Someone should tell the Mormons that they blew it. Sorry Mitt. If you’re ever gonna make up a new religion don’t pick Utah as your headquarters. Where would be better than Utah you ask? Good question. The answer is just about anywhere else, but preferably the beach. For followers of sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard that would be Clearwater Beach, Florida.
I know this because I recently spent a fortnight (assuming fortnight means 8 days) down at Clearwater. Sure, like any other religious seeker I dabbled in other areas like Tampa Bay and Ft. Myers, but those other spots lacked all I came to love about ClearH2O, endearing features like torrential rainfall, tornado warnings, shark attacks, haters of all things Pittsburgh and, most of all, Scientologists.
Quick editorial note: I don’t really believe Scientology should have a capital S, but let’s not take the chance since they could sick aliens on me to melt my brain and/or face.
Since you, like me, have probably never researched this unique organization, let’s take a closer look, and by closer look I mean ridicule and satirize without actually researching anything.
All I knew about Scientology heading into my vaca was that L. Ron Hubbard created the thing, Tom Cruise & John Travolta were big fans, and aliens were involved. That alone helped explain Cruise’s behavior on Oprah and Battlefield Earth. Also, they want to “clear the planet” of us 6 billion or so people in their way. Bet you didn’t know that little chestnut.
As I first took in the sights of Clearwater Beach, I began to learn more of these pleasure seekers. They’re not exactly catching rays at the surf, more like walking in circles around landside buildings. And they love Starbucks. Beware coffee drinkers, methinks there’s a powerful elixir in that steaming venti.
Key Centers Of Scientology. Notice Starbucks. I Have No Idea Why 311 Eldridge St. Is Marked.
One day I got stopped at a red light next to a parked van, the official ScientologyMobile. Graphics adorned the white box on wheels, messages explained that I was empty and miserable and urged me to buy L. Ron Hubbard’s book Dianetics so that I could attain peace and happiness. Inspired by the cult-mobile I yearned to know more. Well, that and it had rained for five straight days.
At first I tried to speak to some of the local faithful. Scientologists are easy to spot. Their dress code apparently came out of the employee handbook for Red Lobster servers. Perhaps sensing my outsiderness, they hoarded their Starbucks cups and sidestepped me as I approached. I tried signaling them ala Spock from Star Trek, but I never could do that stupid salute with two fingers pointing each way, so I inadvertently gave a bunch of Scientologists the finger. Trust me, not something you want to do on their home turf.
I looked to my family for help, but they had jumped in the rental van and drove away. Relentless as Rosie O’Donnell after porkchop sandwiches, I determined to infiltrate the Clearwater compound for answers. Continue Reading…