After allowing for time zone changes and jet lag, I had one day spare to see the sights before the NLP training began. As there was a choice of theme parks to attend and a lot of shopping malls to see, I was up early that day. By 7am, I am experiencing my first 'all you can eat' breakfast for less than 4 dollars. Needless to say, I made sure I got my money's worth, read the paper, drank a bladder full of tea and after taking tourist advice from the helpful restaurant staff I headed off in search of a bus to go into town.
By 10am I was in the theme park and by 10.30am, I realised that I don't actually like theme parks. There's something about the insincerity of the places that make me feel a little bit depressed. I guess I prefer nature, beaches and countryside. I just don't enjoy mingling with men dressed up as cartoon characters and seeing dolphins imprisoned in swimming pools.
I stopped at one of the many restaurants and had a jumbo bowl of ice-cream and mug of steaming tea whilst collecting my thoughts. It was during the ice-cream headache that I formulated the plan of foregoing any attempt at 'getting my money's worth' to have a go on the frighteningly large roller coaster and then leave the park and head back into town for the shopping malls.
Now, I got lucky. As there wasn't a queue for the roller coaster, I could jump straight on board. I didn't really think about it, I just jumped in the first seat available in front of me and quickly realised my mistake. In my excitement, I had ignored the etiquette of leaving an empty seat gap between myself and the next person. After all, about half the seats were empty. This etiquette failure wasn't missed by the 17-year-old blonde girl beside whom I had just sat, who in turn was sat next to her mum. They both looked at me and then looked at each other. Their expressions said it all.
I suddenly looked and felt like the man who is in a theme park on his own, who has just got onto a half-empty ride and who has just sat too close to the underage pretty blonde girl. In the few seconds that this awful realisation and psychic exchange was occurring and before I could get up and move seats, the safety bar was lowered, thus trapping me inside this socially embarrassing situation.
But it got worse.
The only way to hold on was to have my arms up and out in front of me on the safety bar. The width of which meant than in order to hold on, my arm made an unnecessary level of contact with the girl's arm. And of course, being hot and sunny, we were both short sleeved. I tried to escape this, as did she, but unfortunately, the only other place to rest my arms would be to have them down by my side, which would mean my hand would rest between my thighs and her thighs. Naturally, it was only by attempting this that I found this out.
I had visions of how the press release would go after my arrest.
This wasn't at all good.
And it got worse.
Now, with this teenage girl clearly feeling very uncomfortable with my continued presence and an inescapable level of skin-to-skin contact, her mother attempted to call over the attendant to raise the barriers so that they could move to some other seats. But no-one heard her and the bastard ride started to move.
Continuing to feel very awkward indeed and unable to escape, the roller coaster climbed higher and higher and higher and higher and higher until I was worried that I was actually going to faint. Then, just when I could panic no more, it rocketed vertically downwards with a horrifying level of acceleration. A thought briefly flashed across my brain that this must be the sensation that one gets just before a plane crashes from a very high altitude, and I am sure I lost consciousness somewhere for a moment. I'd been grappling around in my panic and realised that I was now holding the blonde girl's safety bar and not my own. I could feel her glaring at me as we corkscrewed around the loop the loop thing and I struggled not to be sick.
But it was to get worse. Much, much worse.
About 30 seconds after it had started, the ride was finally over and the safety bars were released. Mother and daughter quickly left the ride as I struggled to regain control of my limbs and found to my amazement that I could actually breathe again. Then, in attempting to control my exit from the coaster, I managed to thrust myself out onto the platform, stumble forward like a drunkard and go crashing into both mother and daughter who were squatting down whilst putting their shoes back on.
The only thing for which I am thankful is that I had peace of mind not to try to grab either of them to try and save myself falling. Instead, I crashed to the ground whilst mother, daughter and the ride attendants deliberated whether or not to call the paramedics or to call the police.
I didn't wait around to hear the sirens and clumsily fled the scene of this social crime. I escaped back to the hotel to regain my dignity, change my clothes and put on a wig before heading to the mall for some serious shopping.
