This is the ninth installment (plus bonus) of the account of a journey into and out of scientology — written by one of our long-term readers. I hope you enjoy her insights, humor and style.
Lili also provided a glossary of terms.
Through the Bubble – Lili’s Adventures in Scientologyland
This is my quirky recollection of events. Others may remember things differently. Lingo is italicized on the first mention, capitalized after that. I’ve compressed complexities in the cult to simplify your reading pleasure.
Part Nine and Nine.Five
Falling Back on Old Coping Mechanisms Instead of Making it Go Right
My excellent, Paul-Finch-inspired Fuller Brush productivity could fill half a delivery van for my every two-week order. Jim Bob lost his roommate status, probably because, between his orders and mine, the house’s two-car garage was rendered unusable for days at a time. Possibly lethal amounts of artificial scent from twenty-plus cases of mixed cleaning products found their way through the cracks, up into the main house. Too bad they weren’t chain smokers.
My next order came to our love nest. Even in the back bedroom with the door shut, the smell gave me a headache. Josh and I realized this would never work. In my best, wrap a problem in a bow, put it on a silver platter, and hand it off to someone else to deal with, method of problem solving, I swanned over to see Mom at The Oakes. My screaming emergency was too many Fuller Brush boxes to fit into our little rental. And the unreliable on-street parking made loading deliveries into Blueberry, my VW bug, a difficult and potentially dangerous activity. It was pushing that danger Button that caused Mom to short circuit and bypass the good sense that would have sent me packing. Sorry, Mom.
Mom held her nose for several months while the basement beneath her, and sometimes her bedroom, got stuffed with, A: boxes of various smelly cleaning products: because no one can flog cleaning products, like someone who’s gotten paid to scrub toilets. B: boxes of bagged-up deliveries, organized into cartons based on their geographic delivery locations. And C: boxes of free vegetable brushes; simply the best free gift ever.
I was making princely sums from this foray into bearding the odious challenges caused by Santa Barbara’s, A: hard water and attendant corrosive lime deposits. And B: Santa Barbara’s moth and silverfish infestation that failed to die off in a non-existent winter frost.
It was obnoxious getting the occasional door slammed in my face. And the few male groping experiences I had, which a sharp elbow knocked off, should have been more alarming. But I had sales goals to reach, so I treated it like getting stepped on by my horse. By the way, if a horse steps on your foot, just elbow them in the nearest body part and they’ll move off.
In the good news department, I met some wonderful people and got invited into beautiful homes. I was fed, took home cookies, was given bags of used (but very nice) clothes, and had conversations that elevated my life.
Selling Fuller Brush was hard, but everything I ever did afterward was easier. The lessons I learned from Paul Finch, my customers, and making myself ring the next doorbell after someone sneered at me, or yelled “get a real job,” taught me to trust in my ability to bounce back and persist. Those lessons also built a wall of strength against any fear that I couldn’t take care of myself. A happy bonus was the reduced insecurity about the exact amount that Josh loved me compared to my tsunami of love for him.
While I walked up the landscaped driveways in my upper East Side territory, which I adored, I’d think about what I wanted to do next. There was an older, career Fuller Brush Man who’d bought a house decades earlier from a customer and raised his family. Looking into his Fuller-Brush-stuffed garage didn’t make me see a future that sparkled. Like the bricklayer, he could only sell so much, only stuff so many deliveries in his station wagon, and only work so many hours in a day.
I knew I could sell stuff. But I thought it made more sense to, A: sell something smaller. B: sell something that didn’t stink. And C: sell something that cost a lot more per item. I always made more money when people bought six bottles of Germicidal Cleaner instead of one, and when I sold limited fancier items like wood-handled boar-bristle hairbrushes and those expensive scissors from Germany that Fuller Brush imported one year. They were great. I still have two pairs.
Mom chafed under the bondage of twice-monthly stinky deliveries. The frantic unpacking, sorting, and bagging activity took place with a solitude-demolishing top-ten-hits radio accompaniment. Blueberry chugged up and down the dirt driveway, leaving behind moving veils of dust. My energetic and laudable productivity failed to endear me to any commune denizens. In love with the peace and tranquility of The Oakes, they found my frequent visitations more vexatious than reunion-happy. A cliff loomed.
Streamlining-The-Playbook Business Blunders, That Pass Over Who Peddles Your Products
Paul Finch was getting ready to hang up his boots. Rumblings from the Fuller Brush executive suite foreshadowed bad things to come. Paul was retirement age, and his wife was ready for that Royal Caribbean Cruise porthole suite and follow-up Florida retirement-village life.
