Peanut butter, or something so very much like it, burns the air. Not the people sitting across, not the clothes, not the carpet. It's the couch with the back facing the window that faces the dreary commuters every weekday. Plush leather and a sinking feeling is what it is.
Of course, this is a few years ago, enough for an even three, and the publicity officer for the Church of Scientology, Virginia Stewart is sitting with another woman, Vicki. Three on the couch to discuss the changes made to the organisation located on Castlereagh.
All because someone isn't dead.
After The Hubbard is Bare, an adventure in taking a personality test toward the hills of auditing, a simmer, a boil. Through magical winds and mysterious findings, an opportunity to show the ways they have paved. Strange and odd, the request from publicity for a sit down to explain the scene and operations between the then and the now.
From the first steps through the door, a cordial, relaxing pace to the atmosphere. After all, this is just a confab. No rush to sign up or walk over any other documents or details unless needed. And none was.
Overbearing zealots hell bent on drip-lining money from fresh converts to Scientology were reason behind the first visit. A chance to partake in a simple personality test turning into a harrowing experience. From assurances of Stewart, the type of clerk back in the day are either out or have been trained in the error of their ways.
Cool rest for the non-existent wallet.
From the philosophy of Scientology, a little on L. Ron Hubbard himself and Dianetics in general, two hours pass by rather quickly that it's enough for three. An open forum for any question proves the undoing. Having done little research beyond the personal experience, it's a floundering fight to keep up with supplying an interest.
No visit to a place of Scientology worship is complete without testing the grippage on the e-meter. A shiny silver box with two bars hooked up to a throbbing meter. Sweaty palms defeat its readings and the squeezing holds no favours. Questions come and the need to answer lies in the nature of the e-meter. Verbalising is out and the "mood" of it all stems from the interaction of an unseen being reacting to the poll. Memories and the subconscious control this experiment.
Conversation is an observation
Betrayal, it seems, is a split second twitch. In the muscles of the eye or the shafts holding on an eyelash, anything that might linger for a moment is a sign of a thought. Even if no thought exists, the insistence that there is rides the perception that beings of the older guard exist and do in fact control the current earth bound vessel. It's a fixed gaze that rights the situation and brings the focus back onto the topic at hand.
Unfortunately, with no set topic at hand outside the world of Scientology, it's a distracting notion in itself.
Doors are open on another visit to the complex on Castlereagh Street. The offer of walking out with a copy of Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard still on a standing offer. Tight and shrink wrapped like the power explosives are known to be. And how most books and guides stray so far from. One day perhaps.
Grey matter and nerves
Between the reception and the departure, time sitting and talking is enjoyable for the challenge in knowing. Far, far removed from the beat down of the young man years ago eager to dip his hands to grab a stash of cash. An enlightening meeting with no pressure at all. A different beast to the first encounter.
Who knows if that couch is still there. Not everything is as it is when you first remember it. Except for the smell of peanut butter. Or something so very much like it. Burning the air and leaving the hair in the nostrils to wonder and twitch.
Published on Monday, 5 June 2006
By Ethan Switch
Well doesn't that just look tasty.