"Smile of the Beyond, how may I help you," I answered the phone.
I was at work and still puzzled by Lizzie's call just an hour earlier. When had she taken an interest in Guru? Was she actually interested in Guru? Maybe she just thought it would be fun to come to New York.
"Hey Yogaloy." It was Guru on the phone. "Of course your sister may come to Celebrations. Her soul has come to me many, many times." Guru went on a bit more, but that was the gist of it. Liz was in.
I hung up the phone, pleasantly stunned. I had never mentioned Liz to Guru before. Yet, he spoke as if he knew her intimately -- actually excited that she was coming to Celebrations. So, I was excited, too.
Little did I know what a shit storm was brewing.
To fully appreciate the situation that was about to unfold, you've got to keep in mind two simple factors: the boys and the girls. In the Center, the two generally don't mix. At all functions, meditations, concerts -- the girls sit on one side of the room, the boys sit on the other. Even the nomenclature -- boys and girls rather than men and women -- is meant to instill a sense of innocence. Celibacy for unmarried disciples is the rule.
As in all such bureaucracies, rule violators were reported by tattletales -- a practice expressly endorsed by Guru.
Until that point, such issues didn't concern me. For one thing, I was otherwise occupied. For another, I was largely hanging out with a bunch of younger guys who had been born into the Center, whose mothers and fathers were disciples. They weren't interested in girls, either. Or so I thought.
I was naive. At the time, I had gone through my high school experience. I had had some experience with the opposite sex, and I was glad to have passed beyond it. Not so with the 17, 18 and 19 year olds I was hanging out with, who had largely been sheltered and were now brimming with testosterone.
It was into this mix that my 18 year old sister arrived. She looked like Lindsey Lohan ala Mean Girls (pictured). You can imagine the stir it caused.
For the next two weeks, it seemed like I spoke to Ashrita every day. The boys from the brat pack couldn't stay away from her. Consequently, Guru was inundated with complaints. Guru, in turn, spoke to Ashrita, who called me to put the kibosh on it all.
Liz was blameless. First off, she didn't know any better. Boys had been a normal part of her life up to then. Second, when I asked her not to approach the guys, she complied. The guys, however, who knew better, kept approaching her -- even after I asked them to stop. Now, with hindsight, I guess I can't blame them. But Christ, back then I didn't need the headache.
Importantly, the situation prefaced an aspect of Guru's management style that I would learn -- first hand -- to despise. After numerous calls with Ashrita, he finally called me at the Smile near the end of Celebrations.
"Guru says that if he hears any more complaints about your sister, she's going to have to go," Ashrita told me. That pissed me off. Guru should have hammered the boys -- and their complaining mothers -- not Liz.
In any event, we all got through it. Jeevan and Liz were disciples.