Yet another fine cult tale, emailed to me from a fan. As they say on the magic box, names have been removed to protect the innocent....
Dear Mr Hurwitz,
I enjoyed your book The Program. Good job on nailing those culties
Here's a cute story.
In 1980, or somewhere around there, my sister's blissed out friend talked me into a ____ seminar. I was only 20 or so, and thought it pretty weird from the beginning; hundreds of people jammed into a hotel ballroom; loads of rules about going to the bathroom, too much intimacy with strangers. Still, I stuck it out pretty well until Sunday-- the graduation day. That morning, I'd felt a little sick and then during the training things became dire. I got up during some exercise, confronted the six foot ten inch guards at the door and told them I needed a break. They said no, that breaktime was coming up in forty-five minutes. So I told them if they didn't let me out, I was gonna puke on their shiny shoes.
They let me out.
And they had to keep letting me out about every forty minutes for the next few hours.
Finally the break came. And The Trainer, the big guy, brown-grey hair, ice blue eyes, threads of his slate grey suit creating what looked like the perfect human being. I was nervous as hell in his presence. He looked like a God or something-- his shit so together it was like some cosmic singularity. He took me outside and we sat by a planter of bouganvillas while told me I was disrupting the training and that the reason I was doing it was that I was avoiding something profound and traumatic. The implication was clear. I was way more fucked up than I could even imagine, and worse yet, if I didnt' stop, he was gonna throw me out. I leaned over and puked in the bouganvillas.
I didn't stop, but with the help of my sister and a paper bag, I was able to hide.
The next day, after it was over, I called in sick to work. Later that day my minder-- a handsome plucky blond guy with tragic eyes-- called, trying to get me to drop another six hundred bucks for the next level seminar. I had my checkbook in my hand, all ready to mail off my deposit, when I looked at the calendar. Goddamnit, how long HAD it been since I had a period? Holy Fudd. The puking... it was, it was... morning sickness. I was knocked up, not nuts.
I was in no position to have a kid, and didn't. But you know, all the hassle that ensued, the moral qualms, everything, it was all kind of a relief. It could be taken care of. What couldn't have been taken care of was the fact that a sharp suited trainer had just about convinced me that I was such a psychological wreck that if I didn't proceed with _____, there was now and never was gonna be any hope for me.
Life's funny, ain't it?
Again, thanks for a good read.