Of JWs, Funny Posts, and Sad Memories
Of course, being the irrational person that I am, the JW post brought back some bittersweet memories about a good friend that I lost.
I started posting on the Internet five years ago. It was on one of the Slate forums; I started reading and posting regularly because I thought it would help me get over a guy (the already-mentioned-before Mr. Crush). Gradually, I became friends with several people on the forum, and we moved our conversations into the email format. Those were good days. I’m thinking about one of those friends in particular right now. He was a guy about my age, single, professional. I liked trading emails with him. He was a lot of fun. We had a lot in common. And, when I needed advice and sympathy (like, after yet another argument with Mr. Crush), I could always talk to him. He understood me perfectly.
Then my friend got laid off from his job, but that was 2001 and all of my friends had been through at least one layoff by then. It didn’t faze me. I expected him to bounce right back, like the rest of my friends did. Problem is, he didn’t. He stayed unemployed forever, then got a temp job, then the contract on the temp job ran out. He wasn’t doing so well. I hardly heard from him anymore.
Then, two years ago, he suddenly started writing again. At that time, I was going through major problems with I12, and mentioned it to my friend. In return, he asked for my snail mail address. He said he was going to mail a book to me that had been of great help to him when he was a teenager. I asked how much I owed him for the book, and he said nothing, it was a gift from him. I felt so grateful.
Two weeks later, the book arrived. Two copies of the same book, actually. It was called “Questions Young People Ask and Answers That Work”. The book was originally printed in 1985, and had these awesome pictures of teenaged kids dressed in the 80’s fashions. Talk about “Back To the Future”!
I started reading, and soon realized something wasn’t right. I was getting these weird vibes from the book. Like, it said to listen to the adults, which is cool, but it said to listen to the adults way too much. Then I got to the chapter on education, and was even more puzzled. On six pages, the book explained how a college education is pointless, overpriced, and spiritually dangerous – not exactly the kind of message I wanted I12 to get! And my personal favorite – two chapters on overcoming the vice of masturbation, complete with a success story of “a 27-year-old man who had struggled with the habit since he was 11” and “was finally able to gain the victory” (I sure hope no body parts were cut off in the process).
Finally, the last chapter, “How Can I Get Closer to God?”, outlined in detail what one needed to do to become a… you guessed it, Jehovah’s Witness. I recalled that at one time, my friend had indeed mentioned that he had been raised JW. I have to confess to you that I was in a state of shock. Not that I hadn’t been handed booklets before, I just couldn’t get over the facts that this one came from my good friend, and that he intended me to give it to my son. That just crushed me. I felt betrayed. In retrospect, I probably overreacted.
Another confession I have to make is that I posted excerpts from the book (mainly from the chapters on masturbation) on my Russian forum, and the people there just about died laughing reading those. I gave the second copy of the book to a forum buddy of mine, because she thought it was hysterical, and wanted to have it.
I had to email my friend to say thank you and tell him how I liked the book, so I did. I tried to be as polite as possible without straight out lying. He got the message. We didn’t email much after that. Eventually, he changed jobs and moved to a different town. I got a few emails from him, and sent him a few, but after a while he stopped answering. Besides, I never knew when to email him anymore. You cannot say Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas to a Jehovah’s Witness, so I was all out of excuses to write. Eventually, we lost touch completely. This makes me sad. He’s a good guy and I miss him.
Matt, if you’re reading this, you are welcome on my doorstep anytime. Bring all the booklets you want, come on in, I’ll treat you to a hearty Russian dinner (or lunch, depending on the time of your visit), introduce you to my family, and we’ll all have a blast witnessing to each other.
I’m gonna go fetch a new Kleenex box now. Enjoy your weekend, all.