By Bill Boyles
So…clearly I am not telling these stories chronologically. This one skips all the way to the end of my time at Paradise Cove (although I still had 8 months left in WWASP.) I’m going to do this for two reasons: firstly, it’s a badass story, and secondly, there is a great picture of me that goes with this story that I want to go ahead and post up. This story takes place starting on August 3rd, 1999. I was a Level 5 (out of 6) and the on the 2nd I had just been informed I was to leave P.C. on the 4th headed for P/C, or the Parent/Child Seminar 1. The whole subject of WWASP seminars needs its own very long story to explain the concept fully, but suffice it to say they were two to three day events that involved brainwashing, digging up painful emotions and memories, lots of getting ripped on by peers, lots of ripping on peers, being forced to perform strange acts (like one time they made me dress up like a BUTTERFLY and dance around to some Madonna song or something), and never-ending indoctrination to the set of program-specific jargon and ideas, such as the idea that your mind creates whatever you want, and so the things that happen to you, even bad things, you de facto WANTED to happen to you (I remember hearing a girl in a seminar one time get told she WANTED to be raped by her father…pretty sick stuff.) And every kid in every WWASP program was subjected to this two to three days every month to two months for their entire stay. I personally did Discovery, Focus, Accountability four times, and Keys to Success I believe 6 times. Then I did Parent/Child 1 and 2.
An overview of the TASKS seminars
And that doesn’t count staffing, where Upper Levels went back through a seminar both to provide the ripping and to perform functions like watching the kids during breaks, grading their homework, and running the sound equipment. P/C, as you may have guessed, was a seminar you took with your parents. One part of its design was to reacquaint kids with their parents. Case in point, I had been in the program 22 months at this point. My parents had come one time for 3 days to visit, and I had had maybe six 10-minute phone calls, in other words, one hour of talking to them. I had changed because of what had been done to me, and my parents and I were almost complete strangers to each other. The other point of P/C was to start the process of drafting something WWASP called a “Home Contract.” It was a codified set of rules you would have to agree to follow before you were allowed home. There were consequences for breaking the rules up to and including being sent back to the program. If you didn’t want to agree to your Home Contract, you could wait til you were 18 and opt for your Exit Contract, which was (and still is!) where your parents essentially abandoned you to your fate. A typical exit contract in Paradise Cove was a flight to LAX, two to three nights in a cheap hotel, and $50-$100, along with the pronouncement that you were no longer part of the family unit, so you were requested never to call, write, or otherwise contact your family ever again. I know many kids who took that deal. Imagine trading your family, FOREVER, just to get out of the program because that’s how bad it was. But I digress…back to the story. I was leaving the next day. I was so freaking excited I could barely stand it. There was quite a few of us going, I think 3 or 4 (I can’t remember which…I remember 3 people but I have this feeling like I’m forgetting somebody or somebodies…there may have been 5 of us), which was a lot. Somehow the idea of celebratory rugby game came up, so we went over to Fagatele (Fun-ga-tel-lay) Beach from Sinalele Beach to play. It was staff vs. Jr. staff. Have I mentioned the Samoans are a humongous people? I mean really just gargantuan. The Rock is Samoan, and he would be of an unremarkable size walking around there. So we’re playing RUGBY against these huge guys. But after a few minutes, we were winning. That’s when the game got pretty competitive. Right towards the end, I was running, following the play, and caught a completely unnecessary elbow right in the face from one of the staff. I went down like a ton of bricks and landed face first in the sand. That’s when someone (staff member) put their foot on the back of my head and ground my face in the sand. I got up, shook it off, and kept playing. But that becomes important later, so remember it. We did some other stuff that day and night that were like fun, celebratory things, but I won’t bore you with that. The point is, the next day, we got taken to the airport and put on a flight.
Now it was customary to give us a little cash so we had some money for the trip, since as upper levels we weren’t escorted by staff the whole way. Instead, we were all responsible for each other. Someone (I’m not saying it was me….I’m not saying it wasn’t either) had managed to slip unnoticed into the duty-free shop and purchase a bottle of Beefeater Gin. Before we got on the flight, we found a quiet corner and passed the bottle around, quickly draining it. Then we boarded. We flew from Western Samoa to Pago Pago (pon-go pon-go), in American Samoa. And that’s where we were met by Lafi, quite possibly the biggest scumbag in all of Samoa.