In the early eighties, the economy tanked. Corporate America everywhere girded its loins in a race to the bottom; bottom-line-profits, that is. And women went to work in growing numbers. This left doorbells to echo in lonely vestibules. No doubt some glad-handing Fuller Brush executive got busy gleefully axing the ‘unnecessary’ middle management positions. No doubt to guarantee there would be enough beans left at the end of the year to reward him with a handsome bonus for his brilliant corporate downsizing.
This was the absolute worst time for the Fuller Brush Salespeople to be abandoned by the holders of the history and wisdom of home care products and sales techniques. Jim Bob was kind of a tool, but he had helped me out with a place for my deliveries. He’d also talked an over-it Fuller Brush salesman under him, who neglected the best territory in town, Hope Ranch, into giving it to me.
Jim Bob’s monthly commission check bumped up. I wasted less time and gas. And my illustrious to no-one-but-us-sales-grunts, door-to-door career got a boost in longevity. But the crucible of societal change was melting the fabric of stay-at-home America. Fuller Brush Men, struggling with a loss of at-home buyers, were dropping like dodo birds.
Thanks to Paul’s mentorship, I’d saved the phone numbers of many of the homes in my territory. I risked cauliflower ear, using the phone for hours, getting repeat orders, and scheduling deliveries. I’d take the lowliest order, like a Hollyberry-room-freshener, retail – $2.99, just to get the delivery appointment. Then I’d free-veggie-brush you, schmooze you, demo you, and get the big orders. Cuz you were working now, and that broom wasn’t going to replace itself. Plus, the ones at the store were garbage. You needed Fuller Brush quality. I still have Fuller Brush brooms and mops, forty years later.
I survived the shrinking-prospect pool while my compatriots dropped like ash after a wildfire. Finding the shy-household-products-buyer in their increasingly abandoned home habitat involved hours on the phone before answering machines. I plied my trade in nimble new ways, in a Brave New World of corporate abandonment.
Theoretically, I was still the only girl Fuller Brush Man West of the Mississippi. Gender fluidity hadn’t yet rendered the tired Fuller-Brush-man stereotype obsolete. Change was knocking hard on Fuller Brush corporate’s door, but they turned a deaf ear.
Cleaning Toilets and Banging on Doors
One of my Fuller Brush clients couldn’t seem to keep the same cleaning lady for more than a month. She called me over to her house multiple times to teach her latest cleaning lady how to use the Fuller Brush products to fight lime deposits, make the chrome fixtures sparkle, and knock down the cobwebs with our cobweb brush. Yup, I sold a ton of those. I don’t know where her pool of cleaning ladies came from, but they kept quitting. In desperation, she asked me what I’d charge her to clean her pristine home. I didn’t really want a cleaning job unless I could make a hefty fee. I said ninety dollars.
It grew quiet. Every good salesperson knows the first to speak after a critical negotiating point loses the battle. Little Miss Chatterbox sat on her hands and looked at the bright kitchen. In silence. The woman across from me owned her own business, and we had a friendly mutual respect going. She could be a bit much. But I wasn’t afraid of her confidence, power, or pickiness. She finally sighed and said, that’s a lot. I nodded and asked if Tuesday mornings would work for her.
I found my weekly time at her house restful. She found my superior product wrangling pleasing. Fuller Brush customers regularly tried to hire me to clean their houses. I started throwing out high-priced offers and getting more cleaning jobs. I was getting way more than ten dollars an hour. This was money I could count on for paying bills. This was work I could do in a crap mood.
Having to force a smile after carrying my heavy sample case to a series of empty homes, braving frowny-faced disrespectful non-customers, and crap weather was not the way to happiness. I still made more money per hour on average, selling Fuller Brush products, but this housecleaning gig was a close second and a nice change in my routine.
The Emotional Tone Scale, Controlling People and Josh’s New Purpose
I’d turned nineteen. Life seemed pretty good in the love department. Josh and I would go on multi-hour epic hikes in the hills behind Santa Barbara every Sunday, ravenously devour a pizza, then catch a movie. The rest of the week, I worked all the hours of the day with door-to-door solicitation, cleaning houses, and of course, my shining purpose, to learn L Ron Hubbard’s discoveries about the mind and spirit.