I'd never been to America before and this was turning out to be one heck of an introduction.
There are of course other perils with attending a training that is a sizable distance away from home. For example, problems can arise from the choice of accommodation. One such problem was experienced by Trevor ' a hefty 6 foot, 6 inch tall Safety Officer from Scarborough. Looking rather haggard from jet-lag on the first day of the training, Trevor explained the problems of staying in a cheap motel. Keen to avoid the rather high bedroom fees of the hotel in which the training was held, Trevor opted instead to save a fortune and book into what became quickly known 'The Bates Motel' across the road. It was a decision he quickly began to regret. Not only were the beds too short, but the 'bed end' meant that stretching out was totally impossible.
Of course, this was only the start of Trevor's regrets. For you see, being a cheap motel in an expensive part of town, the Bates' Motel was inevitably a major draw to students looking for cheap accommodation during their Spring Break. And of course, the student Spring Break coincided perfectly with the duration of the training.
So, lying diagonally each night in a hapless attempt at comfort, Trevor was forced to endure the hormonal antics of drunken teenagers and student sex each and every night for the duration of his stay. The evidence of such activity was invariably found slithering around on the shared bathroom's floor each and every morning.
Of course, all this torment proved very amusing to the other course attendees who would have to nudge Trevor awake at the end of each group hypnosis session lest his snoring give the trainers completely the wrong impression.
It was only when Trevor developed a rather sinister skin rash that everyone started staying away.
Rather than seeing it as a worrying problem, it was this rash that one attendee from Birmingham began to wonder might solve his own particular problems arising from being on the course.
'Do you think I am overly attractive?' asked Derek in a concerned tone of voice.
'What?' I asked, not quite sure where this was going.
'No. No. Not like that. I mean, to men, do you think I am attractive to men?'
And I must say, I was even more concerned for a moment. After all, I had just returned from the coffee shop with Janet, Derek's wife, who was standing right beside me. Now, I've been on courses before where on the last evening attendees gather in the bar and rapidly turn it into some strange kind of immoral fuckfest, but this seemed too early on in the course. We were only on day two out of six. So, just where on earth was Derek leading with this line of questioning'? I was worried.
'Derek, what are you on about?' I asked as I quickly hid behind Janet.
'Well, see him over there,' he said pointing at a ginger haired guy. 'I think he might fancy me or something.'
I had to look again. After all, the guy being pointed at is considered to be quite a 'name' in the field.
'What on earth makes you think that?' I asked.
And so Derek told me. Apparently, the previous day Ginger had told him that he thought Derek was 'hot' and winked knowingly. As a rampant heterosexual, poor Derek was a little confused by this and wondered just what Ginger had meant.
'Let me take you in there and show you,' Ginger had apparently replied with another wink whilst gesturing to the toilets.
'And what did you say to him?' I asked as Derek was turning quite red with embarrassment at telling the story.
'I didn't know what to say,' said Derek.
'So, you didn't say, 'no', then?' I asked much to the amusement of the rapidly assembling audience who had migrated away from Trevor's infection update to hear about a possible NLP sex scandal.
So, we'll return to the blooming relationship between Derek and Ginger in a bit.
Meanwhile, NLP courses tend to attract some fairly common stereotypes. The most evident are what have become known as the 'NLP Wankers' ' these are the course junkies and groupies who wander around smugly intimidating everyone with how fantastic they feel and like to show off how confident they are. Visual cues are often there too. The guys invariably have a little ponytail and tend to mimic their favourite trainers' mannerisms and dress style, and the girls tend to have to project their voice at all times, stand like a man and invariably stand too close.
Their conversation skills are fairly limited to discussion such as, 'Who did you train with?' and 'How did you get into NLP?' and so forth. They do of course always refer to their celebrity trainers on first name terms and always have a story to tell about their amazing experience to anyone who will stand and listen. Any deviation from the theme tends to confuse them a bit, something that often sends them running over to their next victim.
