21 July 2022

Do Buddhist Monks Play The Lotto?

 As frequent readers of my rotation in this blog (BOTH of them!*rimshot*) may recall, last time around my post was about the broader subject of writing believable fiction based on unlikely-yet-actual real life events. The more immediate subject was my long and on-going adventure in sharing a name with someone in my area whom I've never met, but whose path and my own continue to cross.

For this week's blog post I planned to expand on the broader subject above, but up until around Noon today, I had not gotten much traction. At the time I was driving home from running an errand, and since it was a hot, clear day, I stopped to get a couple of bottles of water. And then....well....

Let me write it as if it's the opening scene of a novel.


The Buddhist monk who had smiled as he graciously held the Quik-E-Mart door open for me now stood in front of the convenience store's Lotto machine pumping in money like a retiree does coins at the nickel slots in an Indian casino.


Yeah, so that's pretty much what happened. Something you don't see every day (or, in my own case, ever before). I walked up to the convenience store's front door, and the smiling man in saffron who got there right in front of me held it for me. I thanked him, went to get a couple of bottles of water, paid for them and left.

As I hit the door the distinctive color of the monk's robes drew my eye, and that was when I noticed him playing the Lotto. I slowed down to watch as I passed the glass walled front of the building. And this monk wasn't just playing the Lotto. As I said above, he was dumping money into the machine.

And I marveled at the incongruity of it as I walked back to my truck, thinking, "Do Buddhist monks actually play the Lotto?"

As I drove home I played out in my head the possible explanations for what I had just seen. Some of the ones I came up with:

"Secret gambling problem?"

"Gambling problem the reason for joining the Brotherhood, and what I witnessed was some sort of relapse?"

"Lotto an investment in the state's infrastructure?"

"Performing an act of kindness for a constituent who is too ill to pick up their weekly supply of Lotto tickets?"

And then I circled back to the notion of a secret gambling addiction being given an outlet by playing the Lotto and I asked myself, "What if he wins?" I tried to picture the man I had just seen smiling for the cameras, saffron robes, oversized Lotto check and all.

This thought led me wonder whether such a man, having won, possibly being unable to publicly claim his reward, might need to find someone else to claim the check, what that might look like, and how many different ways were there for it to go sideways?

And then another thought struck me out of the blue: "What if the gentleman in question wasn't a monk at all, but someone who, for some reason, simply dressed as one?" Which question in turn led to another: "What was this non-monk-in-monk's-clothing doing that he need to disguise himself as a monk in the first place? And why not change before heading home? Or was he stopping to hit the Lotto on his way to do this as-yet-unknown-thing-which-required-him-to-dress-like-a-Buddhist-monk?"

Which, of course, led to more questions and still more questions and more, and more, and more....

A rough approximation of where it all began.

And just like that I've got the beginnings of a plot. And at least one awfully compelling character. Beginnings are wonderful things. And the rest? It'll be a ton of fun to work the rest of it out.

And all because I stopped for a couple of bottles of water on a hot, clear day.

See you in two weeks!

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