IT HAPPENED - THE COMMUNITY OF JOE
I grew up in Texas. Some time in the mid-80s, my mom was put in charge of the Dharma Study Group. What that meant was that we rented a little house in a different area of town, and once a week, everyone in her group would get together and meditate. On Sundays. The group attracted a lot of different types. Call them seekers.
There was one guy, Conrad, who became convinced that my mother had a third eye. If he had meant this metaphorically, I could sort of see what he was saying—she is very intuitive. In fact, there's a whole diagnosed personality type for which being very good at reading other people's subconscious motives is one of its qualities. She might be like that. But what Conrad meant when he said "third eye" was not "good at reading other people's motives." What he meant was "third, oblong eye, located above the other two, but tilted so it's like an egg, and openable at the will of its owner." He was Chinese. As a side note, I recall one night around 10 PM the phone rang and my mother was suddenly going, "No—no, Conrad. Conrad, I don't have a third eye." She slammed the phone down, and it immediately began again to ring. He was, apparently, saying, "I know you do. I saw you open it." He had the idea that my mother was concealing her powers, but that if he asked enough, she'd relent, and open the eye.
There was another guy. He was a wizened gay man who often wore a beige T-shirt with a gigantic orange sphere silkscreened onto it. That, and shorts, and black socks. Aware that the meditation center—our house—was in disuse six days of the week, he asked my mom if he might use it one night weekly for another of his groups, The Community of Joe.
"Well, maybe. What's that?"
"It's... a gay man's ac-action group."
"Well, all right. What would you guys need the space for?"
"And what's a meeting?"
"A weekly get-together."
"Right, but what would you be doing at meetings?"
"Well, working to... prevent the spread of... HIV," he coughed.
"How do you do that?"
"Well..." and here, I have to just kind of say that I don't know quite how the conversation went down, and I find it pretty inconceivable, but my mother ultimately drew out of this man that what he was proposing was that once a week, he and a handful of old Southern queers would converge on her meditation hall and jack off.
She told him yes.
No, just kidding. She said no, of course.