About this time, Josh told me his goal was to help people. The Scientology Human Resources woman was often drawing him aside. She’d love-bomb him and tell him how special he was. And how helpful he could be to Scientology and the Planetary Clearing Program with some exclusive L Ron Hubbard training.
According to her, this training was so exceptional that he’d have to fly to Florida to get it. Scientology planned to sort out this Sector of the Galaxy by Clearing the Planet. This was something no other group was ethical enough to pull off. Judging by how often I got pulled into Ethics, scrubbed toilets, or the latest grunt work on the to-do list for Amends-projects, they did seem to be the, totally, totally, fer sure, fer sure, Ethics leaders of the world.
This Planet Clearing, and going Clear, (an essential step in our future enlightenment on the Bridge to Total Freedom) involved getting rid of the Reactive Mind, the bad-voice mind. Thus, leaving you rational and Analytical Minded, grinning like a loon, and making people uncomfortable by looking them in the eyes for too long. Maybe we’d end up with better Confront than the Dalai Lama. That’s not in the promo.
I was hoping to go Clear and beef up my Analytical Mind. I needed to overrule my Reactive Mind’s urge to say things I later regretted. Or impulsively do stuff that, upon reflection, could have been done a smarter way. In other words, I wanted to be more mature.
I could have just suffered the usual humiliation when life slapped you upside the face and gutted it out until I figured it out. But no. I bought the whole two-minds concept Scientology was flogging and their sparkly Clear solution.
In no universe did I want Josh to join staff. But his reason for wanting to join up was this beautiful purpose. His desire to help people made my chest tight and my eyes sting. Yet another reason to love him. Here I was, selfishly using every nugget I gleaned in my Scientology study to goose my income statistic and stay ahead of my stupid credit card bills, and there was Josh, who just wanted to use his talents to help people live a better life.
Among the prosperity arrows in my quiver of new Scientological skills was the trick of changing a person’s mood. L Ron Hubbard came up with the Emotional Tone Scale, a numbered list of emotions from Body Death, 0.0, to Serenity of Beingness, 40.0. If I met up with an angry sales prospect, 1.5 on the scale, I’d act like I was in Boredom, 2.5 on the scale. And pretty soon, they got bored too. Then I could show Mild Interest, 2.9 on the scale, and whip out a free gift, do a demo, or show them the catalog. I’d often get the sale.
Another L Ron Hubbard skill I Drilled was how to control people. I learned that if you got a person to complete a task and you Acknowledged them, they were more willing to listen to you. If my sales prospect was glued to CNN or otherwise distracted, I’d cough and ask for a glass of water. If that didn’t pull them from their other focus, I’d ask for a Kleenex. By then, I had their attention. And maybe I turned the volume down when they’d left the room.
I learned that Control technique as part of my Auditor training. To be an effective Auditor and give a proper Session, I had to Control the person’s attention and wrestle it away from their combative Reactive Mind. If I wanted to get a result.
So yeah, I used my new skills to sell more stuff. Jumping Guy thought that using my Scientology learnings to flog unspiritual material-universe crap was a transgression against humanity and I should just join staff to make up for my bottom-feeding, grasping, greediness. The Registrar thought I should buy another Course and double my income.
I bit my tongue (mostly,) about my petty desire to keep Josh from joining staff. Any Good Scientologist who’d hear me beg him not to join staff would have written me up in a Knowledge Report. And I’d have gone straight to Hell, er Ethics. And possibly be drummed out of the corps and separated from my one true love.
Josh signed his five-year contract to work for Scientology full-time. He worked from 1pm to 10pm Monday thru Friday and all-day Saturday. Oh yeah, and he was supposed to go there from 9 till noon Monday thru Friday to study L Ron Hubbard’s management teachings. Somehow, he never got home before 11pm, but who’s quibbling? His shiny new Scientology job didn’t pay as well as his previous full-time, minimum wage job, but he had more responsibility. Yay? And having him be the new Ethics Officer, sounded like a lot less toilet-scrubbing-to-Clear-the-Planet for me. Yay.
Josh saved a marriage on the rocks right off the bat. The happy young wife told me what a hero Josh was and gave me a super cute teddy bear to give him. His open door and friendly brand of Ethics, changed the perception of being “called to Ethics.” He just wanted to make sure you were doing well. What L Ron Hubbard Bulletins had he studied that the last guy hadn’t?
Part – 9.5 Bonus Chapters
Segment 9.5 of this memoir doesn’t delve into Scientology. Therefore, you could skip this section and still be fine when you come back next Sunday. However, you’d miss a Herculean effort in the Fuller Brush Olympics department. That’s actually not a thing. But it was a big deal to me.
