by Steven Fishman
2: Life Is Just A Present Time Problem
Why did she marry me?
Metra never loved me. No, she did not even like me. There was a more pressing reason than that.
Pop Pop Abe once promised her via my computer that he would return to life as her firstborn son, who she was going to call Michael.
Metra liked to draw. She actually had no talent, but she was an excellent tracer. She bought a tracing reproduction machine which she used to call 'Lucy', and she would create drawings of her son Michael, not as an infant or youth, but as an adult man; and at some point she also began to fall in love with her own drawings, and would daydream endlessly about her Michael and a cast of imaginary characters that Michael 'knew', which slowly replaced her fine judgment and reality.
And so, her mission in life was to marry her Pop Pop's choice for a husband and thereby provide the vessel for his return to life through her pregnancy.
This became a ritualistic obsession. There was a morning where I only had about five minutes to load a long letter of Abe's into the computer, and one of the items I had to talk about was the day that Metra was supposed to conceive her son. Well, I didn't have a calendar in front of me, and I calculated the date wrong, and it came back to haunt me, because I had to wait three days after my wedding night to have intercourse with her, since she was deathly afraid that she would have the 'wrong' baby, and that it would not be the life cycle of her grandfather if her timing were off.
Can you imagine how frustrating it was not to sleep with your wife during the first three nights of your marriage? Would anyone in the world believe what was happening to me? I know what the Quakers meant when they have publicly stated that "the only purpose of sex is for reproduction." After the famous night that Metra was certain her grandfather was conceived, she was in no hurry to try it again.
During the sexual act, there was no foreplay, no passion, and no romance. She felt totally inhibited because she was convinced that her grandfather was watching us, "waiting to come in at the right time."
There was one immense relief after "conception night." I no longer was burdened with the daily and often twice or three-times-a- day chore of loading Abe's long-winded messages into the computer.
After all, he was a zygote now, and had no access to the word processor. Abe's writing days were over, finally!
Metra pampered herself during the pregnancy. She was the typical Jewish American Princess 'kvetch', or chronic complainer. To appease me, she agreed to have sex with me twice a week, but after her fourth month, she decided that the motion was making her grandfather 'seasick', and she cut me off completely.
I didn't really care, because my former paramour Melanie was having problems with her Charlie, and she and I enjoyed the intrigue of cheating on our spouses together. Melanie was also pregnant at the time with her son Shannon, and I soon found out that pregnant women could enjoy sex just as much as before, despite my wife's lame excuses.
Melanie's husband Charlie was too stoned on street dope to care about pleasing his wife, and the arrangement worked out just fine. Metra's parents had by this time moved out of their condominium to a house in the Woodlands, at a fashionable golf community in Tamarac, Florida, but they spent most of their time at their primary residence in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. So Melanie and I used my in-laws' house as a convenient love nest. At times we questioned why we were married to other people when we enjoyed ourselves so much more.
Pop Pop Abraham Bachrach never came to fruition as Michael Fishman. On July 30, 1977, Metra, who since had changed her name legally to Jaime, gave birth to a baby girl, Arielle.
Metra also changed her last name to Nureyev, because she became infatuated with the dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. She soon filled the house with over two dozen pictures of him.
When our daughter was born, she instantly loved her as much as I did, and I was very happy that her disappointment over the failed appearance of Abe did not reflect on her love for our baby.
However, she sensed that something was amiss, and became exceedingly more cynical about the computer, the marriage, and me.
Months before, she had moved out of our bedroom into a guest room, on the pretext that I snored at night. Melanie never complained about my snoring, even though I usually fell asleep on top of her. In the eight years of 'marriage', Jaime and I never shared the same bedroom ever again.
Days after our daughter was born, I began to sense the effect that the deception of her grandfather's messages had on Jaime. She no longer trusted me, and in her skepticism and her cynicism, she became very obsessed with material possessions, while at the same time very disillusioned with her own hopes and dreams. I did not like the new Jaime. It was as if part of her died when her grandfather never arrived, and I had killed that part of her, although she was a very loving and devoted mother to Arielle.
But she no longer trusted me, and began charging me fees for sexual intercourse, a practice which lasted throughout the marriage.
I thought that a 'clean slate' would be a remedy, and I finally told her what I had done about Abe, and how I had manipulated her into marrying me in the realistic hope that I would be forgiven.
