Sophomore year, Sara and Cazey came into possession of a super cheap bus ticket to Washington, D.C. Unlike everyone else on the bus, we did not plan a single event for the entire day. After all, our motto at this point in our lives was, "We did it for the story." (We might still live this way, but who's judging?)
Everyone else had plans to visit the National Fill-in-the-Blank Museum and had packed metro maps and stored taxi cab numbers. We showed up on the National Mall with not even Smartphones. (This was 2011, after all.) We had some sort of game plan - Cazey wanted to see the National Cathedral because it looked like Hogwarts. Sara wanted to spend a day not on campus. And mutually, we didn't want to spend more than a few dimes. We had alcohol to illegally buy that night.
The journey began by heading to Chinatown. No idea why, because that is not the way to the Cathedral. Anyhow, we walked there, which would soon become a common theme of the day. On the way we stopped at a sculpture garden, a portrait gallery, and some building owned by the Smithsonian featuring the October 24, 1969 Time magazine cover: "Should We Pull Out?" This soon became the title of the consequent Facebook album, which we are reminiscing over as we write this. (In reality, Time was asking about the Soviet Union. #ThrowbackThursday, eh, Putin?)
Eventually we realized we needed to cut to the chase, so we hiked toward the Cathedral. We asked a DC resident on the way how to get there, and she told us to hail a cab. We trekked onward - without that cab.
On the way we stopped for lunch. At this point we were in the DuPont Circle area if you're familiar with our nation's capital or have watched National Treasure. We ate outside where Cazey spied two things: A walking stick and the Church of Scientology. Well, he picked up that stick and led us straight to the doors. However - and this is when fate tried to intervene - the church was under construction; they had relocated a few blocks away.
So this is when we turn around, right?
Cazey asked for directions. And on we went.
A receptionist greeted us and asked to sign in. Everyone gave fake names except for Cazey (which is ironic, as he writes under a nom de plume). They asked if we came for any specific reason. Yeah, a star brought us, and we need to convert. Nah, lady, we're just in the area.
She told us to look around, absorb the Kool Aid fumes, and tell her if we had any questions. Now the setup of the room was important for dramatic tension. Seven ceiling-high panels presented on multiple Scientology topics. There was a walkway on both sides of the panels. We quickly realized, despite their height, the panels contained no actual information on Scientology. We really just wanted to know what the heck is it?
Lucky for us, an attendant materialized and asked if we would like to watch a five-minute film. Well, if it would enlighten us. Into the theater we went. The door shut. And why the hell is the room soundproof?
After about ten minutes of the video, the panic started. (And we still don't know a damn thing about Scientology.) We decided we should probably get out of Dodge.
Now, please remember, when we went into this room, there were only two other people around: The receptionist and attendant. Upon opening the door, we found ourselves surrounded by about fifteen people - all in black. Cazey hesitated. Sara ran. Outside. As in, she left Cazey behind. Every man for himself . . . .
Thankfully, Cazey didn't wait around for nothing. Like a Happy Meal, he got a to-go toy: Several copies of a DVD on Scientology and Dianetics. You'd think they would've given him a BluRay, too.
Outside, Sara was not in sight, and two men in black stood guard on the lawn. Uhhh. Commence sprinting. For about three blocks. Whew, that winded us.
Ultimately, we loaded on the bus for the way home. The trip organizer asked everyone where they had gone that day. Everyone else mentioned the Holocaust Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Zoo, etc.
Us: "The Church of Scientology."
We could only meet their confused expressions with one explanation: "We did it for the story."