How to Pick a Lover

Another circumstance tormented me in those days: that no one resembled me and that I resembled no one else.
—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

If you like to do ordinary or more commonplace things, then it is relatively easy to find someone to do them with you. Everyone likes a well-prepared meal; everyone likes to drive through the park and watch the sunset. Sometimes, however, your passions may be so exotic that they are almost unshareable.

A young married  woman I know became fascinated with the Middle Ages when she was an adolescent. She devoured history books while her girlfriends devoured teen magazines. In college, she found her forte in the study of Chaucer and went around happily reciting passages in excellent Middle English. Alas, Middle English is a very exotic tongue and one not widely appreciated.

To her delight, she found, in one of her classes, a young man as infatuated as she was with the distant past. He spoke Middle English just as fluently. They went around delighting each other with outrageous puns no one else could understand. When she found an error in someone’s translation, she could point it out to him and he was interested and impressed.

Eventually, they went to bed together, and they even spoke Middle English there. Chaucer can be quite bawdy, but the appeal of this lover was not his lovemaking so much as his compassionate understanding of an exotic world.

The Rules of Attraction

The Rules of Attraction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One person who is almost, by definition, alienated is the stranger in a strange land. A young married Puerto Rican living in Alberta, Canada, with her English-speaking husband, an oilman raised in Edmonton, told me how she felt like she was living in the subarctic. She was terribly lonesome for strong sunlight and a profusion of plants and the ocean. One day when she was at the market, a countryman made a casual comment to her in Spanish about the weather—which, for them, was not a casual issue. They eventually become lovers; but the lovemaking was of less importance to her than huddling under the blankets, speaking Spanish instead of struggling with English, and reminiscing about palm trees, real rum, fresh fish, and the spirit of carnival.

She was not unhappy with her husband, and she did not want to go home to the poverty of oppression of her childhood, but she was homesick for her own culture. The Puerto Rican lover could understand her ambivalence in ways her Canadian husband never would.

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Comments on: "Alienation: Sharing Exotic Tastes" (2)

  1. (anatomyofaffairs.wordpress.com) said:

    This is so interesting. Sounds like many people seek the comfort of their comfort zone, Though I believe this may be situational. I mean, we don’t all seek the same level of comfort or. Familiarity.

    Great post. You really cause one to think, and that’s a good thing.

    • Sorry for the delayed response. My procrastination has been getting the upper hand as of late. I agree with you totally that it’s situational. The degree to which someone feels alienated from something that they place significant value on would also be a prime motivator. I see it, more as less, as one of many contributing factors that may cause us to be drawn or attracted to one individual over another – either consciously or unconsciously

      If I remember correctly, you are leaving on vacation in the next few days. Have a great vacation!

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