This is a very personal piece… maybe too personal for the blog. But while some of you will dismiss it as “first world problems” it’s a very real problem for me, and if it’s a problem for me it’s likely a problem for some of you as well, in one form or another. Plus I need to write through this, and if I write it I might as well post it. So here goes.
My church, my CUUPS group, and many of my friends are in Denton, but I live in McKinney, 30 miles to the east. When I moved here in 2002 it was an overgrown farm town that was becoming a suburb. It’s now a full-fledged suburb that some years shows up on the “fastest growing cities in America” lists. Next door Frisco gets most of the publicity with things like the new Dallas Cowboys training center or Toyota’s new North American headquarters, but McKinney is doing well, and for a suburb it’s not a bad place to live.
Did I mention it’s growing fast? Most of that growth is OK – I like having more restaurant and grocery options. Infrastructure is mostly keeping up, though growth always presents challenges… and some of those challenges can be rather personal.
That’s a bit surprising. We have the usual assortment of car dealerships, but this is the first luxury brand to locate in McKinney. There’s already a Mercedes dealership in nearby Plano, plus several others throughout North Texas – are there really so many people in the market for a luxury car that there’s room for another dealership? Someone thinks so – these things aren’t cheap to build. It’s scheduled to open later this year.
Why am I writing about this? I don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce and I doubt many of my readers are in the market for a Mercedes, much less in McKinney, Texas. This is where it gets personal.
See, I’m harassed by a Mercedes demon.
Since at least the 1950s, Americans have used automobiles to make a statement about who they are and who they want to be. When I was growing up, ordinary people drove Chevys and Fords. Doctors drove Oldsmobiles. And rich people drove Cadillacs.
By the time I started driving, though, Cadillacs were crap. And by the time my thoughts about cars had moved beyond “what can I get for $600?” the car to have was a Mercedes. That’s what rich people drove. That’s what successful people drove. When the first generation of yuppies in the early 1980s declared BMW the car to have, that just reinforced the idea that Mercedes was the real luxury brand.
I wanted a Mercedes. I don’t think I had even ridden in one, much less driven one, but I wanted one. I didn’t care about the driving dynamics, or the comfort, or the claims of safety and durability. People who drove Mercedes were successful, and I wanted to be successful. I looked at the prices, ran the financing calculations, and came to the unequivocal conclusion that I could not afford a Mercedes. And the numbers didn’t say “maybe in a few years.” The numbers said “are you fucking crazy?”
But instead of letting it go and moving on, the Mercedes demon began to torment me. In my late 20s, every time I passed a Mercedes on the road, my heart would sink a bit. “There’s a successful person. You’re not a successful person. And you’re never going to be a successful person.” My late 20s were a very bad time to be me.
I wanted everything the mainstream culture told me I was supposed to want. And I was miserable because I didn’t have it, and I couldn’t see a path to getting it.
Over time, I came to realize that I didn’t really want all this stuff, and having it would be more trouble than it was worth. I learned that what I was craving were experiences, not things. I learned that for me, “success” didn’t mean getting rich, it meant becoming a Druid and a priest. I still needed enough (it’s hard to be spiritual when your roof is leaking), but I had enough. My house is big enough. I have enough clothes. I don’t like expensive watches. I can’t afford “fine dining” more than maybe once a year, but I prefer simpler food anyway. And I have a small but close group of friends (some Pagan, some not) who I love dearly and would not trade for anything, much less for a bunch of “glamorous” rich folks.
But the Mercedes demon still bothers me.
Not like it did in my 20s. I can walk through the parking garage at work, see the executives’ Audis and BMWs, and hop into my Toyota with barely a second thought. If leading an “always on” work life is the price of admission, count me out. But my eyes still linger just a bit when I walk past a Mercedes. Fundamentalist Christianity isn’t the only thing that has long tentacles that are hard to remove.
Seeing this new dealership go up just a few miles from where I live brought it all back to the forefront.
Are demons real beings or are they the darker side of our psyches? Both, I think. The Mercedes demon seems like an internal phenomenon and those don’t respond well to banishing. That just makes them dig in deeper – they still cause problems but they become even harder to identify and control.
So, being a good magician, I’m going to summon this demon and negotiate with him. What hurt him long, long ago that makes him react like this? What does he really want? What illusion is he selling that could be replaced by something real? How can we come to a mutual understanding?
And because you can never be sure if a demon is internal or external (or both), I’ll be doing this using proper ritual protocols. There’s a good outline for this kind of work in Thorn Coyle’s Kissing the Limitless. I’ve used it before with good results.
Though I wish some other business was going up in this space, I’m not going to oppose the Mercedes dealership. It’s an honest business, and if people have that kind of money, how they spend it is their business… though it gives lie to the claim that taxes are too high.
But I may go over there one evening and put up some wards at the entrance that will whisper to those with the ability to hear them: “if you have to lease or finance long-term, you can’t afford it.” For all the misery the Mercedes demon has caused me over the years, at least he’s never been able to get me to buy.