April 13, 2012
ALL HAIL THE
Cults seem to have a bad reputation with most people thinking of the Manson Family, Jim Jones' Klan, the Branch Davidians, or those silly freaks who cut off their nuts and drank poison while waiting for the Haley Bopp comet to bring them back to their home planet. I tend to think this a rather unfair perception and that your average friendly neighborhood cult is probably just a gathering of harmless goofballs with a few kooky beliefs and a passion for summertime barbecues and barn dances (where the punch is generally non-toxic). Often I've entertained the thought of joining one myself, thinking it might be great fun. At one point I was actually presented with the opportunity but, for better or worse, I let fear get the best of me.
It was a few years back and I was living in a different part of the country. Through a mutual acquaintance I became friendly with a cute young recovering crackhead named Reignah who kept inviting me to her “church”. By “church” she was not referring to your typical congregation that meets in a chapel every Sunday morning for services. Rather, it was fellowship of former ruffians who overcame drug addiction through a cooler, hipper version of Jesus. Unlike the very square Jesus of my childhood, their Jesus seemed to really like tattoos and motorcycles and, although I had no photographic evidence to prove it, I imagine he wore a leather jacket and liked his women in tube tops. Collectively known as “The Ark”, this rag tag ensemble of former junkies met each weekend at an abandoned elementary school in a very bad part of town, actually sleeping there Saturday night. Curious though I was, I could not build-up the nerve to accept Reignah’s invitation. Though I was bound to leave with a boatload of entertaining stories, I was pretty sure I would be forced to engage in a number of creepy and potentially homoerotic rituals. Maybe I'm way off base here but when I think of spiritual bonding exercises I get concerned that at some point I'll have to be nude in the woods with other men, at least one of whom strums an acoustic guitar and sings a song about friendship while everyone gets all touchy-feely. I just wasn't ready for that shit. Nor was I way particularly comfortable with the way the Ark's officials would assign new members a fiancée and force them to spend the first half of every Saturday in a Christian marriage class. Reignah already had her man assigned. I may have been a bit more open to accepting her invite if there was any chance they would have paired us. As I said, she was cute and she seemed like she would have been a fun lab partner when we got to that lesson on consummation.
Sadly, Reignah ended-up going back to crack and disappeared one day. Her fiancée, a dimwitted (and possibly retarded) boy named James, was subsequently reassigned to her roommate Patty who lost her own fiancée to a relapse. She, incidentally, ended up leaving the cult and moving to the coast after getting impregnated by an outsider who was subsequently shot to death while attempting to rob a gas station (there's no hope in dope kids). I'm not sure whether Patty left voluntarily or was excommunicated but I hear she is currently living with her schizophrenic mom who cares for her fetal alcohol syndrome afflicted child while she goes out on the town to recapture her wasted youth and find a new Mr. Right. Hopefully the next one will have a longer life expectancy than twenty-two.
I hope Reignah eventually got her shit together. She was really nice girl and I sometimes wonder where she is now and what she's doing. I kind of regret not going to The Ark with her when I had the chance as it surely would have been an experience to remember. Admittedly though, I’m not the best at concealing how I really feel and I fear the Ark-ians, sensing I was less than serious, may have ended-up cooking me into the main dish at their annual Feast of St. John the Baptist Chili Buffet. In the end that would have been a shitty way to go out. Literally.