I'd been looking forward to hearing it for a long time because I thought it'd be a good episode, as Room of Consequence shows usually are. I thought it might even be a potentially powerful episode, given the main character is Valerie Swanson and that a trip into her mind was bound to be enlightening. What I didn't expect, though, was how, more than just being a fun or interesting episode with a good message generally speaking or for somebody else, it could be used to speak to me.
I've had a lot of turmoil in my mental life for a long time, so long that it's hard to remember what life was like without it. A good portion of that includes a lot of negative thinking. But a week or two ago, I experienced an unusual chain of events.
I wasn't planning on leaving the house on a certain day, but just when I was planning to settle down to sleep, I developed a sudden pain in my mouth. I mentioned it to my mother (which was a rare event in itself), who took me to the dentist to have it looked at. Once we were there, she didn't have time to drive me back home and still make it to work (at the library), so I ended up having to spend the rest of the day at the library.
I admit that when given the opportunity, I like re-reading old childhood favorites. For some reason some "Frog and Toad" books happened to catch my eye, and one of the tales in particular got my attention, 'The Kite'. In that story, one of the protagonists (Toad) hears negative and derogatory comments about what he's doing, and claims them as his own mindset, repeating the statements word for word as though he thought of them. For some reason, that stuck out to me and stayed in my memory, enough so that I commented about it during our drive home.
Sometime later when I got home that night, I decided to listen to the 'new' (it'd been up for several weeks, but I hadn't listened to it yet) OAC episode. I was pleased with the quality of the show as it developed, but I was especially affected by the climax and the way it fit in with the theme of the show, and the way it seemed to go hand in hand with what I'd been thinking about earlier from the book. Then the following night, I went to a church service, and the sermon really spoke to me on the same and similar subjects.
I know most of our members probably didn't have a particular connection with this episode, and some might even have some critical thing or another to say about it. You have a right to your opinion. But I believe it was used (in conjunction with two other messages) to help influence me for the better, and that'll always make it special for me.
Unfortunately, it's a Club episode, which by default is a derogatory label. I wish it wasn't, but that's what the Club's grown to be: a place where nothing happens. Even Bob Smithouser admitted that in a discussion we had recently. So when the Club gave the comment prompt of "Do you think this experience will change Valerie?" it's an obvious no, unless Valerie doesn't return to the mainstream. And with no new Valerie episodes on the horizon, it looks like this episode is a missed opportunity.
As far as the Club goes, I see it as filling in the blanks with the stuff that we don't (strictly) need to know. Hypothetically, if Valerie were to appear in future album episodes and be a bit nicer, it wouldn't take more than a throwaway line or two max to explain it, while the people in the Club would know something closer to the full story.