In addition, you can read why my excitement-meter went back into outer-space mode over the prize I won.
The $7,000.00 Challenge and Working All the Days, Including Sundays
I dreaded the imminent loss of Paul Finch. As far as I was concerned, he was the brightest light in the Fuller Brush firmament. He was smiling with grim resolve in the face of plummeting area sales. But he planned to go out with a bang. Paul and the big boss, who ran Fuller Brush’s sales teams at the State level, cooked up the mother of all challenges for me.
The challenge Paul’s Boss came up with, was for me to sell $7,000.00 in one thirty-day period. This was in like 1978. People didn’t pay $7,000.00 for a car. Unless they were some sort of trust-fund deviant. Like I’d know. I planned and strategized. I mapped the richest sections in my new Hope Ranch territory and old favs in my Upper Eastside territory.
I woke that first day of the challenge, and leaped out of bed, like I’d burst from the starting blocks on track team. I spent all day that Sunday dialing for dollars. No, they weren’t all at church. I took orders, I told them I was in a contest, and I racked up insane sales figures in the next days, evenings, and weekends. Delivering all this was going to give me a hernia. Not really.
Paul wasn’t hosting sales meetings anymore. Other than me, the local Fuller Brush sales corps was pretty much decimated. Paul tried to turn their foundering ships away from the rocks with radioed messages, to use their phone, leave sale catalogs on doorsteps, and work on the weekends. But they’d barely listened to him before, not recognizing the towering intellect and generosity of this beautiful man. He knew that one great performing salesperson was not going to save a job that was breaking his heart.
Paul poured himself into my challenge, checking in with me daily, warning me of items that were discontinued. This was because I hated the new catalogs the Fuller Brush brass came up with. Tone deaf pictures of women smiling while they mopped, wearing dresses. Grinning while sweeping with the Fuller Brush broom, and looking sexually aroused while spraying degreaser foam, on a perfectly clean stove top. Who does that? I worked out of the older catalog, with the, just-the-facts pictures of the products, pasting over the old pricing with the new.
Paul joined me on deliveries, for a couple days near the end of the challenge. When the customer gave me the last item on their order, he’d ask a few questions, make them laugh, and they’d add his suggestions to their orders. Those final times he came with me, just so we could be together, and talk shop, are a precious memory.
Paul’s Boss was a gourmet. Today he’d be a foodie. Like me. Maybe he helped me be a foodie. Paul’s boss knew of a very snooty private French Restaurant called the Coolibah in Meiner’s Oakes, near Ojai. It was only open on Friday and Saturday nights. It was run by a husband-and-wife chef team who had retired from some five-star restaurant life in France or something. It was a big deal. It would be a seven course, prix-fixe menu meal. I didn’t know what prix-fix was. I should look that up in the dictionary. Anyhoo, Paul’s Boss wouldn’t make the reservations until I put in my second campaign order and the two orders added up to $7,000.00 in sales.
Evidently, CEO’s, presidents, and dignitaries from other countries, had flown across the continent to eat at this place. Paul’s Boss wrote me a letter that came a week after I put in the final winning order. I was wrung out. But I’d done it. When I thought I couldn’t keep up the pace, Josh massaged my shoulders, cooked for me, and supported me.
In the letter that Paul’s Boss sent, he stressed the dress code. Only a dress for me. No skirts. Suit and tie, or tux and tails, for Josh. No blue jeans. I wondered why he’d say no blue jeans when he’d just told us Josh had to wear a suit and tie. The date of our reservation was a month hence on a Friday night. That was a staff work night down at Scientology for Josh. He figured out how to get the time off. He got a haircut. I got a trim. Paul was going to pick us up in a rented car. His old Buick’s back seat would never recover from years of spilt cleaning products and he wouldn’t risk us being denied entry, due to our butts smelling like lavender furniture polish.
On the ride down, Paul’s wife chatted about a series of inane subjects that only daytime TV watchers could follow. Josh looked at me cross-eyed and I laughed on the inside. As an experienced listener to inane conversation, I only found it annoying that Paul had to go home with her at the end of the night. I wondered if she had started celebrating before getting into the car.
The Coolibah, Blue Jeans, and Mai Tais
Once we arrived, Paul located the unmarked building. I was sure he had read the directions wrong. I’d seen better looking buildings in industrial parks. Oops, there was a very nice-looking church over there. Why would we be going to this squatty-ass building in a big church parking lot?
