Monday, August 11, 2008

How Hoop Almost Got Us Brainwashed

Saturday was Hoop's 31st birfday. To celebrate, I rented a hotel room in Tampa. Or, as Hoop calls it, "Florida's armpit". So why did we choose to vacation there? Because this hotel just so happened to be having a comic book and toy convention on Sunday. Am I not the coolest fiance ever? When we arrived at the hotel Saturday evening, we immediately asked the guy behind the counter how to get to Ybor City. The clerk made a face and then reluctantly showed us a map. "What's wrong with Ybor?" Hoop asked.

The clerk, a young black guy, explained that Ybor City wasn't safe anymore. "...Not unless you're in a gang." Then he flashed us some signs I'm pretty sure he learned off a CBS special. "You know, it's gone hip hop." Hoop stared at him for a second to see if he was joking. He wasn't. "Oh. Oh-kay." Hoop replied. "But I guess it could be cool if you're a biker or into that alternative lifestyle," the clerk continued. "You guys would probably have more fun at Channelside." We got directions and then headed out.

"I don't believe him," Hoop said when we got in the car. "Ybor used to be a really cool place to party." "How long ago was that?" I asked. "Nine years ago." "Exactly." We drove to Channelside first. "Are you kidding me?" I laughed when we got there. "Why did he think we would like this?" The place was painfully yuppie. "To Ybor!" Hoop replied triumphantly. This time I didn't argue. I was a little nervous when we got to 7th Avenue, but my fears were quickly squashed. There were families walking around, families with little kids.

I don't want you to think that Ybor is Disneyland though. The city IS pretty dirty. The surrounding neighborhoods are project-style apartments and old rundown houses reinforced with metal bars and cages. You wouldn't want to go past the strip, night OR day. But if you stick to the shops and bars you'll have a good time. They have a
Coyote Ugly Saloon there and the original Columbia Restaurant. In short, it looks like a really fun place to party. I just wouldn't want to live there.

Shortly after we arrived, Hoop and I came across a building with a banner draped across the side. "Life Improvement Center. Free Stress Test!" There were two young people sitting outside. They looked normal enough. Maybe the boy was a little too thin. He instantly jumped into his sales pitch. "Would you like a free stress test, sir?" Hoop, who was feeling pretty adventurous, said yes. Meanwhile, I was being distracted by the young girl, who was commenting on my shirt. So it didn't hit me where we were right away.

My first thought was, "Why are there racks of books everywhere? Is this a bookstore?" Then I saw the words on the wall. SCIENTOLOGY CENTER. "Oh shit." I stopped walking. My palms broke out in a sweat. I immediately tried to figure out how to run away. There was a girl standing behind me, blocking the door. Hoop was already in the room, too far away to grab. "How did this happen?!" My brain shouted. "I don't know!" I shouted back. I walked toward Hoop, trying to signal to him with my eyes. "Have a seat," the guy replied.

Hoop and I both sat down, unsure of how to get out without making a scene. I looked around quickly. There were about ten people in the building. They were all watching us without trying to be obvious. "Hold on to these," the guy was saying. He handed Hoop what looked like two metal cans. They were attached to a meter. My brain felt like it was fluttering around in my head, trapped. "They're auditing him!" It yelled. I'd studied up on all this crap about eight months ago out of curiosity. I never imagined I would actually USE the information though.

"Think about something that has been causing you stress," the guy said smoothly. I held my breath. "My brother died two weeks ago," Hoop answered briskly. The meter jumped. "Obviously that has effected you strongly. Has the stress gotten worse since it happened?" Hoop's eyes narrowed. "What would you say if I told you we could make that stress go away?" The guy asked. Hoop handed him back the cans. "I don't WANT to forget my brother." "Oh- Oh NO, that's not at all what I meant." Hoop and I got up to leave.

"Here, just watch this video." Then the boy disappeared. "Let's just leave!" I hissed at Hoop. "Shhh, he's standing right behind us." My arms broke out in goosebumps. We pretended to watch the video, which threw around the word "Thetan" a lot. Finally the film was over. The guy, who saw how obviously unreceptive we were, showed us to the door. Hoop and I didn't even wait until the building was out of sight. We ran as soon as we got outside. When we eventually stopped, Hoop turned to me and said, "Oh my God."

"I know!" I shouted. "What the hell was that?" We walked in silence for a minute. "Do you think they brainwashed us?" Hoop whispered, looking behind us. I stopped and tried to think of the most anti-Scientologist thing I could think of. It finally came to me. "I hate Tom Cruise. I hate Tom Cruise. I hate Tom Cruise." I repeated mentally. "No," I finally said to Hoop. "I think we're OK." He exhaled loudly. "Well, you let me know if you start feeling funny, OK?" "Yeah, you too."

...To Be Continued.

P.S. I'm going to be out of my office all day tomorrow. My WWC submission will be set to auto-post. I'll check on everyone's entries on Wednesday.

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At 11 August, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is the funniest. No matter how rotten the day is going.. you do make me laugh!!

and I really do hate Tom.. ha ha

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Jay said...

If you start listing "Battlefield Earth" as your favorite book on Memes we'll know they got you.

Do you kill Scientologists the same way you kill zombies? Just wondering. ;-)

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Karen said...

