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Fatal Attraction--Part 1

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player is needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so to not listen, mute your speakers.)

[February 12th was my 48th anniversary of moving into the temple as a single monastic (brahmacari) and officially taking up the process of bhakti, or pure devotional service. To honor my spiritual journey on the way to Krishna, I thought I would repost this 5 part series about my life before taking up Krishna consciousness and how it led to my existential crisis and spiritual search. Since these are blogs, I have greatly condensed the material.] Pattrica Ann Bailey stared mindlessly at the passing scenery as she sat in the moving train. She felt relaxed and glad to be away from Chicago and what seemed like a fixed future. In fact, the more miles away from the “Windy City,” the better she felt. While a fiercely independent and critically intelligent young woman, she couldn’t stand up to her mother Peg—still, after all these years! Patt (with two t’s please) had joined the Navy during the Second World War to escape her mom’s watchful eye, and even married, but then, after only a year she had to get a divorce. Her—now X—husband shocked her by revealing that he liked men better than girls and had no feelings for her. Thus, she was forced to return home in shame.

Although she had a very high IQ, Patt could be impulsive and over emotional at times. Thus her mom had never quite trusted her decisions, and was worried about her future. To “help” her daughter make a better choice in picking men, she invited a good looking, wealthy, navy captain over for dinner. He was nice enough Patt had thought at first and so they began dating. Before she knew it she was engaged, which she had agreed to do at the insistence of her mom. And the major problem was not only that she didn’t love him, but as she shared years later, “He was boooor-iiiiiing,” and Patt had a weakness for exciting men and doing fun things her mother didn’t approve of.

So here she was, traveling alone, but engaged to a ho-hum guy, with a marriage date set, on her way to California. Somehow she convinced her mom that she needed a break after college, and so somewhat reluctantly Peg had arranged for her to stay with a family friend, Faye Bonnetti, who had many social connections. Now that sounded like a refreshing change from being with the “Admiral” as she disparaging called her fiancée. Patt knew she shouldn’t marry this guy though didn’t know how she could get out of it—but she tried not to think of this and instead focused on what promised to be an exciting two weeks.

After his stint in the army as an airplane welder in England, John La Due Cox had never been able to find his place back in San Diego, and so he moved to L.A. to find another life and get away from his mother. He lived near his cousin Faye and her family. Faye was a social worker, and had known John since he was born. She loved him and wanted to help, yet he remained a troubled young man. John found his cousin easy to talk with, and loved speaking to her about his life and introducing her to his latest love interest—which was a frequent occurrence since he wasn’t able to find a lasting relationship.

John never realized that he was attracted to strong women like his mother, whom he would inevitably resent and become angry with. For this reason Faye was a bit reluctant to invite him to her party—not that she thought he wouldn’t fit it—but mainly thinking about the young women who were coming that might be disappointed by him. Never the less, she invited him, with the hope that it might do him some good by getting him out of his gloomy mood—and he could be a fun, entertaining person to have around, if he didn’t drink too much, or lose his temper.

John’s parents had married late in life—his father, Harry, was sixty, his mom, Marie, forty when they tied the knot. As it turned out his dad’s health was poor and he died ten years later when he was seventy and John almost ten. John had watched his father die, and this had been a very traumatic experience. Unfortunately, no one spoke to him about what had happened, and it left an indelible, frightening, impression on him. He missed his dad, and living with his mom was extremely challenging. Marie was ahead of her time working on a newspaper in Colorado Springs, CO. as a reporter, and also teaching English. She was a strong assertive woman, and had high academic expectations for her son, who she observed had good intelligence, great potential. However, John was mainly intimidated by her, and not inspired. After moving to San Diego John had become a bit of a juvenile delinquent and ran away from home a few times. Being in the military had been good for him, but now he seemed adrift.

Faye’s Saturday night party felt like a dud to Patt. Most of the people knew one another and were sitting around in groups talking softly, while Patt talked to Faye’s son, who although interesting, was quite a bit younger than her. Suddenly the roar of a motorcycle could be heard through the open windows, and everyone stopped talking. A moment later, in walked Johnny, smoking a cigarette and wearing a black leather jacket. He looked around the room to assess the situation, took off his coat and threw it on a chair, walking over to some friends who enthusiastically greeted him.

