I didn't do formal dates in H.S. However, at the end of the Summer just before I entered my senior year, I had a short encounter with a woman who was to have an impact on my adult life.
This was Chameleon Aconitum. I was 17 and she was 24.
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Ray and I attended Faith BC. However, we went to some events at 1BC as part of encouraging inter-church relations and promoting a less isolationist worldview at Faith BC.
In the Summer of 1999, I attended a Rubens Gh*nov Bible Study that 1BC hosted and sat next to Chameleon in a prayer circle. Note: The Bible Study had been held at the Gh*nov home but had moved to 1BC due to growing in size.
I'd seen Chameleon at the Bible study before, but we'd never talked.
On this occasion, we held hands as we prayed. I thought there was a spark, i.e., we both seemed to be interested in the contact and gripped tighter.
Chameleon was a striking figure in general. She was assertive but talked, and even prayed, rather sensually.
When we held hands in August 1999, she prayed that I'd “bring light” to the legalism at FCA. Note: 1BC was less legalistic than FCA at the time.
I never forgot the occasion, but Chameleon told me, a few years later, that she didn't remember it herself.
Chameleon was born on July 03, 1975. She went to Souderton High School from about 1990 to 1993. She claimed later to have been Prom Queen there in her Senior year.
She often told people the story of her High School and young adult years, but this part is just a story. We don't know what's true and what's made-up. In fact, it's likely that it's only half-true.
Chameleon was already into drugs and sex in High School, she said. However, she added, she was able to “fool everyone” and be “in” with the high-achieving girls at school and get good grades while spending her nights with the “party hearty” crowd.
Shortly after High School, she moved to a metropolitan area, apparently New York City, and became a “Candy Raver”.
In the clubs in the 90s, drug dealers would pass around free samples of various “branded” ecstasy pills which were each cocktails of MDMA and other drugs.
“Rave” was a type of music events at the clubs that featured various EDM (Electronic Dance Music) mostly in a specific “rave” style that included hard-hitting bass.
The participants in this culture were called “Candy Ravers”.
Mark Allard, a former member of the Gh*nov Bible Study, was a D.J. during that period. He says that people would buy a club and make millions of dollars in less than a year, then sell it, and somebody else would try to repeat the success.
Each time, the club would take on a new name and theme, like “Red” or “Space” or something like that.
Mark adds people “paid for the lifestyle and sense of belonging” and that while he was there, he was trying to have “Christianity without Christ” as in, a drug-fueled sense of unity.
A dramatic story:
Circa 1995, Chameleon claimed, she became a drug mule.
A drug dealer came up to her and pitched it to her as easy money, and something one could do without getting caught. She agreed, she said, to take the job.
Her role was to pick up hash from Jamaica and get it back to the States. Note: Hash is a potent form of marijuana.
When Chameleon got to Jamaica, she partied with the drug crew there, then they taped the “dank hash” all over her body and had her swallow some of it in bags.
She said that she was caught in the airport. One of the bags taped to her body showed a bit out from under her collar.
They took her to a waiting room. The waiting room had posters about how law enforcement knew the scoop. There was one that said that the bags you swallow can burst and give you a lethal dose of heroin. She said that that poster made her afraid.
So, she was sent to a Jamaican prison.
She said that two Catholic girls, also imprisoned, cried and told her to turn to Christ like they'd done after being imprisoned. She called out to Christ, she says.
Not long after, a lawyer in a white business suit met with her. She went to Court and was freed without explanation.
The lawyer must have been an angel, she decided later, sent by God to reward her for her new-found faith. It isn't clear why the Catholic girls were left behind.
Whether or not the Jamaica story is true, circa 1995, Chameleon came back to Pennsylvania. It may have been to live with her mother, who was still in the State at the time.
She shaved her head and started to use her biological father's surname instead of her legal surname. The reason for the changes isn't clear.
Chameleon became associated with Rubens. This could have happened accidentally. Rubens is known for “knowing everybody everywhere he goes”. He's charismatic and tends to befriend even strangers.
Chameleon refused to come to Church services, but she agreed for Rubens to read the Bible to her in her home.
She visited the Gh*nov Bible Study as well. I saw her for the first time on one of those occasions. I was just 13.
