Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Day I Almost Became a Scientologist

When I first arrived in California I thought this was a land of opportunity. Everyone was so peaceful and happy and beautiful, unlike New York.  I thought this was a place where tzuris did not exist.

Of course you can chalk it up to youthful naiveté.

That Eucalyptus-induced haze did not last long. One dead-end job led to another. I had less money for rent and food because I was spending more money on drugs and alcohol. My car broke down and I was forced to buy a used motorcycle. Did I mention this happened during the rainiest winter on record?

The Mamas and the Papas never sang about tooling down the 405 freeway on a 1969 CB 450 during a monsoon. That kind of misery almost had me on a plane back to the Big Apple.

The last straw came when I found out the girl/woman I was seeing, told me she was married.

This was not all the successful prosperous life I had been told I would be enjoying once I had a degree from prestigious Syracuse University in hand.

Then one day, just a cloudy day, I found myself on the eastern end of Sunset Blvd. A flashing marquis  caught my attention. I'd be lying if I could tell you what it said. But it was something to the effect of: Hey Siegel, your life sucks. Come in here and change it.

I parked the motorcycle and cautiously walked into the gold laced atrium/reception area. There, I was met by a clear skinned blond beauty, like the ones the promised by the Mamas and the Papas. She handed me a pamphlet and said the next orientation meeting would begin in 15 minutes.

In retrospect I can tell you that brochure was incredibly well written. It pushed all the right buttons. And rang all the right bells. There was nothing about Theta's or interplanetary travel or celebrity breakfasts, "Hey, Tom can you pass the hash browns?" They were too clever for that.

They knew, or seemed to know, all about my struggles, my personal demons, my god damned motorcycle that was missing a third gear. And they were going to personally guide me to a better path.

It all felt so right. But before they could hook me up to their patented Truthification Metric Activator, the ©TMA 9000, I got a call.

It was from my Gut.

In a distinctive NY accent, heard exclusively on Jerome Avenue between 170th street and Mt. Eden Ave. it screamed, "What the fuck are you doing here? We didn't lose 6 million Jews to the Nazis only to lose another one to a bunch of sprout-eating, alien-thumping, tooth-whitening, good-time Charlies. Get your sad sack life together and get the hell out of here."

I put the pamphlet down. Smiled at Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and walked out, vowing to quit smoking pot, begin exercising, and get myself on some kind of meaningful career path.

I kickstarted the motorcycle and headed west towards Santa Monica.

Then it started raining.

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