I am a weak man. I am little more than a collection of interesting flaws surrounded by a flimsy shell of sleazy charm and sometimes a t-shirt. I am full of uncertainty and doubt, and I can feel it affecting my every single waking moment. Or at least, that's who I used to be.
But no longer.
Now I am a confident, proud Adonis--kicking down the locked doors of opportunity and having my way with it before its neighbors can call the cops. I am a changed man. And I owe it all to the empowerment and leadership seminar: Taking Back the Light.
This all started when I found out that our chief editor, Jack O'Brien, was leaving for vacation this week. Now, I'm no slouch. I took some business classes in college and I remember all of the lessons that I learned there: An absent leader always leaves a power vacuum. The weak do not deserve to lead. The strength to take leadership gives one the right to lead. You keep what you kill.
With these lessons in mind, I confronted our acting editor, David Wong, in the hallway by the sandwich table.
"I challenge you to fisticuffs," I screamed confidently, setting my feet shoulder width apart and thrusting my chest forward, like I've seen countless action heroes and busty sluts do. I was prepared for action.
Then he punched me in the face, and I cried for two straight days.
It turns out that I was misled about a few things: First off, I never went to college; I was thinking of the couch. Secondly, apparently I was confusing "business classes" for The Chronicles of Riddick. And third: Fisticuffs is not that game where you hold your hands out and try to slap the other person's before they can pull them away; it's punching.
This series of shocking revelations left my self-confidence shattered and I was stuck in a shame spiral like a fat kid on a water slide. So, in an effort to better myself, I began looking for self-empowerment courses.
I arrived at the five-day seminar fully packed and completely prepared for anything: One change of clothes (sans underwear), eight packets of condoms (because nothing puts out like low self-esteem), two fifths of Bulleit Bourbon (because some things are worth doing right), 14 Popsicle sticks and one roll of duct tape (because I have seen MacGyver, and I know that everything else on this earth can be duplicated with a bevy of balsa wood and Duct Brand Taping Solutions). What I was not prepared for, however, was all of the pastel sweaters and the unnerving, unwavering smiles: This leadership seminar was at a church.
Church wouldn't be so creepy if they didn't all turn to look at you simultaneously. Also, the screaming. The screaming is unsettling.
"Welcome brothers in Christ," said a man that I decided looked like a Chaz or a Dean, "My name is Dean-" (I fucking knew it) "-and I'll be your leader for the next five days. But after that--the leaders are going to be you! Now, let's start off things with an introduction and a few facts about you. This is my partner Kelly, and she'll kick it off! Kick it, Kelly!"
"I'll kick you, Dean!" Kelly replied sassily. There was appreciative laughter throughout the room, but I could see the secret hate she kept concealed. It bonded me to her. Kelly was a dark and shattered mistress yearning for control, but trapped forever behind the argyle shadow of Dean and his piano-key teeth.
"My name is Kelly," she continued, the suppressed torture oozing from her like poisonous ichors. "And I'm a licensed windsurfing instructor. I love to ski, hot cocoa and my personal hero--aside from Jesus Christ," she said, cocking her head adorably, no doubt to hide the sickening irony she felt, "is Kelly Ripa from Live with Regis and Kelly! She's so inspiring, and she's got a great first name! Tee hee!"
The rest of the introductions passed in a blur: Some dude skipped over for a promotion, a laid-off garbageman, a divorcee--honestly, I wasn't paying much attention, I was busy drowning in the shroud of lust that hung thick in the air, strung like a sexy clothesline between my eyes and Kelly's sultry, heaving breasts; the darkness within her heart barely concealed by... well, her breasts again. Wait. What were we talking about?
"Sir?" She asked. "Sir?"
"What?" I responded.
"Sir...you uh...it's your turn? For introductions?"
"Oh, right. I'm Robert," I said, extending my hand towards her chest, hoping she would she would shake it vigorously. "I'm only a little drunk now, and I got here on the bus."
"That's... great," she said, backing away--obviously perturbed by the surging sexual connection between us that was probably made clear by the erection I kept pointing at.