The other category that is common are the 'Wannabe NLP Wankers' ' this is the second most dangerous category of all. These are the 'Groupies In Training' who are still at that ridiculous meta-model phase and think it hilarious to challenge everything with a ''specifically?' question. I hate these idiots and wish for them all to be neutered. The reason for this is that they tend to want to 'do' NLP on everyone ' they wander around commanding everyone with exceptionally unsubtle language patterns and keep poking and prodding everyone under the guise of 'anchoring.'
Shoot them. Shoot them all.
Often on the big courses, it isn't unusual to find a reasonable number of people with mild to significant emotional and/or behavioural problems. This is to be expected of course, because seminars focussing on NLP and hypnosis tend carry a significant leaning towards personal development, and so those in need of personal development attend. Of this attendee group, the majority will have self insight and so tend not to present any of their problems to other people outside of any appropriate context.
So, this is the category of normal people. They are there for all the right reasons, with social skills variable, dress codes mixed and they tend not to go around inflicting their NLPness upon everyone else.
So, all well and good so far.
However, on every single NLP orientated course that I have ever attended there is always at least one member of the most sinister category of all. And that category is the 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Serious Problems.'
A brief outline of a 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Problems' is as follows:
Usually a social inept male who utterly fails to respond to social feedback. In order to overcome his social limitations, rather than change his own behaviours he seeks to change and control the behaviours of other people. Often a devotee of NLP orientated seduction material he suffers raging hormones that render him highly sexed with nowhere to discharge and he stalks his way around NLP workshops.
And stalking is the right word here. For on this particular course, our 'Level 2 Wannabe NLP Wanker with Problems' was a 54-year-old Londoner called Wain.
From the first day other seminar participants started referring to him as 'Wain the Wanker' which rapidly became shortened to the somewhat inevitable, 'Wainker.'
I'd met Wainker briefly the day before the seminar shortly after my embarrassing day out at the theme park. He shook my hand and introduced himself. He didn't let go very quickly and when he did, his hand slithered away from mine. Afterwards my hand felt emotionally sticky as if he left some etheric pervert glue on me that could only be properly removed with a brillo pad, bleach and a decent Catholic priest.
From the very first day, Wainker was spreading his pervert glue around the large number of Japanese women who had flown in for the training. Coated in cheap aftershave, Wainker moved quickly like a sex offender whispering creepy NLP language patterns into uncomprehending Japanese ears as a vain excuse to maul any accessible opart of their body. On the first day, the women retained their Japanese demeanour, polite mannerisms and Kimonos. By day 2, they were wearing running shoes.
By day three, Wainker had focussed his attentions to me. Every corner I turned, he was there. If I stood still, he was there, mauling me and trying to get me to 'try not to feel amazing now', 'remember when you felt really good, with burning desire'.' I began to get loaded down by the pervert glue.
Now, this isn't common. At 6ft 2, such people rarely try to bother me. On the odd occasion when they do, I invariably invoke the three-stage escalation rule.
Response 1. 'Get the fuck off me, now!' No ambiguity there, so if this is unheeded, move to response 2.
Response 2. Use sudden and unexpected physical force to establish at least an arm's length distance between myself and the aggressor. This is paired with a loud retort of, 'Get off me, now!' If this still goes unheeded and the aggressor has still not understood or continues to present a threat, move to response 3.
Response 3. Escape the scenario immediately, or if circumstances dictate that this is not possible, immediately reduce the threat posed with a pre-emptive strike within the parameters of the law.
On my first encounter with Wainker the day before the workshop, I politely but forcefully got away from him the moment he let go of my hand. My second encounter with him led to me to aggressively push him away and telling him to get away from me. Sensing danger, he retreated quickly.
But after that, he kept sneaking up on me.