Almost every boy at Paradise Cove knew Lafi. Most boys flew into Pago Pago on their way in, and due to the long flight and the vagaries of time changes, got into the airport very late. That meant an overnight layover in American Samoa, and that’s where Lafi came in. On my way in (the story of which I may tell later), there were six of us, and Lafi didn’t have enough beds at his house. Since the beds were just mattresses and box springs sitting on the ground, he split them up. I lost the rock, paper, scissors and ended up having to sleep on a box spring. Let me tell you how THAT feels…but I’m getting off topic. Lafi picked us up at the airport, a reverse of my past experience. Little did Lafi know this was his last hurrah working for the program. You see, I was in a group of kids that had all been in Paradise Cove a long time, and so we were all masters among masters at manipulating. Even though he was skeezy as hell, poor Lafi was in essence a simpleton. And so, before he knew it, Lafi was driving us to a liquor store and buying us a bottle of booze along with a pack of smokes. That was my first cigarette ever. It was a GPC Red, and I vividly remember it to this day. The other boys had to teach me how to smoke. The cigarette made my head spin and I almost threw up. But I didn’t. Thanks guys, really appreciate that. Lafi might have still weaseled his job back after that, but we weren’t done with him. The next thing, we decided, was to go to a movie. But when we got to the movie theater, the only thing playing was Lake Placid. But Lake Placid was an R-rated movie, which was as big a no-no as booze and squares. No problem. Not only did we get Lafi to allow is to go, somehow we got him to buy the tickets! It was a pretty crappy movie, but I was buzzed so I didn’t mind. After the movie, when we back to the airport, and Lafi bought us all burgers and fries at the little bar and grill there. I’ll never forget that place either. It had this huge curving wall on side that was a huge mural…funny what details you remember. Anyways, we brought up to Lafi that burgers and fries tasted really good with beer, so he bought us a round. And then another round. And another. And another. I have no idea how much I drank that night, I do remember that at Pago Pago Airport, they don’t have a jetway. Instead, they wheel up this flight of stairs and you climb them to get in. It’s a steep flight of stairs, and 747s are tall airplanes. I almost didn’t make it. I literally almost fell off the side of the stairs I was so drunk. The last thing I remember is one of the guys in the group vomiting into those little airsick bags as the plane climbed for altitude. Luckily I was sitting a few rows in front of him. I passed out so bad that when I woke up, as the plane landed in Hawaii, you could see the pattern lines of the fabric of the seat in front of me imprinted on my face. That was an epic hangover. We all had them. We were so hungover in Hawaii we could barely claim our luggage. We had to concentrate just to check in to our next flight, a connecting flight to Los Angeles . And we were so hungover 8 hours later or so in LAX we had to concentrate just to check in to our next flight, a connecting flight to Las Vegas. That’s why no one noticed when one of us, who will remain nameless, ran away. He apparently was from L.A., so he made a phone call and split. No one even noticed he was gone until we got Las Vegas. That was a gigantic, collective, OH SHIT moment. We all knew we were going to pay for that one. When I walked off the jetway in Las Vegas, my folks were waiting for me. They took this picture:
Bill Boyles at Maclaran International Airport, 08/05/99
Study it for a moment. That strange color of my skin is a suntan as only two years shirtless in the sun with no sunblock ever can create, combined with jaundice from malnutrition. You can also see the two black eyes I have from that “friendly” game of rugby. Also, look close at my eyes….yes, I have pinkeye in both eyes in that picture. My parents took me to a walk-in clinic in St. George, Utah (where the seminar was) and the doctor told me it was one of the worse cases he had ever seen. I’m carrying almost everything I own. Since everything was in shorty supply, and you could just have your parents buy anything you needed when you got to Utah, it was customary in Paradise Cove to give your stuff away to the other boys when you left. My checked “bag” was a pillowcase with some sentimental mementos in it. Nothing else. I have lost all that stuff over the years through break-ups and a divorce mostly, and it makes me so sad. The two books I’m holding are what we called “signing books” in Paradise Cove. They fulfilled the function of yearbooks in ordinary schools. When someone left, they would sign your book and you theirs. What makes me sad is I had signatures in there from Teague Farnsworth, Nic Gustafson, Mark Davis, and Steve Clark, all dead now at their own hands, but in my opinion killed by the Cove. Anyway, the point of the picture is this: my PARENTS took this picture. How do you look at your son, looking like this, and three days later hand right back over to the same people and tell them, “Sure! More program is exactly what he needs?”You see, after P/C, I headed off to Casa By The Sea. I was scheduled for a four month stay. However, after about a month the shit hit the fan over our little party in Pago Pago. I got dropped and it took me seven more months to get out of there, so my four month stay turned to eight. Lafi got canned too. But it was all totally worth it. To my knowledge no P/C group from Paradise Cove or anywhere else has even gone off the reservation like that. It makes me proud. It’s truly a worthy accomplishment. That the story of the party in Pago Pago on the way from P.C. To P/C, and this was Notes From Tha Cove.