in a psychology class i took in high school, my teacher (who was also my basketball coach) called me out in the middle of class one day as the one least likely to join a cult. the cool kids in class, who each thought they would be named, were trying to figure out who i was. i was the board one in the back doodling. i was actually surprised too. i didn’t know coach thought of me in that way. we had our battles, especially when i wouldn’t play his bribing games to get us to do certain things, and in fact, with me they had the opposite effect. my least favorite thing in the world (probably) is to feel manipulated.
anyway, we had a couple of people from this odd little college come talk to our class about their background and beliefs. the school was mired with secrecy and myths. we were told it was a dangerous cult that posted guards to protect the snowmen in the winter. we were told it was some kind of strange religious cult. people had all kinds of ideas that guns and other odd objects were on their list of things all students had to get.
i often walked by this school for some reason. maybe going to and from my grandparents’ house? they had a pretty landscape with lots of trees and old buildings. i like walking across old campuses. the school had been a couple different colleges at different times. anyway, i never really believed the stories. mostly because i had actually talked to some of the students. at the least we smiled and waved to one another.
so anyway, after the two students left, some of the cool kids still wanted to laugh and make fun of them….they were always spoiled little assholes and probably still are. and that is when coach made the announcement. i don’t know why i remember it so strongly. i mean its been over 30 years, but it came rushing back to me a couple of days ago when i got ambushed by the scientology compound in L.A.
as i walk walking down the street to go to a bookstore i was told real life queer people go to, i noticed their giant building….i mean its huge and very blue! and i was like, right! hollywood and scientology. then i came to this intersection and a woman stopped me and said, hey want a free personality test. no, i like my personality just fine. and she pushed and said the magic words, aren’t you curious? well, yes, i am. so i went.
and she took me to that big blue building. it was sooo creepy. and everyone looked like they worked in a mid-nice hotel – black slacks, white shirts, black vest, and name tags.
she took me to this room where i met someone who told be there would be 3 tests (alarms went up), but i sat down to take the first test. i finished it quickly…by the way, standardized test where you only have 3 answers (yes, middle, no) is very manipulative. when i finished, the woman was right over with the next test before i could even stand up….more creepy. this one was going to be an i.q. test that was going to take 30 minutes. nonononono. i do not have the time for this. she said why not what do you have to do? i have to meet my friends. well when? what time? so i made some shit up.
then there was this, here hold these two silver things, and i got more nervous. a couple minutes later the original woman from the street corner came back to give me my results. naturally it showed that i am a mess. that i am depressed and unhappy and really fucked up, but scientology has all these classes that can help me find my purpose and direction. for every thing i said, she responded with i understand that, but….
finally, maybe 5 minutes of this, i had enough! i said i’m sorry, i’m not going to continue this line of questioning. i have to go now. she got defensive and asked what she said that upset me. i went into the failings of standardized tests and then just stopped. she didn’t care. she was trying to get me to stay, so i just stood up and walked out.
as i entered the lobby, without an escort, i saw all the eyes turn to me. this was the first time i kind of actually felt afraid on this trip. what if they locked the doors on me? what if they called security? what if i can’t get out?!
i didn’t stop until i was well down the street, and then i let myself get pissed! i was pissed off! first at myself for having wasted a half hour at this crack-pot place. then the longer i walked the anger turned to laughter. turns out the joke is on them.
as i reflected on what happened and why i answered the way i did and why they feel like my answers were causing me to have an unhappy life, i realized i am doing ok.
yes, i am having a mid-life/what the hell am i doing with my life crisis, but at least i am letting myself have it. in fact, i have given myself permission to go out into the world and figure it out. i don’t have to buy a fancy sports car. i don’t have to try to prove that i am still as young as i want the world to see me. i just want to find a way to live in this world with my values in tact and experience all the experiences that come my way.
so thanks scientology! thanks coach! thanks world of infinite possibilities!