This made matters far worse, and the marriage from that point on never recovered from the shock of her learning the truth.
Where indifference and toleration toward me existed before, this now turned to a sadistic hate and a silent but mad rage, and I finally began to feel the wrath of the lady whom I had sprung from the computer's gilded cage.
Nevertheless I tried to be a good husband. After working all day at the shoe store, I spent seven or eight hours each night putting the entire household in a logical and thematic order. I gathered up the dirty diapers from the floor in my daughter's room, and shoveled up the teak brown care packages left scattered all over the floor for me by our beloved dog Rainbow. I worked vigorously to put all of the food inside the refrigerator in size place. I lined up the soup cans and vegetables, and arranged them by height, and then secondarily in alphabetical order. I left an equidistant space between each of them. I had the silverware arranged perfectly in the drawer until all of the spoons sang to me out of happiness. The furniture cried out with joy that I was creating such a perfect home for my lovely wife and my beautiful child, despite my great personal sacrifice of staying up long hours getting the work done. I made certain that every room in the house was truly pleased with my work before I went to sleep.
I begged Jaime not to touch anything in the house, and just do nothing but tend to the needs of our baby daughter. I got down on my knees and made her promise me to just read and watch soap operas all day when she wasn't taking care of Arielle; to have mercy on me, and simply not mess up the place.
Jaime understood my compulsive habits of neatness, organization and order. Therefore, she created chaos. She knew I was highly allergic to cats, so Jaime bought five of the meanest of them, and refused to change the kitty litter. We also had four dogs by then, as well as tropical fish, and the house was a disaster area all of the time. It reeked of a colonic waste depository that the Board of Health could not confront, and when questioned, Jaime said she did not have the heart or the ambition to discipline the animals, as she was constipated all of the time.
Jaime refused to cook dinner for me, and whenever she was forced to prepare meals for herself, she deliberately made food that she knew I couldn't stand. I hated garlic and onions, so everything she made had lots of those. I ate out by myself every night before coming home.
When I did come home, the house appeared to be attacked by a cyclone, despite my tediousness of the night before. I suspected that Jaime deliberately wreaked havoc just to irritate me, although I could not prove it. She never wanted to explain why all the silverware wound up in the bathtub every couple of days.
There was a method to Jaime's madness. Night after night, just putting everything back where it belonged, I became so exhausted after working to the wee hours of the morning, that of consequence I was too fatigued to pay her the normal ransom for intercourse.
For shortly after I confessed that I had tricked her into marrying me, Jaime began charging me five dollars per minute for sex. At the beginning she used a stopwatch, but several months later, she bought an elegant bakery timer, with a loud gong to it, so that after five minutes, no matter where I was in the act, the bell would ring and she would collect her twenty-five dollars and throw me off her and onto the floor. I did become proficient enough so as to avoid hitting my head on the night stand, but I often couldn't help crashing into it. If I had not been circumcised, Jaime would have been happy to oblige me with a chain saw. I got the impression that Jaime wanted me to leave her alone even more than she wanted me to give her the money.
I did not have any subjective reality on how other married couples lived, since we did not have any friends, but I thought that there possibly might be a decay in the harmony of our relationship.
The straw that broke the camel's back occurred on the 11th of March, 1979. It was Jaime's twenty-third birthday. Although I showered her with an assortment of stuffed animals, of which she had a vast collection, what Jaime wanted more than anything in the world was a month off from sex, but with full pay.
I could not understand that! I am a nice, decent type of guy. Do you honestly think I robbed Jaime of her youth? She said I did that. All I ever wanted to do was to own her, control her, use her and admire her. I was very honest about my feelings. I deeply loved the woman. I tried to convince her of that fact by taking care of the house for her. I treasured her like a rare piece of fragile furniture, and all I demanded was love in return. Why does marriage have to be such a one-way proposition? Aren't women supposed to like neatness and sex as much as men do?
Driving to work on the third day of my newly found abstinence, I heard a commercial on the radio about how the breakdown of relationships could be effectively handled. To my shock and surprise, it was an advertisement for Dianetics! Peter never told me that Dianetics solved things like that! Without further hesitation, I called the telephone number in the ad, which was 764-8445, in order to get directions on how to get to the Scientology Mission of Fort Lauderdale.
