Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There’s a Cult for Everyone

By Tracy Kiely

My protagonist, Elizabeth Parker, is a young woman with a penchant for Jane Austen, all things English, sarcasm, and rash behavior. Not only that, but she has a face that prompts most family and friends to advise her to avoid playing poker. Ever. Therefore, the idea of her infiltrating a cult gives me pause. (Actually, it makes me laugh out loud in that horrible snorting manner that I’ve been trying to curtail, but I thought the whole “gives me pause” bit sounded better.)

Anyway, that said, there are only a few cults I could see Elizabeth infiltrating with any kind of believability. They are as follows:

· The Cult of Jane Austen – Originated in 1915, by Miss Emily Jacobs of Devonshire, England, this cult not only promotes the constant reading of Jane Austen’s works, but its members are required to insert portions of Ms. Austen’s dialog into their daily conversations. Members are also required to be able to recite both Captain Wentworth’s letter to Ann on command, as well as both of Mr. Darcy’s proposals to Elizabeth. Failure to do so results in immediate punishment, which varies from public rebuke all the way to the dreaded ‘Lydia Treatment’ wherein the member is tricked into thinking they are going to a Scottish retreat, but instead are sent to a dodgy part of London and forced to entertain a drunk man. Members meet once a month at a hidden location, where they dress in Indian muslin, drink tea, eat marzipan, and engage in snarky batter. The precise number of members is unknown, but it is thought to be in the millions.

· The Cult of Colin Firth – Founded in 1996 by Ms. Edwina Jennings of Trenton, New Jersey, the Cult of Colin Firth was created for one simple purpose; the tracking and monitoring of Colin Firth. Members are required to be able to recite every movie Mr. Firth has been in (in chronological order), recite most of the dialog from these movies, and know his current location within a tenth of a mile. The ultimate goal, of course, is to find him again emerging from a lake wearing a thin white shirt. Members are punished by being forced to watch continuous showings of two of Mr. Firth’s regrettable cinematic forays, What a Girl Wants and Mama Mia!, for days at a time.

· The Cult of Wanting to be English - Founded in 1932 by Ms. Jenna Marshal, the cult’s philosophy is very simple; the life of the upper class English, as depicted in the movies and books of the day, is preferable to reality. Members learn to speak in the upper class manner that suggests they are being slowly strangled. Muttering is also encouraged. Members must learn to ride (or at least be able to discuss riding at length) and must be able to not only play and understand cricket, but become irate if their access to the latest scores is in anyway thwarted. Female members must wear enormous, structurally unsound contraptions on their heads to every social function, and men must own at least three tweed jackets, eight scarves, and one bloodhound named “Duke”. All members must smoke. Members are punished for any infraction by being sent to Las Vegas for a month, and while there are forced to watch A Tribute to Manilow nightly. Its membership numbers are in the millions – with a particular spike occurring after most Superbowl halftime shows.

These are the cults that Elizabeth could penetrate, if needed. They are not well known, but they are not to be trifled with. Should the occasion arise for Elizabeth to infiltrate and right a wrong inflicted by any – or all – of these cults, you can rest easy, and know that she has the talent and ability to get the job done.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Considering the penalties and punishments of these cults, these folks should have been interrogating captured terrorists after 9/11. I am truly frightened by these seemingly genteel organizations. But isn't that always the way, it's always the "nice" ones that harbor darkness.

TracyK said...

Well said, Sue Ann. My grandmother used to laughingly warn us against the ultra pious folks who sat in the front row at church and knew all the lyrics by heart. As as kid, I thought she was kidding. Now, I'm not so sure...:)

Reece said...

Thanks for making me aware of the Cult of Colin Firth, Tracy. I have a sneaking suspicion that my wife might be a member. I'm not sure I'm ready to try to "Mama Mia!" cure, though. That might be a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

TracyK said...

It is a difficult punishment to endure, I agree. However, if you are unsure of your wife's membership, I suggest trying the following: Casually mention that the BBC is re-releasing Pride and Prejudice, with an extended "Darcy in the lake" scene, as well as extensive and previously unseen interviews with Colin Firth. If she runs for the computer to order, knocking over no less than six chairs in the process, you've got a cult member on your hands.

Meredith Cole said...

Too funny, Tracy! I'd love to go on the Jane Austen retreat, so that just shows how crazy I am.

Love the British cult, too. My dad happens to English, and he's definitely not a member (although he does actually understand cricket which makes him anti-baseball for some reason. I guess you can't like both?)

TracyK said...

Meredith - I secretly want to join these cults as well, but haven't been able to pass the cricket entrance exam. Perhaps your dad might be interested in teaching a class for English wannabes?

Kelli Stanley said...

OMG, Tracy! You had me guffawing (in a distinctly un-British manner) over the "Lydia Treatment"! Love the cults, and I think the punishments suit the crimes! ;)

Anonymous said...

I see I am busted as a would-be cult member. Nearly died laughing here. You reminded me I owe another Colin Firth picture to the Colin Firth member who sent me my copy of "Valmont."

Oh, dear, though, we don't smoke and I heard that bloodhounds suffer in the heat of our state so we don't have him yet except the one I have in an upcoming novel.


Rebecca Cantrell said...

I watch a lot of Top Gear. Does that mean I could join the Cult of Wanting to be English? But I have cats and almost never wear hats and don't understand cricket. Oh, bother!

Loved the post, Tracy! Very funny, as always!