Worst party

It's the dawn of the 90s and I'm a fresh face at uni. I meet an overseas student called Edmund. He's in one of my English tutorial groups, seems pretty friendly. When he invites me to a party on a Friday night at something called the Celtic Club in the city centre, I say yes. My first uni bash! I'm stoked because I've heard university parties really go off, and I'm ready to get amongst it!

Party!

Friday night comes around. Woohoo! I get on the bus and go to the city. I find the Celtic Club - I'm ready to rock, baby!

But wait... how come there's no bouncer at the door? That's weird. There's a decent crowd inside, so surely that's a good sign? Everyone's playing limbo, though, which seems a little bit strange. And there's not a drop of booze in sight. I'm a little bit wary. I mean, it's Australia... and we've got Australian uni undergrads... at a dry Irish club? Playing limbo. Yeah, really doesn't add up. I start asking myself dumb questions, like 'Have I somehow arrived in a parallel universe?' and 'Was the bus really a time machine?' But I choose not to think about it too much, and just go with the flow and crack open a can of Fanta.

Edmund finds me and introduces me to some people. Everyone is very friendly. Actually they're little bit too friendly. You might even say they're suspiciously friendly. In fact, these folks are lovebombing me so much I'm not sure if I should be flattered or creeped out. I decide the feelings aren't mutually exclusive. One guy in particular is a very close talker and I'm starting to wonder if he isn't trying to pick me up. Thankfully he doesn't make a move. After some very awkward hours the party ends and I go home.

Church?

A week or so later, I see Edmund at uni again. He asks if I want to meet some people later that night. I'd rather eat my own vomit, but I say OK because I don't want to seem rude. He takes me to what turns out to be a church service, only it's in a building on campus instead of in a proper church. There's a sermon, though, complete with people jumping around and yelling stuff like “Amen! Preach it, brother!” and “Bring it home! Bring it home, brother!” Everyone's singing their hearts out and swaying around. I can’t sing for shit and I despise OTT religious stuff; I find it all very repulsive. But like they did at the party, people are lavishing me with attention. It's weird. And I'm invited to a rugby training session...

Sport?

I show up to rugby training. Everyone praises my skills and physique. It rings hollow because I'm not fit or co-ordinated.

Party!

Another week or two later, Edmund invites me to another party. I really don't want to go, but for some reason I accept. Why can't I seem to say no to people?

The party is in a flat in the suburbs, and again there's no alcohol. I had predicted this, which is why I rock up bearing a six-pack of Coke. What I hadn’t predicted is that the high point of the party would be participating in a Bible reading. It's only my second university party and I'm already beginning to think the whole scene's a bit overrated. Why can't it be like in the movies where everyone's drinking out of red cups and all the girls are topless? I think I'd rather go to that sort of party...

Anyway, the Bible reading. I was asked to read a passage and answer some questions about it. I gave it a red-hot go, but I find religious texts utterly incomprehensible. They don't speak to me or move me in any way. I just couldn't give a toss about them, and I find it difficult to pretend otherwise.

The shindig drags on. Someone's going around collecting money, and partygoers are forking out serious amounts of cash. I don't know what it's all about. At least I'm not expected to contribute, and being of mixed Scotch/Dutch parentage, I'm not exactly reaching for my wallet anyway. As I'm pondering the phenomenon, the close-talking guy from the first party corners me and sings me a love song. He says composed it himself, and I believe him. It's genuinely awful. I worry that I might be the target audience, so when he says it's for his girlfriend I feel very, very relieved. And then the guy casually mentions that he's planning to serenade her, after which he'll ask her to marry him. Knowing what she's about to endure, I start worrying for her. But then he adds something about needing the permission of the church elders first. I'm wondering if I'm mistaken or did I really just hear this dude use the words "church elders" in a sentence? What the fuck? I mean, "church" and "elders" are scary enough individually, but as a phrase they’re nothing short of terrifying. And he needs the permission of these church elders to marry?

Fuuuuuuck.

And in that moment, despite the myriad clues I've been given so far, the penny finally drops...


Religious Nutbaggery 101 - Final Exam

Part A


Question 1

What are some dead giveaways you're becoming entangled with a weirdo religious cult? (Highlight the correct answer/s):


a) parties featuring readings of religious texts

b) parties featuring tithing

c) parties featuring no booze

d) lovebombers

e) boisterous religious services

f) the presence of controlling church elders

g) people playing limbo

h) all of the above ✔


So I took stock of my situation. I asked myself if I wanted to get tangled up with batshit insane cultists or not. Funnily enough, the answer was no. The answer should always be no - fuck, no!

I avoided Edmund until eventually he got the hint that maybe I didn't want to be friends with him anymore.

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