"We're going to do some roleplaying exercises," Chet or Dan or whatever said. "Who wants to go first?"
The woman in front of me started to raise her hand, but I quickly slapped it down and strode up to the staging area.
"OK, Robert! Good, let's have you be-" Chad or David or whatever started to say, but I cut him off.
"I got this one, Chuck -"
"Whatever. I'll be the school principal and Kelly, you can be the naughty student sent to-"
"It's not that kind of roleplaying, Robert," Kelly interjected, clearly hoping for some interjections of her own (get it? Interjecting her with my pe- ah, you probably get it.)
I was going to ask if you'd been a naughty girl, but prostitutes are mostly naughty these days.
"This is a little self-assertion exercise we do here," Chubs or Donald or whatever continued, "Kelly's going to be your manager, and you're going to ask her for a raise. We're going to want you to keep three things in mind here, and this is our first lesson, everybody: The Three P's. These are three things you want to remember in every conversation and they are: Positivity, Poise and Praise! Positivity, because a smile is always better than a frown. Poise, because a person held properly will always point the way to prosperity. And Praise, because all praise be to the Lord!"
A brief cheer rung out that went on just a bit too long. The sad divorcee started thrashing around in the front row.
"Subhey abulhey chut chut akkula! Akkula chut!" She screamed, seizing on the floor like some kind of dying fish (if dying fish could get divorced).
"Holy shit! That lady got so excited she went fucking Chinese!" I yelled, unable to contain my astonishment.
"Robert, no! Good lord! This is the Apostolic Church. Did you not notice that when you signed up? We're Pentecostals. She's speaking in tongues," Kelly informed me.
"I'll speak in your tongue," I replied quickly, subtly flicking my tongue between my outstretched fingers to tactfully illustrate the point.
"That's it! OUT!" Kelly screamed, that inner darkness finally beginning to vent, lending her flashing eyes a sexy fire and her ball-kicking feet a sultry twist.
"Kelly, no!" said Chap or Donkey or whatever. "What kind of Christians would we be if we turned our back on a lost soul?"
"The kind that gets all Chinese whenever shit goes down?" I offered.
Kelly flashed me a look that was supposed to be anger, but was really thinly disguised lust (you could tell by her boobs. The fact that she had them.)
Your eyes say no, but your boobs say... well, they also say no. I just like to listen to them.
"Take a break, Kel. I'll take over the exercise. OK, Robert. I'm your boss and you're asking me for a raise. Remember, Three P's! OK, here we go..." Chance or Dongle or whatever actually pretended to step out of the room, opening a fake door and everything. "Hiya, Robert! You've been doing some great work lately!"
"On your wife," I replied. Which was awesome.
"That is not appropriate for a work environment. Just... really pretend that I'm your boss, Robert. Pretend that I'm whoever is in charge in your life, and react to me like that--but be confident!" He mimed stepping out of the door again like a dickhead (because anybody that mimes anything does so "like a dickhead.")
His words really struck me this time, though. I came here to improve, after all. I came here to be a better, stronger man. I really had to portray that strength.
"Heya, Robert!" He began, emerging through his douchebag door. "Great work you've beeAAAAAAAAHH CHRIST ALMIGHTY!"
I briefly stopped biting Chalupa or Doo-wap or whatever to see if he was OK. He was really good at this roleplaying stuff--this even tasted like real blood.
"What in God's name are you doing?!" He screamed.
"I'm being confident!" I answered proudly, baring my teeth like I've seen confident people do in those movies where confident people rise from the grave and devour the living.
"That's...OK. Deep breath," he said to himself, "all in God's name, Dean,"
"Dingle," I corrected.
"OK," he said, sighing, "let's do this again, and the confidence is good! But no physical violence, OK?" He stepped out of the imaginary doorway again.
"You forgot to close that," I informed him.
"Oh right, sorry I'll just-" he stopped midsentence. A look of despair overtook him.
I smiled pleasantly.
"OK, Robert. I feel like we've made some great progress here these past 14 hours, but let's try this one more time! I know you can get this! And remember, how do people show confidence?" Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers asked me.