The Mission was located at 423 North Andrews Avenue in the downtown section of Fort Lauderdale, just four blocks from Broward Boulevard.
Urban renewal had not yet gotten under way, and the Fort Lauderdale bus terminal which was only three blocks from the Mission was a potpourri of drug addicts, alcoholics, strung out pimps, as well as the garden variety of old, dried up prostitutes that were too dismal to associate with for a man of my selective taste.
At night the mission was open to the public until eleven, and from the doorway there was always the visual impact of a drug deal, or the allure of the homeless wretch to the forgotten bench after the last toast of the day's vintage wood alcohol was long gone.
Under a full moon, behind the facade of a city lurking in despair, came my introduction to the Road to Total Freedom.
I cannot recall whether it was Ellen or Regina who greeted me at Reception, but I remember seeing a stained, curling sign which read 'Now Hiring' in bold letters. I hadn't come in for a job. The shoe business was just fine. I wanted something done about my wife.
Did you ever have a fantasy that you knew a kind, loving, truly pure-hearted ninety year old great- grandmother, with a prune face as withered and ugly as death, who above all else, treasured you as a person?
And then, there was Jaime, with a classic exterior, capable of impressing the most superficial of people with her ability to carry herself, to apply cosmetics, and to dress expensively, but with a black heart, devoid of all humanity, complete with overwhelming sloppiness along with her every lack of virtue.
Having once read a psych book on Transpersonal Orientation Therapy, I had this fantasy of doing a personality transplant on Jaime and the imaginary old woman, where I was able to place the soul, or spirit of each one inside the body of the other.
You probably had such a fantasy at least once. I thought about it all the time, probably every hour of the day, and although I did not want to become obsessive about it, I knew that somewhere, somehow, there had to exist the technology to do that.
Perhaps that ninety year old lady would have done very well as my wife in Jaime's attractive five foot one body.
I explained my fantasy to Barbara Fawcett, who was delighted to see me after three years. I surely thought that Barbara would assume I was too far off base after being that honest with her about my wife. But she looked at me, chuckled, and said, "We have the technology that could do exactly what you want!"
"Can you teach me how to perform a personality transplant?", I asked.
"Maybe not right away", Barbara whispered. "But we can sure give you the power you need to handle that wife of yours!"
The first step was to take a free personality test, known as an Oxford Capacity Analysis. It was a series of two hundred statements, which addressed various conditions of life, and I was asked to either agree, disagree, or express neutrality on each statement. Many of the references appeared to relate to obvious phobias, and in completing the test, I found that I was actually more 'sane' than I had previously given myself credit for, because so many of the choices were so brazenly psychotic. As a patient of Dr. Geertz for eleven years since 1968, I used to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Test all the time, but the Oxford Capacity Analysis, or OCA as Barbara called it, was far more bizarre.
Although I took the test honestly, Barbara diagnosed me as a "Theetie-Weetie Case", which meant I was unable to confront anything in life. I thought that was fabulous, because I thought I was above feeling any pain. But Barbara disagreed.
She insisted that I take some 'Dianetic Therapy', which she called a 'Life Upset Intensive', consisting of a five hour session that would address the areas of the marriage which were at risk of collapsing. The intensive seemed outrageously priced at three hundred dollars, but I concluded that marriage counseling would be roughly the same expense, and Barbara assured me that if I were not satisfied with the intensive I could have my money back.
While I was playing with indecision about the Life Upset Intensive, Peter Letterese walked in, and shook my hand with such determinism that I nearly lost it in the process. From the handshake, I thought he had remembered me.
"I'm the Director of Training here at the Mission!", he beamed.
I suddenly chilled with the realization he did not know who I was.
"I'm Steve Fishman!", I asserted. "Don't you recall, we met at Carol Wynn's house in Pompano Beach three years ago."
Peter looked at me from the corner of his eyes.
"I thought you are our State Senator!", Peter barked, finally putting me all together. "Doesn't he look just like him, Barbara?"
"What ever happened to Carol Wynn?", I asked.
"We'll have to find that out for you", he chuckled. "Barbara, remind me to look up her folder." He never did.
Still seated, Barbara glanced at Peter as if he were the lord master and heir apparent to the Mission.
