Why am I far from the mainstream? Tonight, I drove out to the community college, out on the eastern edge of Muskegon. Baker College has a major campus south of the community college. I saw an art opening advertised in a community college, a show of statues extruded by a printing machine. The artist teaches three dimensional design at Bowling Green University and he started life in Taiwan. As most young men do as a rite of passage, he passed a full week as a Buddhist Monk, shaving his head and eyebrows, wearing a saffron robe and begging for food on the street before sunrise. He was fascinating, although his English was incomplete and soft-spoken. I counted the audience and didn't reach twenty. Five of the gathering taught at the college. The remaining ten had to show up as a class requirement, led to the gallery by their professor. Hence, I was the only civilian. I was the only person outside the college walls who had read the listing posted in the community calendar and paid of visit. Why am I that guy?
Being that guy has advantages of nebulous value. A professor retiring this semester had arranged for a table of Taiwanese delights, Thai tea, a marinaded cucumber salad and enough Chicken satay with peanut sauce to feed a Buddhist Monastery. How ironic. Our professor had begged for food on the street for a week. At his art opening, I enjoyed a free and delicious dinner for free, essentially as much a beggar as the professor during his monastery stay. At Eight precisely, staff from food service arrived to bear the pans of food away, forced to throw Chicken Satay for fifty people into a black garbage bag, the bag dumpster bound.
A Cobra snake sheltered the Buddha as he meditated for seven days. When it rained, the Cobra's flared headdress protected Buddha's head from the rain. One of the Cobra's entered the monastery, hoping to become a monk. And so he assumed a human form. One night, while sleeping, the Cobra slipped out of his human form inadvertently, and the novice monks were all surprised to see a Cobra sleeping among the class. As animals or plants cannot become monks in Thai Buddhism, the Cobra was expelled. Here we see the Cobra in human form accepting his dismissal. That's a beautiful story and I might retell the Cobra's tale to advantage at a cocktail party. Hopefully a cocktail party with free call shelf cocktails for then I would be pretty much be begging for drinks, almost a Buddhist act.