A Day in the Rather Eccentric Life of Jack Ass Per Pschitt
by, 9th November 2012 at 02:48 PM (202 Views)
We had our house blessed by Buddhist monks today.
Okay, let me back up a bit and give you some background information.
When my dad died, my mom started paying the bills for his house. Turns out, paying for two houses at the same time is not easy. She's decided that she can't continue paying $1,000 a month for the house we currently live in five days a week, and so we're going to flip our schedule backwards. We're moving our stuff from this house to our dad's old house, and coming up here on the week-ends so mom can maintain the store she's set up in this area. We also decided to get some renters. We found some in this guy named Mike and his wife (I think) Tai (and I think I spelled that right), who's from Thailand.
Okay, so now we have renters in this house, and one of them is a Thai named Tai. Apparently, she has to have a house blessed by a monk (or two) before she can move in. My initial thoughts went thusly:
Today was the big day. When Tai's family moved here to Florida from Thailand, they settled around Lake Okeechobee (I think I spelled that right). And she has a big family. They all drove west, over here, and prepared a feast for the occasion.
Now, I mean, seriously, this was a big family. And Mike, my brother, our neighbor Joe, some white guy who helped with the food, my brother's turtle Moose, and myself were the only men in a house that was capacitating about thirty people. Well, besides the monks. There were two of them, both men.
My brother and I were keeping our dog calm in my room, with the door closed, keeping out of the women's way while they prepared the food when the monks arrived. My mom prepared a gift of soap and chopsticks for them. I felt a bit awkward giving the gift to them with both hands and a bow, but I was really just unfamiliar with all the customs and everything. The monks were very nice.
Tai was much better at the routine than I. Whenever she gave something to the monks, she got on her knees, put the item on a cloth napkin, and folded her hands in prayer when they took it. Among these items were a can of Pepsi and a box of snack-size Hershey bars.
The women continued preparing the feast while the monks had their one meal of the day. It's a big meal, but we weren't allowed to eat while they did. I wasn't hungry anyway, my family had gone somewhere to get filled up in advance.
Tai's family was still filing in, even after the monks had arrived. For whatever reason, Tai handed her cell phone to me and tried to tell me that some more relatives of hers needed directions, but she needed someone else who spoke English better to get the point across. I gave the woman on the other end our address, and she started wondering if she could get to us from where she was at. The conversation was pretty one-sided, as it mostly consisted of her talking in a thick Thai accent as I shuffled between "What?" and "Yeah."
Most of Tai's relatives spoke English in varying degrees of fluency. Some of them didn't speak English. Most of the conversations filling up the house were in Thai.
After about an hour, the monks finished eating. We opened up a collapsable table and filled it to the brim with home-made Thai food. I probably would have liked it more if we didn't put our meals on one plate for each of us. The high points of the banquet for me were sesame rolls, which are like freaking delicious and you should go get some right now 'cause you won't regret it, and this Jell-O-like stuff made with coconut milk and... something else. It was pink and green, and pretty good. I mostly just stuck to things I was more familiar with, like grapes and pears and Pepsi. Tai clearly wanted me to deviate a bit, as she piled my plate with noodles and curry and this weird beef stuff.
Eventually, I was able to throw away my plate and just stick to grabbing things off of the table. I grabbed a can of Pepsi and was about halfway through with it when the monks began the blessing.
They prayed things which the family repeated, and then after a few minutes of that, the monks began singing. You know, some sort of religious hymn. They had Tai light some candles and incense beforehand, which she did on her knees, and bowing afterward. They sang for quite a long time. They sang for the most part together, but they sometimes slipped in and out of the harmony, then joined back in a little later. I don't know if that was what they were supposed to do. Everyone else was silent, with their hands folded in prayer, including my brother and my mom, but I just sat with my hands on my lap.
Once they put out the candles, they handed out little trinkets to everybody, including me, which I accepted on my knees, with both hands and a bow like everybody else. They sang again, but for a much lesser time than before. Then they brought in a goblet with water in it, and a fag of reeds. One of them, the one wearing glasses, got up and dipped the reeds into the water, then flicked the water onto everybody while muttering a prayer. Then he chose me to carry the goblet for him as he flicked the water around Tai and Mike's side of the house. After that, we went out the front door, where he motioned for me to stay, either because he wasn't supposed to speak to me or because he didn't know the right words, and he went back inside. He returned with a small decorative cup full of white paint.
He started finger-painting a Buddhist symbol above the doorway, which I initially thought was some Thai letter, but he went on and on and on with it, making it more and more elaborate. When he was finally done with this big symbol, he put three dots in a triangle near the bottom. He kept his finger on the topmost dot and stood there muttering another prayer for about ten minutes. Then he stuck squares of gold leaf on the dots. Finally, he flicked water onto the painting and went back inside, where I followed him.
I put the goblet down and took a seat.
Then I finished my Pepsi.
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