All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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Memory is an interesting phenomenon. Interesting because it remains so fluid. The vaguer details are so easily forgotten or undergo constant mutation or distortion. Yet certain concrete elements intervene to provide a reliable enough anchor to allow locus and structure for narrative certainty.
Such pertains to the following anecdote. In this case, the anchor is provided by a midget. Not a metaphorical midget, but a literal one. And not merely a very short person such as Mickey Rooney or David Miscavige, but the sort of tragically stunted individual one encounters at a circus or carnival sideshow, such as Tattoo, Ricardo Montalbon's sidekick on "Fantasy Island."
One wintry morning in 1971, I took a needed break from whatever I was doing at the old Boston ORG located on Beacon Street to attend to personal business in the men's room. Once inside, I locked the door to the lone stall and sat alone in the semi-darkness. Then, a moment later, unexpectedly of course, the men's room door brusquely swung open and someone proceeded to the urinal to relieve himself. Soon enough, the door opened a second time, and another person availed himself of the facilities.
An odd conversation began. I remained as quiet as possible to maintain my own fragile privacy while eavesdropping. Transfixed, I recognized the two voices almost immediately. One belonged to a particularly glib and obnoxious staffer; the other voice was that of the aforementioned midget. I remember not the initiating or exact words constituting the exchange, but its gist remains indelibly inscribed. The midget had been a frequent visitor to the ORG for several weeks.
Somehow the staffer (even with his fly down) contrived this strange situation into an opportune and upbeat moment for heaping praises upon the efficacy of "Ron's" "tech." They clearly were unaware of being "audited" by a silent interloper lurking in the shadows of the solitary stall. The midget, infused perhaps with the staffer's enthusiasm, asked in halting fashion if this meant that Scientology might enable him to have the body of his own choice over the course of his next lifetime. "Of course," emphasized the staffer, who then explained at length (this was becoming increasingly bizarre from my vantage) that Scientology was all about being "at cause" over one's material circumstances. However, he then qualified such assurances with an even more grandiose one: that the need for choosing one's body would be unnecessary because the real miracle of Scientology consisted of its capacity to elevate *anyone* (yes, back then there were fewer "ifs" "ands" or "buts" in the cult's litany of hollow promises; if anything, Scientology has become more cautious) onto a plane of existence such that a MEST body became superfluous.
At this point (more or less), the staffer and his diminutive captive audience of one exited the small men's room, leaving me undetected in the stall, alone with my thoughts. I never saw the midget again, and within three weeks or so I had myself departed Scientology.
This episode represented for me but one straw in a succession that eventually broke the horse's back. I distinctly recall that it suggested the extent to which Scientology was prepared to tell anybody anything in order to extract whatever it was that Scientology wanted to extract from any particular someone for whatever reason. Scientology had gone on the record as assuring this unfortunate individual that in the next lifetime he could "live in a body of his own choosing." Such transparencies had nothing to do with the entire doctrinal motif of reincarnation with which I had earlier become acquainted while casually encountering it in Eastern philosophy. Scientology cynically twisted a venerable tradition into a manipulative ploy.
The poignancy of the midget, a perennial outsider relegated to the most outré margins of a social and cultural life that most of us take reasonably for granted, is instructive. It once again illustrates in concrete fashion the predatory depths of depravity to which Scientology routinely indulges.
I cannot help but to imagine from time to time of what became of the midget in the bathroom.