Oh, wait. There was a Mercedes Benz prowling our way. And not one of the oldies where they convert the Mercedes symbol into a peace sign. It was all black, with tinted windows and as shiny as a dealership sample. The kind they put up on the turning display. Okay. Maybe this was the place. Then a maroon Jaguar flowed into a parking spot. A liveried driver opened the door for someone way more important than us. Like watching TV, we sat in the parked rental car and commented as the expensive vehicles pulled in and disgorged famous people we didn’t know. There was no red carpet, but watching the gowned, suited, and tuxedoed splendor, was a surreal juxtaposition in this odd frump-tastic parking lot. Mrs. Finch was the first to break the spell and climb out of the rental car. Paul rushed over to take her arm.
When we walked through the door, we left ordinary behind. Light carpet, soft pink walls, watercolors with subtle, dreamy landscapes, white tablecloths with exotic pastel flower arrangements, hushed our voices into a cinematic experience. There must have been seven forks, multiple knives, and three spoons at each place setting. There were so many different shaped wine glasses, or snifters, or goblets, that I blanked on Paul’s Boss’ name. The damage was permanent.
Paul’s Boss showed up with his people and we were a table of eight. High school kids, pleasant faced, and close lipped, floated by with trays of champagne. Paul’s wife asked in a too-loud-for-the-rarified-air, “Can I have a Mai Tai?” This was strictly a champagne and wine establishment. French wine only.
When Josh and I are in social situations where someone is missing the signals, too loud, too close, too opinionated in the wrong direction for the room, and gleefully ignorant; one of us might look at the other and quietly ask, “Mai Tai?” I’ve never had one, it’s just too good a shorthand to confuse the memory. If your uncle has had one too many, and is expounding in excruciating inappropriateness, feel free to bump my shoulder and say, “Mai Tai?” “Indeed.” Best to just smile and enjoy the moment. I did.
We stood around and drank champagne. I moved around a bit to admire the suits, the tuxes, and the gowns. And to see the faces of the possibly stratospherically wealthy, and important. Other than the perfect fit and up to date styling of their haute couture outfits, they looked like people. Alas, no recognizable stars graced the evening, but Paul’s Boss did give us some celebrity dish. With Josh by my side, he explained the whole no-blue-jeans thing, from the letter he sent us.
Evidently more than one very famous person had been refused entry to the Coolibah, because of their sartorial choices. Some of the refused, felt they were so rich, or important, that the dress code did not apply to them.
One such, was a famous Hollywood It Guy. He was a young male star, known for playing the rebel. His look was wearing blue jeans and he knew they were verboten at the Coolibah. His workaround was to commission from a fine design house, a beautifully cut suit, made entirely of denim. His stretch limo purred up to the Coolibah’s unmarked entry. The actor’s man opened the limo door and took the delicate hand of the star’s effervescent date and assisted her. The star followed her to the door of the Coolibah. Alas, he was denied entrance, due to his insistence on wearing denim. Paul’s Boss thought the years working in France had turned the American chef couple into Francophiles and haters of philistines.
Paul’s Boss squired me over to the sign-in ledger. He pointed out one name, “The CEO of GE,” then another, “The CFO of Dupont,” and “The President of Mexico.” I got into it and pointed out the names of stars I recognized. I didn’t know GE from Mc Donald’s. Paul’s Boss sighed with pleasure over the recognition of one famous industrialist after another. I drifted away. Josh was gazing at one of the pictures, probably a French scene. We grinned at each other. This was the coolest, most over the top place either of us had ever been. It was all the sweeter for having worked so hard to earn it.
The Part Where I Lose My Mind Over Food
The neatly-uniformed high schoolers informed us the chefs were offering a tour of the kitchen. Huh, okay. We shuffled through the single swinging door, from Charles de Gaulle’s granny’s living room into a very clean industrial kitchen. It reminded me of the kitchen at Peace House in IV, my first commune. But with more gleaming appliances for beating wheat into gourmet delights, in the shape of a poodle or something. We shuffled around. There were no pots on the stove top. How could they feed the forty odd people in the dining room if there was no food? Did they hide it in the big industrial fridges? But then the food would get cold.
I reached toward the handle of a very large oven and one of the chefs gave a very French hiss click kind of sound. I knew they meant me. I smoothed my dress. Yeah, that’s what I was doing. But I know where you hid the food now. Was there a door prize? I lengthened my neck, ballet dancer style. Little Miss Elegant fits right in. We were herded back into the gleaming dining room. I forgot to gush about the chandeliers. Every table had one. Full on cut-crystal, blind you with the cleanliness of polish, and gob smack you with the beauty of the lines.