"Steve came in for a Life Upset Intensive!", she announced. "Isn't that fantastic?"
I interrupted, not wanting Peter to get the wrong impression.
"No, I came in to find out about repairing my marriage. I don't want to buy a Life Upset Intensive", I said.
Peter stared into my face.
"Look, Steve. You're a businessman. I'll give you the bottom line. If the Life Upset Intensive doesn't change conditions in your life, you can have your money back. No questions asked. That's my personal guarantee."
Peter's assurances sounded very reasonable to me, and so I paid a fifty dollar deposit on the service, and scheduled it for the following day. I had over one hundred dollars with me, but I wanted to drive near the Fort Lauderdale Airport, because there was always a fresh assortment of flirty young women walking down Federal Highway near the old motels which used to buzz with activity before they threw them all down to expand the runways and build the new expressway. Very near Alamo Rent-a-car's old building, which before that used to be known as the Viking Restaurant, I met a bottomless dancer named Starr who was walking home from a sleaze club known as the Tunnel Bar in the Rio Vista section below Florida's only tunnel. I spent several hours talking to her about Scientology. When I came home, Jaime must have been asleep. After all, she lived in her own bedroom on the other side of the house. At least she never asked me why I was out so late. But that was nothing unusual. Jaime and I often did not speak to each other for three or four days. Customarily, I would leave early before she would get up, and come home to do my cleaning after she went to sleep. If it weren't for our one and one-half year old daughter, I would have wondered whether Jaime ever got out of bed at all. She often seemed very depressed, which was entirely selfish, since I made life so easy for her by not allowing her to mess up anything. I suggested that having more sex would actually help raise her spirits, but she replied that her spirit had already died, and that her body was not interested. I was nothing more than a paying customer. But at least the other prostitutes made me feel as if I was at least there. Even at five dollars per minute, Jaime insisted on reading a book while I was on top of her, and when she was too bored to finish the chapter, she would put a pillow over her face and fall asleep until the bakery timer's bell rang.
In the morning, while getting dressed for work, I heard the sound of water dripping. Several of our cats had trained themselves to urinate in the sink. But instead it was Jaime, half asleep, sitting on her own toilet with the door open.
"Do you know that there is something called Scientology that can help improve our marriage before we start having problems?", I asked her.
Jaime looked at me with one eye, as the entire bathroom was deluged in the fragrance of her rotting braces and week-old dirty underwear.
"The only thing that can help our marriage at this point is if you could stop cleaning up the house, and if you would cut your dick off. But if I find out that you paid any money to join some Moonie cult, there is no way in hell I am going to stay married to you!"
Reasoning with my illogical wife seemed to be completely out of the question.
Later that day, I told all of the intimate details of my sex life to Barbara Fawcett, who I in the last twenty-four hours, I had grown to treasure and respect highly as my very best friend.
"We are going to find out exactly why Jaime is putting you through all that," she reassured me as she walked me down the hall to a cell known as an auditing room. She had a paper in her hand called a "Routing Form", which seemed like unnecessary work, since I did not have to be "routed" anywhere beyond a few doors.
The auditing room had a tiny, high window that you could not see through, and was very stark and undecorated, with two old chairs that did not look very comfortable. Who ever heard of chairs for paying customers without soft cushions on them, or at least some decent armrests? Yet that was exactly what was facing me there. Between the two hard chairs was a table with a funny partition between them, so that the customer, whom they called a "preclear", could not see what the therapist, known as an "auditor", was writing down.
The auditor that Barbara assigned me to was a semi-unremarkable girl named Kathy. She had visibly once curly but now stringy hair of a colorlessness that only comes from natural fading. There were traces on her face of where make-up once lived, and her clothes would have subdued even the most ardently determined sexual assault. Her voice generally sounded like that of everyone else, and her figure appeared as if she might have possibly had breasts, but I was never sure. The one certain thing about her was that her shoes were bought on sale.
Kathy and I spent a few minutes before the auditing on something called "rudiments." This was a combination of getting to know a little bit about one another, finding out if there were any present time problems, and getting ready for the session.
I found out that Kathy was an "Academy Level Student" at a place in Miami called the "Org", which is a short form for Scientology Organization. This bothered me, because I was paying good money to get some therapy by a professional, not a student, and I told her that.
