Today, as I was closing the site when the last of the tourists left, I met a gentleman in our parking lot. Being a loquacious sort, I engaged the fellow in conversation. I like to point out features on the site and to talk up the local tourist attractions (the better we do, the greater my job security- plus, I like to steer visitors towards my favorite places to guarantee their continuing success). This gentleman was extremely knowledgeable about the area, and he spoke with authority about the storied career of journalist and adventurer Caspar Whitney, who established the Belvedere estate in Tarrytown, NY (the best information on Belvedere can be found at the website of Hudson Valley history expert and all-around good guy Rob Yasinsac). We then spoke about Dr. Philip Gillette Cole, the former owner of Tarrytown's Zeeview estate, who amassed a huge collection of Western art which now resides at Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. We passed a good while talking about art history- he mentioned that Monet's La Japonaise is one of his favorites, and that his wife was from Osaka.
Noting his eclectic background, I asked him about his travels, and he mentioned that he had had a typical upbringing in Cincinnati, but had traveled extensively as a member of the Unification Church. I play a big, bad, bald bastard on the internet, and "the bastard" is a slight exaggeration of the real me. My meatspace public persona is characterized by a studied imperturbability- you tell me you're going to kick my ass, I reply asking calmly if you have decent medical coverage, you tell me that someone on the property has passed out, I call 911 and make sure that the way is clear for the EMTs. If I actually cared to study the rules, I'd probably make a good poker player, because I have a good face for it. When I heard that this nice gentleman was a moonie, my reaction was pretty much "oh, that's nice" and I asked him if he had been married in the mass wedding at Madison Square Garden (he hadn't).
I'm on record not being a fan of Reverend Moon, largely for his right-wing political activism in the U.S. and his regressive views on sexuality, but I didn't make an issue of this to my new moonie acquaintance. We had had a nice conversation, and I actually learned a lot about the history of the Belvedere Estate, which is next to the beautiful neo-gothic Lyndhurst, now a museum. No need to be mean to the moonie- he was a genuinely nice guy and he told a tale of being an introverted kid with a poor sense of self-worth. He found his peace with an organization that I find unfathomable and slightly sinister in a somewhat ridiculous fashion- basically the Skeletor of religions. He ended up a decent guy.