Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ben Zudism
(a true story)

It was bound to happen. After all, there have been cults for ever and every where. Some hide in the dessert while others hang around airports. Where ever you find them, they all have things in common. They will often lhave symbolic items around their necks or waists or pinned to their uniforms.

They dress alike, for the most part. This is to stymie creativity and individualistic thinking. They do not let their members go off on their own for fear they will find another way and not come back.

Although they dress alike, each cult has its own unique take on how they dress and what they wear. Finally (for this presentation, there is obviously lots more I could enumerate here...but I digress), these cults have an object of worship. These objects are usually unique and, at least to us, often bizzare. Never the less, they are a source of strength and serve as a unifying device among its followers. The Ben Zudists are no different.

I "stumbled" across this sect one sunday morning out on lake Michigan. At first I thought they were just a bunch of nice folks out for some fun, but I was soon to learn differently. Like all the other sects, these people were passionate about their goings on and eager to tell me about themselves (probably hoping for a convert). And they dressed alike. Unique among them was a top that made them all look a bit hunched back. They were, of course, in little boats and wore skirts in a way that made it look as if the boat was part of them. I even wondered if they had normal bottom halves.

They told me that they often met sunday mornings to worship (they never said why they had picked the Christian sabbath...but I digress). I noticed that they all dressed alike, although there was some variation in color amongst the group. They called themselves paddlers and carried large sticks with goiter-like nodes on each end. They dipped these into what they referred to as the sacred waters to move themselves along (there was absolutely no talk about a mother ship).

They seemed a cheerful bunch, and I wondered if they were on something and headed out onto the lake to commit group suicide (they wouldn't have even needed Kool-aid). As it turned out, they were on a pilgrimage to pay homage to a great man. Well, actually, they referred to him as The Boy. That really caught my attention, for I had been on the lake for decades and knew of no Boy. Besides, we were already in 50-foot deep water, and this Boy would have had to be a Big Boy in order to be seen above the surface. I wondered if they might be pedophiles. I was hooked and, consequently, followed them at a discreet distance. I was to be rewarded for my persistance for, several minutes later, I was able to make this rare photo of the Ben Zudists (as I later learned they are called) in the very act--the very ritual act--of paying homage to The Boy.

Oh yes, I almost forgot (just in case you come across these folks one day), they smelled funny. I think it was something they were wearing.

Paddle safe...



Greg Fojtik said...

This is the first I've heard of us called "Ben Zudists." I've always refered to our kind as "We of the Vacant Grin." My memory is hazy as to my own entry into the group. I do recall being a committed creature of the land. Then there was that first wet exit in a class at Rutabaga's, without nose-plugs, in that little mud puddle behind the store. Then, "Must go see the 'boy.' Must go see the 'boy.'"

Silbs said...

Aha, you are hooked. I noticed you ended with the mantra of the group