When we broke for group work, he was always there. I'd be pouring tea at the tea stand, and he'd be there. I went out for a meal across town with a girlfriend, and he was there on the next table. One lunchtime I popped into town to buy a pair of shoes, and he was there in the shoe shop. Every bar I went to, every restaurant, every toilet. Like a sick shadow, Wainker was everywhere, trying to whisper NLP bullshit into my ear in some freakish attempt to make me want to let him bugger me.
It culminated towards the end of the week in a bar that he happened to appear in. Yes, there were over one hundred bars in town, and Wainker had managed to find the one bar that had me in it.
'Come here!' He demanded as he wondered over to my table. He stopped and stood about 15 feet away.
'Fuck off! Just'fuck'right'off!!' I shouted as aggressively as I could and with a little higher pitch than intended. Other people turned round and looked.
Needless to say, he didn't fuck off. Instead, he came over and grabbed my arm as he leaned over to my ear and started to breathe, 'Now, feeling that warm feeling inside...''
So, I whacked the freak. I picked up the chair and hit him again and again, breaking the chair into pieces as I did so. All my fury and frustration that had built up inside me came pouring out in an orgy of violence. I tried to jam the broken chair leg in his ear.
But I didn't of course. Because that is only what happened in my imagination in the hours afterwards. Actually what really happened was that as soon as he grabbed my arm and started saying the same old creepy stuff, I pushed him away forcefully and fled the bar immediately feeling thoroughly intimidated.
A bit shaken up, I return to the bar at the hotel where I meet Derek.
'What's up buddy?' he asked. So I told him the story about Wainker and how I was fantasising about hitting him with a chair.
'At least he isn't Ginger,' said Derek.
'Maybe so, but he is the most relentless weirdo I have ever met.' I said. It is true, he is. And as if to prove the point, right on cue Wainker came and sat at our table. The fucker must have followed me again. He reached over to Derek, poking him in the nipple, 'Now, you, like me, like to feel good, really good'' Wainker slathered.
Derek looked at him aghast at first and then aggressively, but Wainker continued undeterred, ''...and as you feel really good, you can begin to wonder what new experiences you can open your mind too...' he continued.
And then, suddenly without a word being said by either myself or Derek, Wainker just got up and left. I was puzzled until I saw Derek's face.
'Oh Jesus!' He breathed as he looked past my shoulder and in the direction of the bar. I turned. There was Ginger, mincing his way in our direction.
All this got me wondering if there is a strange kind of hierarchy between stalkers. Wainker bowing down in front of Ginger's evidently freaky superiority and quitting the field. Maybe there's a territorial mentality between stalkers or a secret communication that the rest of us don't see. Wainker was everywhere, but Ginger had precision. Precision wins.
Wainker was everywhere. Incredibly, he was even in the same security queue as me at the airport when I was leaving the country. But I like to think that is just co-incidence. He couldn't have followed me in a taxi, surely?
Characters like Wainker and Ginger are mercifully rare, but their persistence and determination tend to make them seem more common than they really are. The difference between these two is that Wainker is clearly a highly disturbed and socially dysfunctional individual who undoubtedly was known to the authorities, Ginger is a highly successful trainer and businessman who is clearly not only socially functional but is also very popular. What is evident from all this is that all the NLP training in the world won't save people from making a complete fool of themselves in making major social mistakes. For me this isn't really the bad thing in all of this. After all, for my own part, I can be one of the most socially inept people around and often have to make the sheepish phone call the next day to apologise.
No, it was the small detail that Ginger was supposedly a 'name' in the NLP world and was an assistant on the course on which Derek was a paid attendee. Call me old-fashioned, but I have this strange belief that course trainers and assistants, homosexual or otherwise, really should not try to shag course attendees. Unless of course, a shag was part of the payment deal, but let's not go there.
But then I guess Ginger wouldn't have been the first or the last to use his 'status' in the NLP world to try and get laid. As the fuckfest in the bar on the last evening of the course would later demonstrate.
But more about that in due course.