Kathy looked at me and smiled. Her teeth, though slightly grey, were as firm and straight as any rottweiler's or doberman's, and I was impressed enough to permit her to continue talking.
"You are having your first ARC break!", she laughed.
I looked at her kind of funny.
"Is that like when you get your period?", I asked her.
"ARC stands for affinity, reality and communication", she explained, not responding to my question. "ARC is a triangle, connected by lines, with the letters A, R, and C in the corners. Affinity is when you like someone. Reality is truth. Communication is causing an effect over a distance. If one of these three elements are out of the triangle, you have an ARC break. Have you got that?"
"What is all this?", I said amidst some frustration. "I just want to know why I just paid three hundred dollars for a student to talk to me instead of a teacher."
"So which of the elements are out?", she asked. "Your A, your R, or your C?"
"I don't believe this!", I mumbled to myself. "How can I tell if my A is out? I don't know if I like you or not! Did you cook me dinner? Did we sleep together? How can I tell if I like you? I don't think I dislike you. I just think you're slightly nuts, that's all."
Kathy was satisfied with my answer.
"Okay", she continued. "So your affinity is fine. That's your A. You have no problem communicating, so that shows me that your C is in. So what's left?"
"My R?", I answered, trying to make heads or tails out of all this.
"Yes! Your R is out!", Kathy screamed, quite proud of herself that I had 'cognited', or come to realize the concept. "You have no reality on me as an auditor, because I am an Academy Level Student! Your R is out, and that's great because now we can handle it!"
Kathy took the next ten minutes to explain how in the Academy at the Miami Org, she was drilled on auditing Life Upset Intensives on others, and because she had done so many "practicals", as she called the drills, there was no doubt that she was far more experienced and qualified to audit me on the Intensive than anyone else in the Mission, including Peter, Barbara, or Bruce; who happened to be the "Mission Holder", or highest executive there. I finally had reality that Kathy knew what she was doing. "Do you have a present time problem?", she then began.
"Yes!", I nearly shouted. "I hate my wife; she hates me even more; I have to pay her for sex; she treats me like shit; I wish that she would go into a coma, and I know that she would like to see me dead. Outside of these facts, and the added complication that she neither is able or willing to cook or clean up, we have a perfect marriage. We both love our daughter, and we want to make a better life for her."
"Very good!", Kathy responded, not giving me a clue whether she was delighted with my situation, or proud that I had answered her question. I later found out that she was acknowledging me, and that if I had told her that I pushed the button to start World War Three, her answer would have robotically still been "Very good!"
Kathy asked me, "What goals would you like to set for this session?"
"I need to know what to do about my marriage!", I answered. "That's what I paid you the money for!"
"Are there any goals you would like to set for Life or Livingness?", she went on.
"Yes!", I reacted. "How the devil can I enjoy life when I have to live with a bitch like Jaime?"
"We are going to find out all about that", she promised.
She then asked me if it was all right for her to audit me in the room we were in. Why should the room make any difference? I told her that the chairs were hard, and the walls would look better with a few pictures of some naked women, but I had no problem with a cubicle that reminded me of a musty prison. I told her the room was fine.
Kathy then put her hand on mine, in a platonic way, aspiring confidence.
"Are you willing to talk to me about your problems?", she asked.
"That's why I am here", I answered, uncertain as to why we were having all of these preliminary debates. I asked her what this line of questioning was for.
"We're just getting the rudiments out of the way", she explained. "The rudiments are designed to get you in shape to communicate with me as your auditor, and also to help you become interested in your own case. Look, it's right here on your Routing Form. That will give you some more R!"
Actually, the Life Upset Intensive was a lot of enjoyment to "run." Kathy explained that to "run" something means to undergo processing. Whenever there was a "M. U.", or misunderstood word, Kathy and I did "Word Clearing", which involved looking up the misunderstood word and using it in a sentence.
Kathy told me to recall both the pleasure moments as well as the pain of the marriage.
Pleasure moments? Were there actually any?
Of course. The first time I saw my daughter Arielle was the best pleasure moment. When I finally finished cleaning up the house each night was another. There was also a time after I had sex, when Jaime yelled "Next!" to make me laugh. It was nice to recall the good times.