Thanks for making me laugh today! That's hysterical! I had no idea they were just dragging people off the streets to recruit. Although, their big old headquarters is around Tampa isn't it?
I hope I am not brainwashed by just reading about your encounter. Just in case. I hate Tom Cruise, I hate Tom Cruise, I hate Tom Cruise.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger fiwa said...

*Whew* That was a close call! I guess if you did get brain washed, you could use your new psychic powers to contact us, and then we could come save you.

You are a nice finance they - I sent my husband off with his friend when that convention came through Seattle.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Knight said...

You are so lucky! I have tried to get into a center and talk to a few people but they want me to pay them and do free labor. I just wanted to see the crazy up close and personal and you did it! I wish you would have hugged them or something to see how they reacted. Then you would have Theatens all over your clothes so it's best you didn't. They used to have those damn stress tests set up all over the subway tunnels in NY. Of course NYers on public transit are stressed. I always wondered how many people feel for it.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger LL said...

"Think about something that has been causing you stress,"

It would be at this point I would have said... "The whole Zenu thing."

You've got to love how they can't be up front with their programs. Passing an audit off as a stress test... seems a bit deceptive to me.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger the planet of janet said...

if the alien spaceship shows up... RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Mary said...

LOL Thank God you made it out of there alive and not with your brain sucked out!!!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of the weekend

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger mrspao said...

Eek - that is a bit creepy but funny at the same time...

At 11 August, 2008, Anonymous Turtle said...

OMG! That is so funny and scary at the same time. Hopefully, there's no residual effects.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Gordo said...

Be very careful, Tink. Tom Cruise will be able to kill with a thought when he passes the next level. ;-)

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger meno said...

I think they did brainwash you. You must repeatedly drink to excess to cleanse yourself.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Maggie said...

Dr. Meno is right.

"Think about something that has been causing you stress" - Um, walking through your door?

At 11 August, 2008, Anonymous kcinnova said...


Although I love Hoop's response.

And at least he didn't say "Our wedding plans."

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Mike said...

Whaddya mean almost brainwashed.

I had SOOOO much fun with those scientologists.

He kept on doing the "no anger" speil and I made him get angry.

I had so much fun!

Come on over I'll show you how it's done

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Reb said...

EEK - close call! Glad you got out unscathed!

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Lisa said...

So funny. There is something on my blog for you :)

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Bizarro Aunt Jackie said...

Hell I've been to Ybor City, long time ago really now... but I liked it then. And I'm from Memphis, So I doubt Ybor could scare me much.

At 11 August, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Only you guys. *shakes head*

Belated happy birthday, Hoop!

At 12 August, 2008, Anonymous SgtTwistd said...


Im sorry! lol That sounds like a pretty effed up night! But it also reminds me of a Judas Priest song.

Better by you, better than me! ;)

I hate Tom Cruise!
I hate Tom Cruise!
I hate Tom Cruise!

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger gary rith said...

you partied with scientologists????

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Janet said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Hoop!!!

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger g-man said...

Happy Birthday Hoop, sit down and listen for the voices ...

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger captain corky said...

Please be very careful Tink!

I'm sure by now that both of your pictures have been sent to command central.

If I don't hear from you guys within the next 24 hours I'm going to send in a squad of Latter Day Saints!

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Fortune Cookies said...

Scientology bastards! They killed Chef, ya know! THOSE BASTARDS!
I'm just glad you made it out, seemingly un-brainwashed.
I'll keep a well trained eye on your blog for signs of washed-brain syndrome.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Chelle Y. said...

They always try to get me in the mall. One time, I was sitting with my nephews and son (they were really little) outside a store waiting for my sister. There was a Scientology booth in front of us and while I was watching the people looking at the crap, the boys started singing Sunday School songs.

I swear I did not tell them to do it. It made me laugh. They (the people at the booth) were not very happy.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Molly said...

Thank goodness you and Hoop are okay. Tom used to be rather cute. No wait, I hate Tom Cruise too; he is an idiot.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Chatty said...

Getting a pixie cut like Katie Holmes has would also be a clue that their spell is working - especially if the one getting the pixie cut is Hoop...but I figure you are safe - the only thing that kept you "trapped" there was your own innate politeness ; )

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

You escaped! That's all that matters. And you can thank Thetan for that.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger sheilah said... brother once unknowingly followed some girl into a Scientology place and we got crap in the mail from them for years.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger said...

I was scared half to death for you! I just kept going back and forth from hysterical laughter to gasping in horror. HAHAHAHA!

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger womaninawindow said...

That is so freaken funny AND creepy. We play the Xenu, he gonna git you game here alot. Even my poor and brain washed kids who think that Xenu isn't real...OH, Tom, please come and save our sorry asses.

At 12 August, 2008, Blogger rudecactus said...

You're going to hear a knock in the middle of the night and find Tom Cruise and his pal Xenu on your doorstep. You know that, right?

At 13 August, 2008, Blogger Starchy said...


Most...anti-scientologist thing you could think of... *gasp* *wheeze*

At 13 August, 2008, Blogger Alice said...

That's both funny and scary. Scientology creeps me out no end.

Stay away from the light girl!

At 16 August, 2008, Blogger Alli said...

All I can say is... HOLY CRAP!

How freakin scary.

I am so glad they didn't brain wash you 2, but it sounds like the sure tried. Thankfully you are noy weak minded!!



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