One of the greatest things for me in attending large courses is the number of fun characters I tend to meet. One of the shining stars on this particular course was Gene. Gene The Invisible was how I first thought of him. With his trousers hitched up past his diaphragm and sporting a haircut that could only have been performed by a blind psychotic, Gene appeared at first to be lacking in any real social skills and tended to shy away from the crowd. It is in meeting people like Gene that I realise how absolutely wrong I can be in judging character. It soon became evident that Gene's naturally talent for comedy made him an excellent public speaker and it wasn't long before he found himself unable to escape the crowd. He consequently tended to be the centre of it and I couldn't help but get the impression that everyone knew why Gene was so popular except for Gene himself.
Now as the week-long seminar drew onward, the growing hormone levels became almost palpable. "I heard that Richard once told all seminar attendees that the gloves were off and they were all married for the week," one panting attendee told me whilst gawping at the Japanese girls. "Uh huh," I said non-committedly, hoping that he'd go away before asking me how I got "into" NLP.
I was rescued by Lolita Smutt, the predatory female "Flirt Coach" who had systematically induced the vagina dentata phobia in every male that she spoke to. She homed in on me, and I readied myself for a mauling whilst the previously panting attendee fled the scene as his testicles retracted in fear.
She stood like a man, but too close and leaning back slightly so that she took on the appearance of a she-male presenting her crotch to me for a good sniffing.
My dog went through a phase of sniffing crotches and it briefly passed through my mind just what the dog would do in a situation like this. I stood like a rabbit caught in the headlights, whilst my brain struggled for something meaningful to say.
I didn't have to worry. Lolita supplied the question to fill the silence. She put her hand on her hip and leaned back a bit further, a pose I had witnessed her strike often before she moved in for the kill.
"So, how did you get into NLP?" she asked. Oh no, not another one - not again! I rather thought she was going to ask me about the size of my cock.
I looked around hoping to catch the eye of someone else I could bring into the conversation, but it was too late. They had all fled to the refreshments table. I realise that I'm the last man standing and they didn't even leave me any weapons. Bastards.
I struggled for a few moments trying to think of the best answer - one that was non-committal enough to discourage the conversation, but one that wasn't rude or insulting in anyway. An awkward gap opened and she bridged it by leaning close and taking ahold of my masonic pendant and asked about its meaning.
The situation was deteriorating by the second. If I tell her what it is, she'll inevitably tell me that she's into magick and wicca and I'll have to hear all about her orgies on hilltops under full moons.
"It's Masonic." I blurt. Fuck!
"Hey, that's so cool," she tells me, "I'm into Wicca myself, do you know much about Magick....?" The fingers caressing my pendant 'accidently' touch my throat.
"Tell you what, I'm just going to go and get a coffee." I tell her.
Actually, I hate coffee, but she didn't need to know that.
I went over and joined Pip who was doing his best for international relations. Having already spent the night with one of the Swedes, a Fin and a Japanese - not at the same time, I should add - he was now working his charms on a lady from Mexico. It was when she asked him, "So, how did you get into NLP?" that I saw his heart sink. He quit and we moved back outside to join the smokers where Trevor was showing people his rash.
All around us the temperature was rising.
"The fuckfest is coming," I told Pip. "Don't worry, it is coming."
"Yes. Yes it surely is." Confirmed Pip.
For the uninitiated, the NLP fuckfest invariably occurs on the evening of the last day of the course. Usually in the hotel bar of the venue where the course is hosted. The fuckfest is an international affair as it usually consists of those people who are catching flights out the next day, or are travelling further than convenient evening transport permits.
Usually, on the end of the last day, there is lots of hyping up of people. There's all the rounds of applause, the giving out of certificates, the cheering, the thanking and lots of feel-good stuff flying around. Email addresses and phone numbers get exchanged, promises of coming-to-visit-sometime are made and hugs and kisses all round. Of course, memories fade fast and very few people ever make that contact later on. But why spoil a good moment as this is all good atmosphere building for the chaos that comes later.