I never knew there was a science to recalling mental image pictures. Kathy asked me to fill in the pictures by describing things like sight, sound, smell, touch, color, external motion, body position, weight, and emotion of each incident. I felt like an artist, making each picture in my mind come to life as I filled in all of the missing sensations, which Kathy called "perceptics." A surge of power and ability came over me as I found myself fully able to create these perceptics. It was just as easy to recall the painful incidents the very same way.
After I finished "running" pleasure and pain, Kathy asked me to tell her about times that Jaime had harmed me, and then other times when I had harmed Jaime. Harm was described as mental cruelty, physical abuse, and of course, emotional hurt. Kathy lumped these all together and called this harm by the term "overt acts", or simply "overts."
I told Kathy about how I had brainwashed Jaime into marrying me by resurrecting her dead grandfather, Pop Pop Abe, in the computer for her to access. I don't think she ever heard anything like that before. She was writing down everything I said on a Worksheet which I could not see because of the wooden divider between us, on the top of the table.
Then Kathy asked me to tell her about "withholds", which were things I did not tell Jaime, or withheld from her.
"Auditing and withholds?", I asked. "Are you sure I am not in a tax office?"
Either Kathy had no sense of humor, or she was selectively deaf. But whenever I strayed from the purpose of the session, she did not acknowledge what I verbally threw up at her. She just repeated the auditing question until I answered it to her satisfaction.
It all seemed so thorough and so perfectly structured! Dr. Geertz never was as professional as this! But, of course, what did Dr. Geertz know? The old bearded Teutonic Freudian psychologist had to be treating me by the seat of his pants. He knew nothing about Scientology, so what could I ever expect from him?
"Are you withholding anything from me?", Kathy then asked.
"Other than the fact that I am a perverted sex degenerate who turned a perfectly good wife into a prostitute, I'm withholding nothing!", I said, trying to force her to laugh.
She did little more than glance, although she intently jotted down every word I said. She had such a phenomenal presence, like she was really 'there', but yet nothing I said to her had any negative effect on her willingness to help me.
I asked her about her apparent professionalism. She told me that she had been carefully drilled in a series of training routines, or "TR's" as they are called. The "TR's" get you tough enough so that you are able to confront anything that the "preclear" says to you. You could be insulted, cursed, and even spit on, and your ability to confront would still be there. What I falsely assumed was Kathy's lack of reaction was only a greater ability to confront me as a person. It was a marvellous skill, I thought.
After that was done, Kathy said we were going to run "Failed Help", and asked me to confront how I had failed to help Jaime. She asked me repeatedly the question, "How have you failed to help your wife?" Each time I had to give her a new reason as to how I failed to help her.
By the time this drill was over, I realized that I never wanted to help her. All I ever wanted to do was use and control her for sex. With each time that I failed to help her, I failed even more in the area of controlling her. It all came down with misunderstanding the word "help."
I had been equating "help" with "sexual control." I realized during this session that I had always regarded these two different acts as the very same thing! Every time I had paid a prostitute to control her sexually, I was helping her by giving her money. That was the origin of how the words became equated in my reactive mind. The reactive mind was that part of the mind that reacted without my being aware of it, unlike the analytical mind, which I am aware of. Scientology found this relationship, and in only five hours. I had been seeing Dr. Geertz for eleven years, and my basic confusion had never even dawned on him!
"Scientology really works!", I said to myself, having found a fundamental truth about a new slant on life.
There was a feeling of deep excitement in the Mission. I could not put my finger on it, but it seemed like some great force was in the air, and it was strangely magnetic. The atmosphere was so unlike my home, where Jaime manufactured invisible particles of boredom which were so heavy that they would put me to sleep when I least wanted to be. There was none of that here. Staff members rushed around, very dynamic and highly motivated. I finally caught a glimpse of Bruce, the Mission Holder. He was running from one office to another, as if he had to catch a train.
"What's all the urgency?", I asked him.
"We're trying to Clear the planet!", he shouted, losing his breath as he ran.
"Clear the planet?", I thought to myself. "The quickest way to Clear the planet is to just blow it all up!"
I had no idea that what Bruce was talking about was in raising the awareness level of the planet to the state of Clear, which is a state in which "someone could confront anything and everything in the past, present and future", and in which one "who can be at cause knowingly and at will over mental matter, energy, space and time".
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