Patt was amazed to see his dramatic entrance and presence fill the room. Her eyes were fixed on him and it seemed everything else in the room disappeared. He was so handsome with his combed-back black, wavy hair, and the confident way he carried himself. As Johnny walked over to the record player he glanced over at Patt and flashed his huge smile, raising one eyebrow. He had brought a stack of 78 records, and with his encouragement, everyone got to their feet, clearing a space for dancing. When the music started, the party began in full swing—literally, as he played swing music and rhythm and blues.

After dancing with some girls for a few songs, Johnny finally came over to talk to Patt. After introductions and small talk, he asked her if she wanted to dance. Fortunately, she had taken dance lessons and knew at least the basics of jitterbugging and other dances, so she joyfully agreed. As the evening flew by the chemistry between them increased and they seemed more and more entranced with one another. The sparks began to fly. No one knew that this was the performance of his life.

Although Faye didn’t serve alcohol at her social events, someone had spiked the punch, and John and Patt had been drinking freely, adding to their feelings for one another. They were laughing heartily, talking, dancing, and fully enjoying each other's company. Knowing them both, Faye was getting concerned at their mutual attraction, but what could she do? Late in the evening when people were leaving, John and some friends decided to go out for a bite to eat, perhaps going to a club, and naturally Patt joined them, not wanting the evening to end.

When they woke up in the morning, Johnny proposed to her, and she heard herself enthusiastically say yes. After breakfast, they drove to Reno, Nevada, and were married later in the day. Patt felt so happy at this turn of events, relieved that she didn’t have to marry the Admiral! The next day they drove back to LA and paid Faye a visit to tell her the good news. Hearing that this unlikely couple were now married after only one day of being together, Faye could not believe it, and thought they were joking. Realizing they were serious, it was all she could do to hide her shock. How could this have happened, and how could she tell Patt’s mom, Peg?

During the next two months Patt realized that she had a made a terrible mistake. The exciting, debonair Johnny, that she thought she married, had evaporated, like the will o' the wisp. In its place was an unmotivated, unemployed person, who seemed dedicated to drinking, laying around the house, and feeling sorry for himself. While she had found a job as a secretary, he only talked about looking for work—tomorrow, but that day never came.

Her friends told her to consider an annulment of her marriage, but then she found out she was pregnant—to which she didn’t know if she should be happy or sad, though at times she felt a sense of foreboding and dread. Being adopted herself Patt had never come to terms with being rejected by her birth mom. This made her question being a mother and raising a child. Regardless, with this new development she thought it wise to stay in the marriage and see if she could motivate John to find a job and help raise their child. Perhaps he would change. Telling Johnny she was pregnant got no verbal emotional response from him, though she thought she noticed him tearing up, but he turned away. However, it did get him off the couch to find employment--at least for awhile.

When the male child was born, Patt couldn’t hold him at first. Although Johnny never came home from work, Faye was with her at the hospital, and was the first person to hold the baby. Gradually, Faye cajoled and coaxed Patt to hold the baby, trying to convince her that eventually she would love him and enjoy being a mom. This was my welcome into the world and a condensed version of my parents meeting and marriage, and the beginning of my tumultuous upbringing, which, mixed with my past lives unfinished spiritual practice and the counter-culture of the ‘60’s, brought me again to the path of bhakti and the holy name of Krishna.

In upcoming parts of this series I will explore how studying our parent’s upbringing can give insights into their personalities and parenting styles—and thus our own—and can help us be kinder in our assessment of how we were raised. As children we are like sponges, absorbing so much from our folks. In many ways we are a composite of our parents, who are instruments of our karma, and from them we can learn great lessons in life—both how to act, and how not to act. While it is difficult enough to glean these lessons, it is much more difficult to change our habits, and yet this is part of the journey of becoming a better, less reactive person. Here is the link to part 2: