I just realized it’s been a month since I posted anything. Man, life just gets in the way sometimes. In any case, it’s a new year and blogging must go on!
Today, I want to tell you a story. It’s not a true story, but it might be a good story.
It’s about a man who, upon being pestered by his own curiosity, wanted to see what the fuss was all about. He got dressed up, went into town, and arrived outside a place that may or may not have looked anything like this:
He waits in a longish line for a little while as the door is guarded by a youngish man who is smiling and friendly. People are going in, he can hear music playing, and as the door opens every few seconds or so he can hear the party commencing inside.
Finally, it’s just about his turn to go in. So, as two people enter up the stairway and into a obviously hopping party inside, our protagonist “John” steps up to the bouncer named “Pete”.
Pete: Good evening sir. Name, please?
John: John B. Godless
Pete: Godless, eh? OK, let me check the list.
Pete scans his list, shakes his head and half-smiles to John in a way that displays both disappointment and perhaps some veiled enjoyment.
Pete: Sorry John, you are not on the list.
John: So, that means what? I can’t get into Heaven? I mean, this is the only club in town, right?
Pete: No, there is the downstairs club, Hellfire. Although its sort of a kinky club; lots of being tied up, beaten, and so forth. Not really my sort of thing.
John: Yeah, doesn’t sound like my sort of thing, either. Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do to get into Heaven?
Pete: Look, there are a lot of people trying to get in behind you, and you don’t even know the owner anyway. How do you expect to get in without being his friend.
John: Wait, the owner? Who is the owner, and why does that matter?
Pete: See? You don’t even know Hank. He is the man! I mean, he knows everyone, everything, and runs this town. He is pretty much all-powerful, is what I mean. He’s the nicest guy I have ever known of. He’s pretty much perfect, at least from what I hear….
John: Wait, have you even met him?
Pete: Listen, I just work the door, ok?
John: But you have never met him?
Pete: No. I don’t need to. I have read his book, and it has inspired me to be the person I am today. I could not be here without Hank’s help.
John: OK, whatever. But, didn’t you just say that this guy knows everyone?
John: Great, then he knows me, as well as everyone else in this line, so how about you just prop the door open and come in with me and all these people can just come in. Is the room big enough for everyone?
Pete: Well, yes, it can fit everyone, but that’s not the point. There are rules.
John: Rules, what rules?
Pete: You know, this.
Pete hands John a book entitled “How to be Hank’s Friend.” John looks at it, and recognition dawns on his face.
John: Oh, that! Yes, I have read some of that that. It was not really a very good book, I thought. Archaic, derivative, and sort of cruel, actually. I am really not sure I want to be Hank’s friend, if that is the kind of book he writes.
Pete: Well, why do you want to go to his club then?
John: Well, I’m sort of here already aren’t I? And I have to either go here, to the downstairs club, or just go away right? Given those choices I would prefer this place, I guess. Listen, how about I just head on in, ok?
Pete: sir, that’s not going to happen. You are going to have to go downstairs, sir.
John: Wait, what? Why do I have to go downstairs? I don’t want to go to that club.
Pete: Sorry, those are the rules. Either you get in here or you go downstairs.
John: Nevermind, I’m just going home then.
Two large men step out from behind Pete and surround John
John: Um, what is going on here?
Pete: Don’t resist. You can’t anyway. You are going to the downstairs club.
The two men grab hold of his arms and begin to drag him to a stairway leading downstairs while John struggles to get loose.
John: What the hell is this?
Pete: Sorry, it’s either Heaven or Hellfire. You chose Hellfire
John: What are you talking about? I never chose to go to that club.
Pete signals to the two men to stop for a moment, and they turn John, who has temporarily stopped struggling, back towards Pete.
Pete: It’s in the book written by Hank. His rules, in his town—and it’s all his town, buddy–say that if you don’t become his friend you can’t get into his club and therefore must go to the other, downstairs, club.
