close to her eye-magnetizing chest, and she asks us to take a seat at one of two long tables on a side of the room. We would never see this woman again.

A professor-looking dude walks over to us a few minutes later with these questionnaires. They're personality tests. Long, long personality tests.

Maybe it's because we were sheep. Maybe it's because I'd been groomed to take tests my entire schooling life, and this one was kinda easy and meaningless. Maybe it's because we thought completing these tests would result in the woman coming back. Maybe even without clothes. Who knows why exactly, but we took them.

Some 30-40 minutes later we turned them in and were asked to wait while they were graded. I'm sure I sat there secretly wondering if I'd done better on my test than my friend Andy.

Why did we sit there? Why did we wait for 10... 20... 30 minutes?

Finally, a guy comes out and calls out my name. He asks me to follow him. I am led into a darkly-lit office that looks like some rich guy's small reading room, with a couple of table lamps providing the only light. Another guy is there. These two gentlemen commence explaining to me just how fucked up I am. Apparently, my personality test revealed a human being in tremendous crisis. They explained all of my problems -- it felt like it took a long time, but that's because I was getting scared and my Spider-Sense was tingling that these dudes were shysters -- and then they explained how I could better myself and emerge from the tarpit of my misery.

It involved a machine that would measure my midi-chloreans or whatever they were calling it. The machine would determine whether my spirit or my chi or some such was in a good place. Kind of like a high-priced mood ring. At this point, they actually used the words "L. Ron Hubbard" and "Scientology" for the first time. Sometimes having icky and uncomfortable feelings is what helped humanity survive and advance for thousands of years. Our instincts are pretty amazing most of the time, so it's a shame we didn't heed ours at any point in our journey into L.Ron Hell.

If it takes someone two hours of your time before they reveal their motives to you... if they have to lure you in with women in sexy miniskirts and words like "survey"... if they isolate you and outnumber you with two of their own...  these are the signs of very gifted and organized salespeople, and what they're selling is snake oil.

No, they didn't steal our livers or kidneys, but they aimed to pray on vulnerable and naive high school kids, and they used every sneaky and dirty trick in the book to do it.

I might have my own internal struggles with Christianity, but the churches I love don't fool anybody, and what they're selling is plastered all over the place. Crosses and commandments and pictures of Jesus. Churches rarely sneak up on anyone because the better ones keep few secrets and use none of these fucked up tactics. There are no rogue or renegade Scientology churches because they are kept under the very disciplined and controlling thumb of their chain of command. In fact, the reason Germany is so off-the-wall berzerk in their intense opposition to Scientology is because it probably looks a terrible lot like Nazism to them.

Fortunately, Tom Cruise is only one person. Sure, he's a very, very, very wealthy one person, as are numerous others involved in this crap. But estimates of US membership in this "religion" vary between 3.5 million (from Them) and 55,000 (from normal people). Worldwide they claim 8 million, so it's probably more like 1-2 million.

Whatever the number, it's too many. Know how I know? I asked my Magic 8 Ball.

Harper Simon's song is from his debut album, and if you like this song, I kind of think you'll enjoy most of the other songs on that album. The Feeling's album Twelve Stops and Home is a fun and cheesy little Supertramp wannabe creation that makes for some fun moments.


Daisy said...

I know this isn't really your point, but allow me this digression. People have been talking a lot lately in my neighborhood about "stranger danger' and there's been lots of discussion about shady looking mem lurking in beat up cars. No one talks much about the dangers of hot chicks in mini skirts. Note to self bad guys don't always look like bad guys.

jed said...

"sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace" - Bob Dylan

Goofytakemyhand said...

Had that Dylan song/album blasting on my car radio yesterday.