Hermits Rock

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You know that moment when you first meet someone—someone who seems a bit too self-assured, a little too involved in the planning of Big Things, slightly more eager to brag about having studied with the Dalai Lama than you expect would be the case with someone who has studied with the Dalai Lama, quite a bit more invested in situating himself in his life than he is in making room for someone else (say, for example, the woman he is about to marry) into it—that you realize he’s a megalomaniac?

To be sure, it’s not a good moment.

And you know how, after the moment has passed, you hope what you realized is not true? You hope so much that you even redact your memory in order to assign all the talk up as nervousness or even as neurotic genius. You try to believe that even though all the things he says about himself, especially the bad things, are probably true, he’s likely mellowed with age, and surely he’s learned how to treat people in such a way that he’s no longer dangerous. Finally, mostly satisfied, you try to forget that the moment even happened.

To be sure, you’re a sucker. He’s totally a megalomaniac.



I knew a guy who studied with the Dalai Lama, at Oxford. An entitled, self-important asshole, and utter prick, he was. He never lacked for fawning 22 year old grad students and Rhodes Scholars in his inner circle, and I’m sure he never will so long as he stays where he is.

Really? Oh. Who’d have thunk that studying with the DL may make one more likely to be less selfless than not studying with the DL? I wonder if his new stint for Emory is a refutation or a confirmation of that?

Someone (else) I know dropped names similarly, only he talked Thomas Merton instead of the Dalai Lama. He is a nihilistic misanthrope though, not a megalomaniac.

I feel like this is the first page of your novel about our year as roommates.

What a year that was! Watching the the sunrise together, snuggled in a blanket, drinking our flavored coffee. I’d bring you cinnamon buns; you’d bring me rum. Oh! I wanted the year to stretch into forever. Why’d you betray me, Manley? Why did you leave? I waited for you, you know. I thought you were just sleeping. Surely he’ll wake soon and come to me, I thought. I waited hours. You never came. My heart was broken. I sank into a drunken stupor. Even still I cannot remember all we did, the year collapses into a few months: a moment of joy, a lifetime of heartache.

Hmmm…I dated a guy like that…now, of course, he’s a missionary in far off places.

A friend was engaged to a guy like that. He is a fairly well known poet. But he played too many nasty games with her, and she got out of that engagement pretty soon after she realized he wasn’t going to change. Purportedly (one indication that he was screwed up? He took her around the country meeting his “friends,” but refused hers), he could be very charming, but that nasty side was very nasty.

Pity the women who don’t such men for who they are.