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My Weird Scientology Date

Role playing is an effective method for bonding with girls. I like to role play with my dates, whether it’s preplanned or spontaneous. The act of assuming different personas and creating impromptu storylines seems to strike at a very primal core in women, making them giggle and light up with waves of pleasure. It’s like women crave this secret world you are inviting them into, a world of heightened sensation and exaggerated drama, as an antidote to their humdrum daily lives of pushing papers at work and emptying the litter box.

The better you are at improv, the wetter she will get. Docter/nurse, cop/speeder, teacher/disobedient student, pimp/hooker, CEO/secretary, irate manager/shoplifter… the pattern should be obvious.

On one date, I gave the girl a guided tour of an old (and very colorful) Russian Orthodox church, complete with ad libbed biographies of the various saints painted on the walls and ceilings. In my best wizened elder priest voice I pretended to welcome her into my confessional as she instantly caught on and slipped into the role of a naughty teenage girl who wished to confess her sin of indulging prurient thoughts of me. I called her “my child” a lot and she answered “yes, father” in lip-bitingly sweet girlish squeaks.

Another time, we went go-kart racing and play-acted a James Bond car chase scene through the narrow streets of Rome. She blew me a kiss as she sideswiped my go-kart into the rubber track wall. My British accent was horrible and her Italian accent left something to be desired, but it was the thought that counted.

But the best/worst role playing date I ever had was one that was more real than imaginary. As we were walking up the ave we stopped in front of the Church of Scientology building. Feeling mischievous and morbidly curious, I told my date we would be disillusioned D-list actors looking for enlightenment from alternative spiritual sources.

When we approached the door a bald, middle-aged man opened it a second before I was about to knock. He welcomed us in and as we stood in the foyer admiring the cartoonish portrait of L. Ron Hubbard hanging on the wall my date and I launched into our spiel about seeking spiritual fulfillment away from the “oppressive dogma of organized religion”. The guy’s face lit up like a home pregnancy test. He gave us the guided tour, enthusiastic but in a carefully measured speaking voice. Like a good salesman, he avoided scaring us off with the hard sell too early, instead asking us questions about ourselves and our search for meaning.

He asked if we had cameras (I lied) because apparently they have a no picture policy when people are present. We walked slowly around the main foyer peeking into each room while our guide spoke of the wonders of Dianetics (oddly, he never mentioned the E-meter which I wanted to try). The first room appeared to be an old study of thick, gnarled mahogany and floor-to-ceiling rows of bookshelves crammed with ancient tomes. There were a few library-style desks with reading lamps at which four men were seated, all of whom wearing green accountants’ eye visors and poring over books, brows furrowed in deep concentration. When we looked in, none of them glanced up from their books to acknowledge us.

At this point my date started to feel weirded out. Why? Because besides the green eyeshades, all those guys were dressed in the same clothes — white shirt, blue slacks, dark tie. And they seemed a little too engrossed in whatever they were reading.

The next room reminded me of that scene from A Clockwork Orange where they pry the guy’s eyes open with a metal contraption and force him to watch an endless montage of violent and pornographic video clips. It was a couple rows of neatly aligned empty chairs placed a few feet in front of a small movie screen. Nothing else, just that. If we were in any other residence, I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but the haunted vibe emanating from this mansion made me think of the worst scenarios. I tried to snap a picture of the room by cradling the camera in my palm and holding it tight by my hip, but our host wouldn’t stop looking directly at me.

While our scientologist friend blabbed, my date’s expression changed from giddiness to discomfort. She was no longer a D-list spiritually-deprived celebrity. She had had enough. The cultish vibes were beginning to accumulate. I cut him off and said we had to go, and he shoved some pamphlets in our hands. Stepping outside felt relieving.

The mood was ruined. I didn’t get a kiss from her at the end of the date. Scientology had cockblocked me.

I wonder if this is how normal people felt during the inception of the world’s major religions. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, egalitarianism… they all must have struck naturally skeptical people as cultish and absurd when they first began. Only when enough time has passed do religions acquire a veneer of respectability and deference. Enough time has not passed for Scientology to hide its cultish essence under somber rituals and literary texts.


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