I fled quickly to avoid all the spittle. Before I went I checked with Derek if he was coming to the fuckfest.
"The what?" He asked cautiously.
"Don't worry, it's harmless enough but trust me, you will never look at some of these people the same way again." I told him.
"I'll be there." He said.
I arrived in the bar seconds before Derek and Janet. We were the first ones there. We pulled up our chairs, ordered our drinks and lit our cigars.
"Ahh..let the games begin." Said Derek as the crowd began to arrive.
It wasn't long before some Israeli guy was attempting to chat up Janet. The presence of Derek and myself didn't deter him one bit, after all, this was an NLP fuckfest. All gloves were off - somebody had said that Richard had once said so. And now people were saying that someone had said that Richard had said so. It all gets silly like this at the fuckfest.
"Fuck off!" Janet advised him quietly. She had done one of these before, I could tell.
Meanwhile, a trainer from Germany was strutting his stuff and not getting very far before declaring that he was in an "open relationship" with his girlfriend who was sat wearing a miniskirt so short that one gawping guy declared loudly that he could "see her pubes". This elicited cheers from the throbbing crowd.
She sat next to me. "Come up to my room," she suggested as I watched Pip trying to not explain to Lolita Smutt how he got into NLP. Sensing his opportunity, Pip called over the German trainer and introduced him to Lolita who immediately set about him demanding to know how it was that he got "into" NLP.
All around us, more people were arriving and everyone was getting increasingly tactile. The tension and desperation was growing to a fevered pitch. More guys tried hitting on Janet and all met with the same fate. I began to expect violence at any moment - Janet could get like that after a few drinks.
Meanwhile, clearly feeling left out of the shenanigans, German Miniskirt shouted woefully, "Why doesn't anyone want to fuck me?" before stropping off to the ladies room.
My girlfriend was sat the other side of me enjoying the show. As a psychopharmacologist with no interest in NLP or anything related she could only sit back and say, "You NLP people sure are a weird bunch!" at which point German trainer came immediately in order to attempt to demonstrate "anchoring" on her which seemed to involved an awful lot of what I would call, "stroking."
"You are a prick!" She told him and he quickly withdrew to go and try his luck on the ever-present Japanese girls before returning to Lolita who was grateful to find the only guy in the building that wasn't scared of her.
Elsewhere things were building to a climatic crescendo. Sexual tension and desperation hung in the air and the air was getting sticky. So to extend the time for opportunity, the call came to move onto a nightclub elsewhere that was open late. This created much excitement as some people tried to persuade other people, who of course had to put up the token resistance. The noise grew and then as quickly as it had started, it was over. The horny rabble departed noisily as the fuckfest moved onwards.
This left the bar empty except for me, Maddy, Derek and Janet.
"Thank Christ for that." said Maddy as the rest of us nodded in agremeent.
"Shall we go home now?" I suggested.
"Oh yes, yes please," came the reply.
(C) 2007 Andrew T. Austin
Firstly, thanks to all those people who wrote to me to point out the typos. It still amazes me that I can read through a piece of writing several times and run it through the spell checker, and still numerous typos remain unnoticed. I'd never make an editor, that is for sure. So please, if you do spot typos, I do appreciate someone telling me. Thanks!
Now, in the first 24 hours since I put up this page, I received quite a large amount of emails relating to the essay. Whilst the majority were expressing some level of agreement to the themes explored in the essay, I did get a few that only serve to prove my point.
I'll add at this point that no private correspondence will ever be published or identities betrayed outside of a court order and/or written consent . And that being said, I was quite amazed to receive two very similar emails from two different individuals whom I have never knowingly met or nor ever heard of before. Both identified themselves the same as one of the characters portrayed in the essay, and both threatened legal action if I didn't remove the webpage.
I did wonder if the emails were hoaxes - I do appreciate this kind of humour - but no. The IP addresses and email domains check out and correspond to their business websites.
I haven't laughed so hard in ages.
So, bring it on boys, bring it on.