Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Peril of Dating a Monk

Honestly, I have been contemplating starting a blog for about a year. I didn't literally spend that much time debating about it; I just was busy with other things. More importantly, though, I was concerned that blogging was a really self-indulgent thing to do, as taking the time to publicly post my private thoughts is inherently self-indulgent. This is a compounded by the fact that this blog is not going to be a food blog, or a photo blog, or a blog about my backpacking trip to Indonesia, ostensibly designed to keep in touch with my family. So, how did I decide to embark, you wonder? Well, I decided not to take everything so seriously and just to chill out. Plenty of people blog, and these are stories I would email 98% of the readers anyway (as you are all most likely my personal friends). 

Also, I already have a Gmail account, so setting this took approximately a minute. 

The Peril of Dating a Former Monk

 Last weekend I met this guy named Louis[1] when I was out enjoying a Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest (excellent, by the way). So, you know. I started talking to him and I asked him what he did, SOP. He said that he was a photographer/sculptor. 

So, we keep talking, and it's okay; he has lots of interesting hobbies. He cycles, he takes photographs, obviously, he plays the guitar; also, he is a vegetarian. Sounds great. He owns three motorcycles and he drove up to Ohiopyle that very morning to take in the foliage and enjoy the weather. This is highly appealing to me; I love the foliage, and I really want to take a trip to Ohiopyle this fall, although I do not love motorcycles.  We keep talking, and I do notice one awkward habit he has: he does not make eye contact when he talks. This is highly unnerving. Actually, it is probably the most awkward thing a person can do to you, particularly when you are speaking with him in the context of potential romantic interest. I mean, what is the issue? Are you bored? Are you tired? Did you drink a cocktail laced with drain cleaner, causing your eyeballs to roll to the left quadrant of your head only? Unclear. Finally, at one point, he mentioned that he is a little shy, and so I said, "Louis, is that why you don't make eye contact when you talk?"

He responded with "Well, Amanda, the thing is, your eyes are like a FireWire to your soul."

That took me a minute to digest. I mean, I understand the sentiment, obviously; making eye contact with someone is certainly intimate, and I imagine he was going for an updated, less cliche version of the phrase "your eyes are the window to your soul." But, the completely sincere comparison of one's eyes to a FireWire--the serial bus interface standard for high speed communications and isochronus data transfer--seemed to me to a be a bit hyperbolic.

Yet, somehow, despite this, I found myself sitting across from this individual later last week, sharing mojitos and sushi. Why did I do this, you ask? Mostly, the aforementioned hobbies, and his love of Belgian beers. Also, he has a studio on the first floor of his house, which is appealing to me. [2]

During the course of our conversation, we talked about the neighborhoods we lived in,  and Pittsburgh in general. I asked him where else he had lived before Pittsburgh, and he responded, "Well, I lived in India for 12 years when I was a celibate monk." 

I honestly didn't know what to say to this; I have not yet dated any post celibate monks. I obviously had a lot of questions, the foremost of which you can probably guess. However, what I actually said was: "What made you leave...monkhood?" 

His response? "In order to understand why I left, you have to understand why I became a monk." 

Now, honestly, this in and of itself isn’t necessarily a problem. I honestly hold no judgment, aside from my general surprise because you know, it’s not every day that someone tells you he used to be a celibate monk. However, I do have some experience in this area; my cross country coach in high school was a former monk, actually, and he was way zen. But, bottom line, I would rather date a former monk any day than an investment banker who utters the sentence, “You know, you have to be really smart to be an investment banker.”[3]

So, Louis proceeds to tell me about his entry into monkhood, which involved sitting in a field with his shirt off and allowing a spider to crawl from his navel to his neck; building an altar on a cliff on a cloudy afternoon; and also, giving up wordly possessions and pleasures, and so on and so forth.

At this point, I was pretty intrigued. I mean, it isn’t all that often that you meet someone who has given so much thought to the nature of the human experience and also the problems associated with consumerism and the modern pressure to own just about everything. Some of the things he told me were fascinating. For example, he didn't know what Seinfeld was upon leaving the commune, as he hadn't watched television in twelve years. There is something inherently interesting about talking to someone who missed a large chunk of a shared cultural experience, and who is wiling to expound on how that impacted his world view. Many people would rather talk about Jersey Shore and their Wii. 

At this point, you might be expecting this story to end in a sort of noncomformist romance. Well, no. Louis proceeded to tell me that he had 3 kids, one of whom was 19. This negated any interest I had in the monk. I can’t justify dating someone whose oldest child is 6 years younger than I am. That’s pushing the envelope too far, even for me.

Hence, The Peril of Dating a Monk:

1.    1.  Apparently, monkhood keeps you looking really young. The combination of a low stress lifestyle in a rural area and a vegetarian diet devoid of alcohol makes it virtually impossible for your future dates to wager an accurate estimate at your age. 
2.    2. Also, I’m considering purchasing one of those LED lights, perhaps on a keychain, and shining it on potential romantic interests in the future, upon our initial meeting. Bars are dark, and this could help prevent this scenario from cropping up again.  

[1]  His name is not really Louis.
[2] I know this because he told me, not because I let him show me his healing crystals. 
[3] Yes, someone really said this to me. And my response was, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.