"With words," I replied.
"And how do we not show confidence?"
"By mounting people and thrusting my hips into them," I replied.
"Like...?" He prodded.
"Like dogs do," I answered shamefully.
"Excellent! So last time, and remember: Believe in yourself and you will have power! The immense power that can only be given to you from God!"
"Ackle backle," grunted the spastic faux-Chinese divorcee, "urgle."
"Hey there, sport!" Chortles chirped, stepping in the door. "Good work you've been doing lately!"
"Great work." I corrected him.
"Hey... that's... that's good. That's really good! Oh thank Christ, that's fantastic, Robert! Continue!"
"I am an asset to this company, sir," I pressed on, feeling more confident all the while, "and a valuable one. My talents and merits are going vastly unappreciated here lately and I just feel like you may be taking all of my hard work for granted."
"Good," Charles in Charge cried, actual tears streaming down his face. "This is so good!"
"I just really feel like you've made me powerless lately, but that's a falsehood," I went on, a strange flush heating my skin. "That is a falsehood because I HAVE POWER THROUGH GOD!"
Pictured: Salvation (or a successful touchdown.)
"BORKINS BOP A DOO WOP," screamed Kelly, suddenly seizing and falling to the floor, her breasts vigorously jiggling with the spirit of the lord.
"He has given me power! And it is only His to give! Only His to lord over me! No man has the power of God! No man has power over me!" I felt all control over my voice slipping; it was reaching a booming crescendo that took me quite by surprise.
"God, yes!" bellowed CherZ1 or whatever.
"I ALONE AM GIVEN POWER BY GOD. I ALONE AM GIVEN POWER OVER MAN BY HIS WILL!" I was also surprised to find myself kicking over chairs at this point, while nearly half of the other participants flailed on the floor like an epileptic orgy.
"Wait, Robert this is getting out of hand a litt-"
"I AM THE POWER! I AM POWER!" I chanted relentlessly, taking the bourbon and lighter from my sack. I tore a strip of cloth from Kelly's T-shirt, who was starting to froth at the mouth a little like a sexy little rabid fox, and stuffed it into the bottle.
"I AM POWER! I AM POWER! AND YOU!" I pointed at Cheeseburger and Danish or whatever with my now lit Molotov cocktail. "YOU HAVE BLASPHEMED AGAINST ME!"
"Oh God, no. OH JESUS GOD HE'S CRAZY! SOMEBODY HELP! GOD! GOD SAVE ME!" He babbled, scrabbling away in terror.
"God? GOD?! FIRE IS YOUR ONLY GOD NOW, SON, AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW BEST TO WORSHIP IT."
And his commandments are gasoline and pain.
The bottle left my hand, and the flush in my skin became fire, and the fire became manifest from my body. The holy inferno began to consume the church around me, while the seminar-goers jerked and wailed through the flames. The beams buckled and broke; the choking heat wove a tapestry of Hellfire through the loom of God's house, and all of its threads... were death.
When the firemen arrived, they found me just emerging from the conflagration, the helpless, spent and still body of Kelly resting gently in my arms. She alone was safe--safe and grateful--blissfully unaware of anything that had happened since The Spirit had taken her.
"What... what's going on?" She asked me, her voice weak and uncertain.
"I delivered you," I reassured her. "I delivered you from fire."
"...And then we totally had sex right against the firetruck and that's why you should give me a raise," I finished telling David Wong, acting editor.
He was silent for a long, long time.
"First of all: Please at least refrain from following me into the bathroom during these stories, Robert. And second," he said, stepping away from the urinal and shaking it (side to side, like a Frenchman), "I'm pretty sure none of that happened. According to your expense reports you spent all last weekend doing 'research' for your next drug-based article in the alley behind the Stop 'N Save. And finally: I'm just in charge of Editorial for like a week. I can't even give raises."
"Oh... OK," I said, trying not to let my disappointment show.
"Do you at least want to play fisticuffs then?" I held my hands outstretched before him, "I've been practicing."
Find Robert on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots, where you can read more epic lies and... actually that's pretty much it. Just the epic lies.