“It would seem to be an unintentional knack of mine to encounter and experience strange things. In the respect of stranger things, in the defense of strange things, it must be equally strange for them when they encounter and experience me.”- Chainsaw

Over the years I’ve had quite a few interactions with cults and accidentally joined a few (these things just happen sometimes). Also had a run-in with the occult, brought to you by the letters O and s*** and the number 666. A variety of monsters and a giant bird fill out their registry; can you tell me how to get- how to get the hell out of here? Yes cults on any age level can be scary, but I never suspected there was one right under my own roof. Awareness arrived post-valentines, discovered due to a variation on a theme.

This year Valentines would be different, there would be no flowers. A gentleman gives flowers to a lady as a way of saying, “I searched for something as visually beautiful and fragrantly appealing as you, and though they pale in comparison, this is as close as I can come.” Aww! You also get flowers at your funeral… so what is that saying to ya?

Flowers are depressing. In order to be given, they must be murdered. Then maintained on a life support system of water and whatever the hell is in those little packets the florist gives you. Slowly dying, they are put on display, inevitably falling to rot and despair. Heads drooping, leaves browning and petals falling; a visual aid that beauty is only a temporary façade … yeah… Happy Valentine’s Day.

So rather than suffer all that dreadful decay, Mrs. Chainsaw got a stuffed baby sloth from Hallmark instead. The stuffie kind, not an actual stuffed dead baby sloth (I don’t think Hallmark offers those).

Often suspected but never witnessed, John Q., my stuffed, yellow bear side-kick (and House o’Saw stuffie in chief) likes to meet and greet all new stuffies. He didn’t know I had come home early and was watching the induction ritual from the shadows.

With his pointy finger stick in hand…paw… nubby thing and entourage of the 70’s Cookie Monster and blue Grateful Dead Bear, he climbed onto the kitchen table. He gently poked at the little sloth guy who turned to look at John slooowwwwy. “Hewo new fwiend,” John Q. said with a warm smile, “welcome to you’wre new home, this is a happy pwace.” This accompanied with a group hug. “Would you wike to join our cult?” The sloth nodded. Oh how nice. A friendly welcome complete with smiles, hugs and… AN INVITATION TO JOIN A CULT??? Best to continue my lurking and observe.

“Yay, wet’s go do cult stuff!” John said. With this they made their way to the garage. John fired up the record player blasting out Karma Chameleon by the Cult-ure Club (at 72 rpm of course). “C’mon,” John said, jumping down and taking the sloths paws, “wet’s do ouwr cult dance.” Hmmm they seem to just be hopping around, nothing malicious here. Of course one can be certain that in the early stages Jim Jones didn’t have that Kool-Aid cocktail in mind.

As the record spun to an end, John rallied the troops and said, “Now wet’s have some cult dwinks to twoast our new fwiend!” OMG! … The irony! I do not want a kitchen full of stuffed animal corpses. This must be stopped before… oh they’re just having some Sunny D. Glad they didn’t try my purple stuff. They left the kitchen in a mess. Which I’d gladly clean up, relieved that I wouldn’t have to tell the wife that her stuffed sloth was a cult casualty… my life is so weird.

Afternoon progressed towards evening with more “cult” activities. They watched a cult-classic, took a nap, which the sloth didn’t find too diffi-cult, they cult-ivated their giggling while doing origami skills (nice swan there) and then… it was time for the cult initiation ritual! Here we go. I readied myself to step in and stop them from… squealing and jumping off the bed into a pile of folded clothes? Which explains my wrinkled shirts and underwear… you iron and fold what you like­—don’t judge. The “cult” activities then concluded with hugs, paw bumps, high-fives and “We’ll see you tomorrows!” They all returned to their respective places.

Later a confession to John was made that I’d seen the whole thing and was concerned about his “cult,” inquiring as to if he knew what that meant.

He gave me a look that showed, despite his childish demeanor, he trumped me in years and experience.

“The term cult has come to usually refer to a social group defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs,” he spoke with unfamiliar articulation, “It’s defined as a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure, theme or object.”

Cocking a brow he continued, “Humans have taken the word at its leisure making something evil and bad of it, as they do most things. You forget that the intention of any group or cult is based on what they believe and they can follow anything they choose. We have chosen to believe in happiness and put our faith in friendship. It’s up to the membership and what they follow that makes it bad… it’s not the cult, it’s the content.”

As he climbed the shelves up to his bookcase penthouse, I had to ask him one last question… can I join?

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or email me at [email protected] .

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!