John: But it’s just a book! It’s not the rules for the universe or anything, is it? I mean, I read a lot of it, at least what I could get through anyway. I mean, I thought it was a metaphor about how not being his friend was like not being able to go to the cool places in town or something. I didn’t think it was literal, and that people actually believed that silliness. You, or Hank for that matter, can’t do this!
Pete: He can, and he will.
John: But that’s ridiculous, absurd, unjust!!
Pete: It’s in the book.
John: Yeah, but I don’t believe the book. I’ve never even seen this Hank, which is weird considering how powerful, knowledgeable, and nice he is. How can I be his friend if I never even get a chance to meet him.
Pete: You don’t need to meet him. Most of us just send him text messages, emails, or maybe just go to your local Hank center and learn about his great career and accomplishments once a week or so. Just follow his great teachings and you would be successful and you could hang out in the cool club. But now, you will have to go to the downstairs club, that’s just how it is.
John manages to get free from one of the two men’s grasp and tries to step towards Pete, now visibly infuriated.
John: Wait just one damned minute! If This guy is so Powerful, he could at least have sent me a damned text message, email, or even come over for dinner once in my life!
Pete: He’s a busy man. He does not have time to come to your house. and besides why would he have your contact info or have to contact you?
John: Oh that’s bullshit and you know it! You just told me he knows everyone, everything, and can do anything he wants, right?
Pete: Well, maybe he just didn’t want to be friends with you. Maybe he just doesn’t want you in his club.
John: Oh, well then he’s not a very nice guy. I mean, who runs the whole town, only allows two clubs, and then when this elusive and invisible all-powerful jerk sees you coming doesn’t let you into the party? Sounds like an ass-hat to me!
Pete: Or maybe you are just ignoring him?
John: No, never heard from him. Just lots of people talking about him, and I don’t understand why they like this asshole anyway.
Pete: Don’t talk that way about Hank. He does not like it, and then he will be angry with you.
John: So? What’s the difference? I still can’t get into club Heaven, can I?
John: No! You know what? I don’t like this guy, Hank, if he even exists. I’ll bet he’s a made-up character, sort of like the Marlboro Man, designed to market an idea—a product. I’ll bet this is just a big marketing scheme to get people to buy Hank’s books, go to his weekly motivational lectures—run by his so-called protegees because he never shows up to any of them, from what I have seen—and then to make all you so-called ‘Friends of Hank’ feel superior to those of us who won’t get into his club!
Pete: Sir, keep it down, you are upsetting the people in line waiting to get in….
John: I don’t care! They are all sheep anyway, trying to go to this idiotic club. I was only trying to get in because the girl I have been dating said she has been looking forward to going here, and I wanted to see what the big deal was. But I would rather go to the downstairs club with all those people than be this asshole’s friend, damn it!
Pete: Well, you will get your wish, loser! It’s hot down there, and you will be tied down, beaten, and surrounded by all of Hank’s enemies.
John Smiles, straightens himself up, and then laughs a little to himself
John: Well, Pete, I’ll tell you what. A hot, S&M club with free-thinking people who don’t fall for Hank’s self-help manipulation scheme sounds infinitely better than being in that club upstairs with what sounds like really bad music, boring people, and the possibility of being around that megalomaniac Hank. I bid you a good night, and I hope you one day see how absurd your little club is.
Pete looks at him for a moment, then turns away shaking his head. As he does so, a woman brushes past him towards John and reaches out to him, softly touching his shoulder. he turns, sees her, and smiles brightly.
John: Jane? there you are!
Jane: yes, I heard what you said, John. I was behind you in line, and didn’t see you until they started dragging you away. What you said makes so much sense. I think, John, I want to be with you. I want to be Mrs. Godless someday, maybe, as well. Let’s go to that other club, because anything is better than Club Heaven, I think.
She kisses him briefly and takes his hand as they walk together, unaided by the two men, down the stairs to the Hellfire club.
Pete (to the next people in line): Well, some people are just lost. Hank-bless them! They’ll need it, I’m sure. Next! Name please….
Person in line: Borin S. Christian, sir
Pete: now, that’s a better name. In you go!
Like I said, not a true story, but perhaps an interesting story.