The Old Coder says:
The Old Coder says: “The Jamaica story is pure fiction. It's made-up. This didn't happen or key incidents were omitted. Sure, they shrugged and let her go without explanation because God sent a lawyer angel in a white suit. Too bad the Catholic girls didn't get one.”
Jake comments: I can't say that the story sounds believable. But she sold it quite well to Church groups. In fact, it led to a full-ride scholarship to Baptist Bible College, an institution in Clarks Summit, PA that is now known as Clarks Summit University.
People were fascinated and captivated by Chameleon's sordid past. She said that she wanted to become “a single missionary to Africa” to demonstrate her commitment to her new life. In the end, 1BC offered her the scholarship and she took it.
The mundane truth:
Chameleon was born in 1975. She attended Souderton High School circa 1990 to 1993. Rubens Gh*nov was a classmate.
Chameleon moved to New York City or the area circa age 18. She was inconsequential there. She worked as a prostitute though possibly as a barrista or other blue collar worker as well. In her spare time, she was a “raver”.
If Chameleon was ever a drug mule that God rescued by way of angels dressed in expensive clothes, there is no evidence of this.
The reality is that Chameleon seems to have been a prostitute whose primary skill was that she was just post-High School and men found it attractive to get on top of such types. However, she didn't do that well at the profession.
Chameleon returned to the Souderton area circa 1995 after a couple of years in the big city. She contacted Rubens Gh*nov but there wasn't much to talk about.
Chameleon became further associated with Rubens over time. It should be noted that Rubens is known for “knowing everybody everywhere he goes”. He tends to befriend even strangers. Chameleon took advantage of this.
Subsequently, the young woman came up with the angels-drug mule scam as a possible ticket to a future that was to be funded by Fundies who were eager to believe her story.
Fundies then sent her to college; specifically, to BBC.
Jake says: I first met Chameleon in 1995 shortly after her return from New York City. I was just 13 years old, but I still remember a wild-eyed creature with her head shaved.
She'd shaved her head and started to use her biological father's surname for reasons that weren't clear. It seemed to be some sort of New York City legal issue.
Her core position was that she was the center of all things and the world needed to do her bidding. If nothing else of her story is true, it's true that she was a striking figure.
Chameleon was a leader initially at BBC. She led “street evangelism” teams for a while. She was also on the drama team there and a natural for that.
However, she was eventually kicked out of the school. By 1BC, apparently, as opposed to the school itself, but, like so much else with Chameleon, the details aren't clear.
There was an incident at Christmas 1998 or 1999.
Chameleon had a boyfriend at BBC, an aspiring pastor. She told her boyfriend that she didn't feel connected to her family and so she didn't really have anywhere to go for Christmas. He and she agreed that she should go to his parents' house for the Christmas break.
She was to sleep on the couch.
Her boyfriend got up to get a drink of water late at night, and passed the couch. She said she was lonely and sad and needed him to stay with her a while. They ended up having sex on the couch.
During a visit back home, Chameleon claimed, she felt guilt and confessed the incident to 1BC. 1BC, she said, responded by cutting off her scholarship.
Chameleon added that terminating her future opportunities for ministry was cruel and damaging to her spiritually.
It isn't definite that all of this happened or happened in the way that Chameleon claimed. Others have confirmed the story but they may have gotten the details from her.
Over the next 2 to 3 years, Chameleon remained loosely associated with the Bible Study but had ups and downs. She went through periods of negative behavior followed by “coming back to Christ” and then the cycle would repeat.
I remember visiting the Bible Study one time and asking about her. Rubens looked down and said, “She's not doing well right now”. He suggested that I pray for her.
The year after I held hands with Chameleon, 2000, Ray and Chameleon hooked up. Chameleon told me later on that Ray didn't question her sincerity and that was something that she liked about him.
The couple lived together in a “flophouse” while Ray attended BBC Seminary. But it didn't last long.
According to Chameleon, they had a one-night stand a year later, on Sep 11, 2001. It happened due to her distress about the 9-11 attack. She was at a bar, she said, and saw Ray there. She slept with Ray that night due to a desperate need for human contact.
Chameleon told me that she slipped quietly out the door after the encounter. Ray's version of the story is that they “dated for a very short time”.