The Bastard and the Scientologists
The T ride home tonight was a mess. The train was packed, there was no air conditioning, and the Talkie T computer screwed up and announced every stop as Wollaston. Sometimes Talkie would get the stop right -- "Next stop: Harvard Square" but then correct himself several seconds later. "Next stop: Wollaston." I can't remember the last time I was actually at the Wollaston stop, so I'm not sure exactly what's there that's so cool that Talkie wants to go there. Maybe he just liked saying Wollaston. I can't blame him, it's fun to say.
Wollaston Wollaston Wollaston.
Anyway. Now the word looks weird.
I departed, along with the rest of humanity, at the Porter Square station and started up the long escalator that leads from the Seventh Circle up to the First. I was already in a foul mood because of the packed, hot, muggy ride, where I mostly kept my eyes shut to forget that people's butts were hanging around in front of me. Once safe in the relatively fresher air, I noticed that all the escalators in the station were working -- and so The Snark came out to say hello. Everybody's got The Snark in their head. It's a little imp-like creature with a wicked wit and fond of scathing sarcasm. It likes to sit on your shoulder, metaphysically speaking, and chime in from time to time with appropriately pithy statements regarding your current situation. Sometimes you listen to The Snark, and dutifully repeat its words, and other times you ignore it, which only makes it angrier and wittier. I think if you let it go for long enough it actually turns into Dorothy Parker, and wouldn't you like her riding around on your shoulder.
This time around, as we rode up the escalator The Snark wasn't content to just make a remark, no, The Snark wanted a favor of me. The Snark wanted me to actually call the MBTA and file a report. The phone conversation, from my end, would have gone like this:
"Hello? Is this the MBTA Red Line division? Yeah, hi, this is about the Porter station, yeah, uh, I just wanted to say that all the escalators in the Porter station are working, the long ones as well as the little ones on the platform and lobby ... Yeah, that's right, they're all operating, all doing just fine, and people are riding them, and being very convenienced indeed ... Well, I thought you needed to know these things so, like, you could do something about it ... Of course this isn't a joke, this is very real, and-- hello? Hello?!"
Unfortunately my cellphone battery had drained itself while I was at work today (all that doing nothing really takes its toll on the ol' thing) so The Snark's request was denied. And I wasn't about to go talk to Mr. Surly Booth Employee because the phone was a much safer option: as of yet, nobody's invented a device that allows people to punch you in the face over the phone. So it goes.
Upon emerging from the bowels of the station and blinking at the daystar that's currently illuminating Porter Square, I noticed the newly-constructed plaza area was taken up by some tables and well-dressed people sitting down with the schlubs of humanity amid signs reading "STRESS TEST!" Piles of books were heaped on the tables as well, and upon closer inspection I realized the title was a nasty 9-letter word that one cannot utter without spitting on the ground immediately afterwards: Dianetics.
Scientologists! Shit! Scientologists! In Cambridge!
I stood by the station doors for a moment, paralyzed with fear and a growing hatred rising within me. These were the culties. These were the predators, preying on abused psyches and innocent people who are truly hurt and seeking help. Hell, these were the people who made Tom Cruise what he is toda-- oh, shit, here it comes, I've brought it upon myself:
WOOP WOOP OBLIGATORY AMERICA'S TALKING POINTS MOMENT!
TOM CRUISE! KATIE HOLMES! TOM CRUISE! KATIE HOLMES! KOM HRUISE! TATIE CROLMES! RUNAWAY BRIDE! RUNAWAY BRIDE! OPRAH DENIED A BIRKIN BAG!
(Phew! Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's continue.)
It was there, staring at the Scientologists duping all those poor, gullible fools, angry at their methods, jealous that I didn't think of a way to bilk these marks first, yes, it was there that The Bastard poked his head in my psyche and said "Sup, bitches."
The Bastard is a cruel fiend who normally lurks in the shadows somewhere behind the Id. He's slow to rouse but quick to act unless you are wise to him, and the real problem is that he looks just like you. Only smiling. And when he opens his fat yap, out comes the most horrible, tasteless, crude remarks that you can't believe just emanated from somewhere within your persona. And when he wants to play, brother, it's playtime.
"Oh, let me at 'em, let me at 'em!" The Bastard said to me, jumping up and down like a puppy. "PLEASE let one of them approach us! I know just what to say!"
"You do?" I asked.
"Hell yes, brother! One of those fucking clams comes up to us and asks 'How would you like to take a Free Stress Test', I'm gonna say 'How would you like to suck my balls?'"
"Oh no you don't," I said.
"Oh yes I will! Then they'll say 'Pardon me?' and I'll just smile and cheerfully respond 'It's been real hot all day, so you'll have to take extra special care with the sweaty underside.'"
"You'll say no such thing," I said. "We're walking across the street now."
"Aw, come ON!" The Bastard raged. "Look at them! They're the enemy!"
"They're real people, too."
"No, they're not! They're soulless brainwashed automatons! They exist solely to create new converts, bring new suckers in, and enslave as much of society as they can into their little bass-ackwards cult! They deserve to be crushed!"
"They deserve to be ignored," I said, trying to get my feet to move to the crosswalk.
"Oh, fuck that shit!" The Bastard snarled, just getting warmed up. "I want to abuse them! Come on, you won't let me abuse anything else, why can't I abuse the scum of the earth? Just a few? Pleeeease?! I want to hurt them! I want to make them cry! I want to make them feel terrible that they've chosen this awful way of life! I want to look one of 'em square in the eye and say 'Why am I being so abusive? Because you're all a bunch of cockgobblers, and my schlong needs servicing.'"
"You are a real class act, you know that? It's a wonder I keep you around. Do you really think hurling obscenity at them is going to get them to question their participation in this cult? Do you really think we'd be able to change anything?"
The Bastard thought this one over for a moment.
"Well," he finally said, "At least it's good for a laugh."
"No," I decided, "And that's that. Come on, we're getting out of here." Finally mustering up the will to move, I headed for the curb. One of the clams spotted the movement and turned towards me.
"Hello!" he said, big Stepford grin plastered over his Miscaviged face. "Would you like to participate in a free stress test today?" I stared briefly, stock-still in terror. Brain fought with brain. Bastard fought with Normal Guy. My eyes began to bug out as the greatest psyche battle I'd endured in a long time took place, and it ended only when I actually opened my mouth to speak.
"GHNIEEEAAAAAAAAARGH!!" I shrieked, sounding exactly like an angry eaglet denied his regurgitated dinner. Then I ran off across the street, arms flailing, like a mongoloid chasing a balloon. I didn't stop until I'd rounded the corner, safe in the shadow of the CVS.
"Oh, that was brilliant," The Bastard said, retreating back to the Id. "Real fucking smooth. You sure showed that clam what for."
"Suck my balls," I said.