The men held out the chairs for the ladies and we daintily sat in prim comfort on the padded silk cloth seats. They were so rarified in fineness, that if you spilled food on it, they’d have to re-cover it. I wondered if they’d bill the offending party. While noticing the unreal splendor of the room, I couldn’t help but observe that only the whitest of high schoolers got the nod to work the Coolibah. Bummer.
Then I forgot to think, as the entertainment began. Multiple young people stepped forward and with crisp motions, they poured wine into the first wine glass on the left. We sipped. We were told in hushed tones about the wine. It tasted sour with some sort of bite at the swallow. I’d rarely tasted wine. All I can say is I thought it wasn’t as bad as beer. After a couple of polite sips, I left the white liquid to loll in the glass, like a lava lamp turned off.
The first dish came. A clear consommé. There’s nothing in it, but it’s tasty. Then came a melt in your mouth something. I just remember that I had Rack of Lamb, Beef Wellington, some sort of orgasmic souffle and insert-famous-expensive-dishes-you’d-expect-to-eat-at-the-top-of-the-Eiffel-Tower here. The sauces were complex and the flavors challenging to bring context to. The sweet, the salt, the sour. Who knew cooked sour cherries were so mouth-wateringly transcendent?
We were five courses in. I was full. We chatted. Paul’s Boss stood up and did a really special toast where he honored the sales challenge and went on about how he chivvied Paul to keep him abreast of our progress, because Paul’s Boss really wanted to come to the Coolibah again. Happy to oblige, Paul’s Boss. Any time. Well not really. Working thirty days straight ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yet there was this glow inside. Like a banked fire that I knew couldn’t be extinguished. Maybe Sir Edmond Hilary felt this glow when he and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, summited Mt. Everest. Doing this Fuller Brush Challenge was my Mt. Everest.
More wine was poured and the next course appeared in front of us with gentile precision. We had these big underplates and they’d put a plate that was a bit smaller on top of the underplate. Even the sound of the crockery. No, stop, I can’t call it crockery. Maybe it was porcelain. No, they make toilets out of porcelain. Maybe they were made out of bone China. My grandma had a couple pieces of bone China, and if you broke one of those, farting around in the trailer, you were dead to her. I restricted my ball play to outdoors.
Anyways, the dishes were thin, fine and pattern-less. No doubt, so you could admire the beauty and color play of the artful dish that flounced in frozen graceful attitude, like a ballet dancer mid pirouette, almost too beautiful to eat. Yet to shun the taste gift of all this museum-quality beauty, was to tie an anvil to the heart of the chef artist. I ate it. I probably umm-ed. I loved the sound of the silver forks as they clinked with a higher register than stainless steel. The plates themselves were like a musical instrument, each with its own unique note.
The meal lasted three hours. It turns out you can be stuffed to the gunnels, drink some wine, share some funny stories about kooky things Fuller Brush customer do with their products, then eat some more and not feel bad. Oh, to go back with a cell phone and take pictures of that meal. Yet, without cellphones, we were undistracted from the ebb and flow of talk. Sometimes the table listened to one story, and sometimes I’d talk to Josh on one side, or Paul on the other. My heart was so full to just sit between them. We don’t even have a picture of our group. But I see them in my memory. Except for Paul’s Boss and his three.
The dessert had us closing our eyes to focus our attention on the sensual pleasure of taste. I like to isolate senses, give more attention to bird song, or a warm breeze, or the salt air, get lost in the hallways of a song, or the taste of a perfect bread, with a little dab of butter. Or maybe a big dab. I really like butter.
We chatted, sated and mellow, sipping wine. Strangely the wine was growing on me. Then the dogs came in. Two big black dogs. Newfoundlands, maybe? Paul’s Boss told us that was the signal that we needed to go. We left.
My senses had been alerted to the existence of a next level of taste experience. I would seek flavor, tang, and musty undertone, in my future gustatory adventures. I would seek mouth feel, like the joy of souffle on the tongue, the chew of a fine sourdough crust, and the gnaw and slurp of the marrow in an Osso Bucco. Yeah, the vegetarian thing didn’t last. That night at the Coolibah was an entrée into an exotic place. In my Museum of the Mind, in the awesome-moments exhibit, the Coolibah gets its own room.