From firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris Lyman) Fri Apr 7 11:12:36 BST 1995 Back in 1977, I was just a poor college kid, working part-time at an ice cream parlor to pay the rent. It was at that shop that I met a special Somebody who could have been the love of my life. She was cute. Heck, she was beyond cute; she looked like Carly Simon. Not only that, she was a talented artist, bright, lively, a lot of fun. And sexy. (!) Yes folks, I was smitten. Chances are, I'd still be smitten, except for one thing: she was a recent convert to Scientology. Now back in the 70s, folks tended to be non-judgmental, and I was no exception. "Scientology, eh? Please tell me more." She would have loved to spill the beans, but she knew that the proper way to get me interested was to bring me to one of those introductory lectures and let the experts work me, er, explain it to me. I went, and at first, I wasn't too disappointed. The lecture was about the dynamics of interpersonal communication. It made sense, even though it used concepts and vocabulary I hadn't seen before. Then came the personality profile. This was a quiz to identify one's strengths and weaknesses. I obligingly filled out a form, which was then analyzed by a consultant. It turned out that I was "nervous", and if I didn't get some Scientology right away, I'd get worse. This consultant worked me pretty hard, continually pointing at spikes and valleys in my profile and asking for that $250 (I think; it was 19 years ago, remember) to enroll in the communications course. Finally it occurred to me that I'd seen these tactics before. A salesman for a health club had once used the same pitch to sell me a membership. That did it. I got up from the table saying that I was too tired to make such an important decision (which was the truth) and that I wanted to sleep on it. After one more iteration of peaks and valleys and a prediction that I would get worse, the consultant shook my hand and invited me to peruse the bookstore. "What the heck," I thought. As I wandered around, I eavesdropped on conversations that scientologists were having. I had never heard such a rapid-fire patter of acronyms and (to my ears) neologisms. It all seemed more and more unreal. What clinched it was, I bought a book, took it home and read it. Ostensibly, it was about dealing with emotional ups and downs. In reality, it was a shill for the all-important communications course. As I recall, the message was: "The world is full of suppressive people. Sign up for a communications course if you want to find out how to deal with these people." I knew right then that I would be wasting my time pursuing this dreck. The last days of my relationship with my otherwise delightful Carly Simon look-alike were not happy ones. She went on and on, saying things like "We're gonna clear this planet" and "L. Ron can walk on water" to my increasing distress. The straw that broke the camel's back was her saying "I can't do my art until I've had more auditing." I reminded her of all the great art that had been created by unhappy people: Van Gogh, Beethoven, etc. She would have none of it. She wanted to be "clear" before starting another project. So... we went our separate ways. I hope she doesn't think of me as an SP, and that whatever she's doing, she's found meaning and fulfillment. And I hope to God that the Co$ hasn't tarnished her bright spirit.
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