A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION
Verily, in the all-wise and unknowable providence of God, who moveth in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, have I never heard the fellow to this question for confusion of the mind and congestion of the ducts of thought.
It wasn’t long after my trip with Otto that I got a room of my own: Rudy and Jackie’s.
During one of Bill’s telephone conversations with Tim on the Coast, Tim had surprised Bill and everyone else by announcing that he wanted to return. Since he had made a deal with the Dutchess County authorities to leave, and never to darken their doorsteps again, if all the charges stemming from Liddy’s raid, the one that had cost Rosemary thirty days in jail for refusal to testify, were dropped, his decision was greeted with mixed emotions in the Big House. Leaving aside his inspirational and entertainment value, Tim’s lecture fees would come in handy for paying fuel bills and such, but on the other hand, it seemed likely that the ruling rodents of the Place of Overflowing Shitholes would lust for his blood and we all might suffer as a result.
In any event, Tim wanted Rudy and Jackie out of the house before he entered it. Their presence, he said, was obnoxious to him. Rudy and Jackie maintained that Bill had accepted them into the Ashram and therefore it didn’t matter what Tim said. Bill maintained a brooding silence on the subject. Bob Ross was infuriated. The house seethed with accusations, rumors and intrigue.
Ross called a house meeting, and everyone gathered in the music room after dinner, including Rudy and Jackie. After two or three people had made the usual pretty speeches to say that they would not take sides because karma would take care of everything, someone accused Rudy of having a private stash of marijuana in the woods. This person had followed Rudy and observed him digging around the base of a rock. It was then revealed that this person, I think it was Tambimutto, had been followed by Otto, who had hoped Tambi was looking for a stashed bottle of booze. This revelation was greeted with hilarity, but Ross interrupted and launched on a general exposition of his view of the situation.
He, Ross, took what was happening in the house seriously even if some people were only there for a place to flop. He had a private income and could live anywhere he pleased. Rudy and Jackie, as far as he was concerned, were “viruses” that had entered his home. He didn’t see why he shouldn’t eliminate viruses from his sinus cavity.
At the conclusion of this tirade, during which Ross became extremely agitated and looked like he was about to hemorrhage internally, Rudy defended himself and Jackie by saying he had no idea why Tim “hated” them. They had done nothing against him. Anyway, they considered themselves members of the Ashram. If Bill said they had to go they would, but not under any other circumstances.
None of this struck me as constructive, so I spoke up. Was this meeting supposed to be a trial? If so, who were the judges, what were the accusations, and what were the rules of procedure and evidence? More basic even than that, were we an organized group? If so, where was our constitution, or bylaws, or whatever? As far as I knew, the Hitchcocks owned the place and had put Tim in charge of it. If someone who had invited you into his house decided he didn’t want you there, then you left. I had nothing against Rudy and Jackie, but it didn’t seem to me Tim’s reasons for not wanting them there were any of my business. If, when Tim returned, he asked me to leave, which was a possibility, I would go. I wouldn’t hang around and argue about it.
My comments were received in dead silence, but they broke up the meeting, which, in my experience, is what usually happens at such affairs if you tell the truth instead of allowing vague fantasies to prevail. Not even Tim’s greatest admirers, such as Ross, wanted to admit they were there on his sufferance, but if they weren’t, what were the rules?
Nobody could answer that question. I have been to many meetings, straight and head, and they all seem to proceed along the same lines unless everything important is defined ahead of time. Few people ever follow an argument to its logical conclusions, either in public or in private. Their “arguments” therefore, ought to be taken as mere expressions of feeling like “ouch” or “yum yum” rather than as attempts to define or reason. Professional politicians take this for granted and do not make everyone uncomfortable by treating what they say as if they really meant it. “Feelings rule mankind,” Disraeli said. Right.
As absolute ruler of a doctrinaire and monarchical Church, I now define the terms at every meeting over which I preside. I find that this privilege, along with the freedom to excommunicate heretical and unruly persons, greatly relieves the burdens of office.