I have a friend —
What? Yes, I’m antisocial to a fault, but there are an intrepid few who won’t take “No, we’re not friends” for an answer and so I allow them a temporary parking pass in designated areas within the friend zone. Now, may I continue with my post, please? Thank you.
Anyhoo, I have a friend — quiet, you! — who’s in a cult. She doesn’t see it as a cult, doesn’t acknowledge it as a cult, and hates when I bring the group’s cultish ways to her attention.
She was recruited into it by a coworker via a book club. While I’m deeply concerned for her, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to help. Any concerns I express about the club and her involvement with it are dismissed as naïve and misinformed, and are taken as evidence of my pessimistic outlook on life, which is a flaw my friend thinks her cult can help me fix.
Nothing I say will change her mind. She has been properly programmed to resist and/or deflect any criticism of the book cabal. Her conversation has become unbearable, as most of what she now speaks about centers around how brilliant and compassionate the book group and the coworker who runs it are, and how much I could benefit from joining.
What follows is my first conversation with Linda after she joined the not-a-cult-book-club. These aren’t actual spoken words, mind, but the words behind the words. Or at least my interpretation of them, bearing in mind that I’m pretty much shit at deciphering subtext.
You should further note that the interaction may be laced with doses of sarcasm not present in the original conversation. I am forever the unreliable narrator.
Me: Hey, Lin.
Linda: Hi, Rhy. You know what? You’re amazing.
Me: Okay, that’s a bit random but I have to admit I felt validated when you called me amazing.
Linda: I feel your validation and I’m warmed in the soothing heat of your positive karma.
Me: Uh, karmic warmth makes me feel a little uneasy.
Linda: I feel your apprehension and I’m suddenly angry.
Me: Your anger is just a reaction towards my judgmental standpoint on your new age mumbo-jumbo.
Linda: Congratulations, now I’m angrier by your ignorant labeling of my new doctrine and guiding philosophy. I bought a cool new prism for only $150 because it blinds the souls of unbelievers so that they will walk into doors and we can laugh at their misfortune. We, my group that I refuse to acknowledge as a cult and I, believe the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time…
Me: Curious about this cult. Is it exclusionary? If so, do I fit into the negative stereotyping of the masses or would I be permitted to join such a worthy cause for a small fee to the great one?
Linda: Your first-born. And, I almost forgot, they’re entitled to 51% of your soul. It’s a pretty good deal when they throw in the Apple shares as well.
Me: Hmm… sounds good enough. But I still have a nagging question. Will joining this cult fill me with a false sense of superiority to the non-believers or will I be conditioned to happily go about my business which will soon become proselytizing to others?
Linda: Look. Stop with the questions, just go and kill your family. It’s for the best, okay?
Me: Unanswered questions and hostile commands to boot! Wow, you guys really are legit. Alright, before I sign up, let’s say I slaughtered my family, whose only crime was being related to a man with a lunatic for a friend, what then? How do I advance to the next level of cultiness?
Linda: Give us your first born, and tattoo your whole body. And if you do a good job on the family killing front, my superiors would be impressed. They like feeble-minded allegiance to any pretension of authority.
Me: Tattoo? Tattoo? Hold on a second. No one ever said anything about tattoos. That’s it, I want out. I’ve had enough of your “tattoo your body to show your inferiority to the high sacred master overlord” gobbledygook.
Linda: That’s it. You’re cut. No everlasting peace and tranquility and blissful happiness, bounding through the fields of heaven. You can just sit outside St. Peters gates forever, disbeliever.
Me: Cool beans. I’m done with your pseudo-utopic hallucinogenic-induced dream. I don’t need your deranged, fragmented view of paradise. I have television to fill that gaping whole in my immortal soul. Just wait until I blog about this on the Huffington Post!
Linda: Huff Post? What an excellently composed news authority. It’s insight and credibility never fail to expand my perspective on the intricate workings of our world. Truly a fine journalistic institution. My mind just turns to a viscous jelly-like substance when I look at their headlines and a conspicuous pool of frothy drool begins to accumulate at the sides of my mouth when I have the long-anticipated opportunity to peruse their pages.
Me: Sweet mother of all that is sacred! What have they done to you? Can’t you see that the cult has been warping your mind to the point where you’d be happy endorsing nearly anything? Well, with the exception of Francois Hollande.
Linda: Francois Hollande, don’t get me started. A fine politician. A beacon of our times. Socialism is what we need. We need strong leadership, for a strong future. Damned immigrants. We need a common sense revolution, oh wait… Silvio Berlusconi, don’t get me started. A fine politician, a beacon our times…
Me: Oh no! they’ve taken you. You’re too far gone. Just know as I grab this pillow and press it firmly against the sleeping face of our friendship that this is for the best.
Linda: Don’t forget to break out of the institution by throwing large objects into steel re-enforced windows. It will make the dramatic effect of your selfless act even more poignant and meaningful.
Me: Damn. I forgot to stare longingly at the flock of birds earlier on. I hope that this will still be considered effective cinematography since there’s been no foreshadowing.
Linda: Milos Forman would not be impressed by your lack of effective symbolic imagery.
Me: Ah-hah! So that’s who’s behind this cult. I knew you’d slip up sooner or later.
Linda: He’s not alone. You have no idea how far it goes. You’re trifling with powers that you can’t possibly comprehend.
Me: Not Paula and Carole!
Linda: They’re minor pawns. Their Magic Garden sinister talents are well applied to young children, teaching them to be inherently distrustful of hand puppets who live in trees, as well as chortling flower beds in general. They were more of a test project, a prototype, a foreshadowing of things to come. much like the Terminator who came back in T2 but as a good Terminator—well, sort of at least—you know what, screw Paula and Carole, they’ll just get evil and kill us all.
Me: How could they? They were trusted by all, loved by many, stalked by a few. How can I go on with my life now that I know The Story Box was a sham? I even sent money to PBS, for goodness sake.
Linda: Public Broadcasting, don’t get me started. Fine family viewing. We’ll return to our program, but first, why not give? Become a monthly donor. For your contribution you’ll receive a worthless gift and the illusion of supporting the arts and educational programming. It’s all informative, no commercials to warp your mind…
Me: Damn cult. Glad I never joined in the first place.
Linda: Or, so you think. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.
Me: I never signed a contract or made a blood transaction of any sort.
Linda: You’re not supposed to remember.
Me: Ugh, this is tiresome. I’m going to bed.
Linda: Goodnight. Don’t forget: the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time…
Me: Amazing. my ass.
I take that back. I think I nailed the underlying meaning of that conversation.
Sally forth and be patiently-awaiting-a-signal-that-the-brainwashing-is-starting-to-wear-offingly writeful.
©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys
PS. Don’t join cults. You’re intelligent, I realize this, but consider it a PSA in case you happen to stumble upon this post on a low-gamma day when the world has seemingly left you no other options than to sign up with a small group that has religious veneration and devotion regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. Unless, of course, you wish to join The Everlasting Dream Church of Rhyan, for my words are magical and my genius must be preserved! Besides, I’m sick of eating ramen and chili, so step into the warmth of my positive karma and PayPal-tithe me a dollar towards some healthier eating.
*Cue Sarah McLachlan song*
Remember, the Rhyan you save may be your own.