Growing up…A trip to Fanny Farmer in Central Square for me was better than a trip to the toy section of Sears and Roebucks in the late 60’s. The toughest part for me however was pushing past the Transcendental Meditation (TM) recruitment zombies that stood on the corner in front of Cochrans.
“Want to take a personality test…free?”
The first time I was approached it was by an awesome looking college aged girl… I said; sure figuring that I’d spend a little time chatting and googling her. I didn’t know what a Personality test was anyway… but figured it would be like taking a survey. It might even be fun…. But once she said that we would have to go down the block to the TM Center I felt a ting of conflict…
The conflict was ….which would I rather be doing as a prepubescent teenager… eat massive amounts of Fanny Farmers Chocolate ….or take a personality test from a hottie college chick. Luckily for me then.. my sweet tooth (at least during that point in my life) would always take win the battle for my attention.
I learned more about the recruitment process used by the TM group along with several other cult type organizations in an around the Cambridge area while writing a high school research paper.
I found these groups looked for people who looked stressed, emotionally vulnerable, have tenuous or no family connections, or are living in adverse socioeconomic conditions.
Well I must admit the recruitment characteristics did match me….
Stressed – The money I was ready to spend at Fanny Farmers I “borrowed” from my brother John’s pocket while he was sleeping. Even though he secured his bedroom door with a chain lock I was particularly adept at using a broom handle to snag his jeans from his bedroom floor and sliding them within reach. His pockets were alway flush with change… I figured he’d never notice …. but thinking he might did cause me to be stressed.
Emotionally Vulnerable – In a nutshell the biggest cause of my emotional vulnerability was due to my Catholic guilt. It’s the doing of things I shouldn’t be doing, and the not doing what I should be doing! There was always an endless supply of deeds I can do to be a good Catholic. i.e. Pray more, give more, help more. And there was always things I should be doing less of…. Like not clipping your big brothers pocket change…
At the end of the day, as I go over what I do and what I saw, what else could I have done? I always come up with a lot I could have done, and that’s where I got my Catholic Guilt based Emotional Vulnerability.
Tenuous or no family connections – Well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this one. If my brother finds out I nicked his change my life at home is gone be tenuous at best… He’ll disown me for sure… and I’ll move down the scale from family member to personal servant / employee for life.
Living in adverse socioeconomic conditions: If my mother finds out I’ll not only be working to pay off the misappropriated funds with interest but a fair amount of my earning will be going to St Anthony’s collection box as Mea Culpa money… and my mantra will become… mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, which is usually translated as “through my own fault, through my own fault, through my most grievous fault.”
In the Final Analysis
Even though I did not fall prey to the TM recruitment process I did learn a lot about myself. I bought a full white box full of my favorite Milk Chocolate Chunk Block candy. I sat on the wall of the First Baptist Church on Magazine street and ate every morsel in that box. Powered by guilt…. I devoured the chocolate blocks like I was drug dealer destroying evidence in a Police raid. I ate it so fast that it made me sick… so sick that when I went home my mother asked what was the matter with me…. The Catholic guilt kicked in and I confessed..
Personality and Character are traits developed through our experiences.
Personality is made sweet or sour by our actions,
Character is forged by means of a suffering soul…
Mea Culpa… Mea Milk Chocolate Chunks….Mea Culpa…