The other night I had a dream in which I broke up with Richard Gere. Apparently, we were in a serious relationship – I even got to touch his hair (swoon) – but I had no choice. I had to end things between us.
Before I get into the dream analysis, perhaps I need to give a little back story. I may have what some might call a mild obsession with Richard Gere. Nothing extreme – I don’t stalk him, I don’t hang out around his home in the Village or his restaurant upstate, and he has never had to take out any restraining orders on me. I’m just one of his biggest fans. That’s all, I swear.
So my office is decorated with multiple posters of him – hey, he’s done a lot of psych movies! It’s relevant to my discipline. I’ve had social psychology students analyze Chicago for its many themes of sexism, discrimination, influencing a jury and more. I’ve had abnormal psychology students watch Primal Fear to learn about dissociative identity disorder and malingering, Mr. Jones for bipolar disorder and Final Analysis for its Freudian content.
When teaching about erotomanic delusional disorder (where people think they have a special relationship with someone when in fact, no relationship exists), I used to explain it to my students by saying that IF I had this delusional disorder, I might think that Richard Gere was sending me hidden messages in his movies. I used to do such a good job at this example that some of my students questioned whether I really thought that his holding up three fingers in a scene of Chicago meant I should meet him at 3:00.
Word of my teaching examples got around enough that my coworkers began teasing me, telling me that I had phone messages from Richard Gere and one professor superimposed my face over a picture of some woman Richard was standing next to in a newspaper photo and framed it as a gift to me. If you look at the comments past students have left about me on Rate My Professor.com, you might see suggestions to mention Richard (and my dog) to get on my good side.
What can I say? Richard Gere is a very handsome man. I wasn’t always a fan. He only got onto my radar when I saw Pretty Woman. Maybe it was the fairy tale movie (I’ve been a big Julia Roberts fan too since then) but I really think it was his hair.
I have a thing for men with silver or graying hair. When The Hunt for Red October came out, I barely noticed Alec Baldwin because of Sean Connery. Alec Baldwin lost my attention again when he co-starred with Anthony Hopkins in The Edge. And I haven’t been a Law & Order fan all these years just for the drama. Sam Waterston can prosecute me any day!
But of all the silver foxes out there, Richard Gere holds a special place in my heart. And it’s not just his acting because I haven’t even seen all of his movies (even since he went gray). He’s an accomplished pianist, composer, singer, dancer, photographer and author. I love his voice and the way his eyes blink a lot. All that is true but it’s also true that he’s a humanitarian.
He founded NYC’s Tibet House, a non-profit institution devoted to preserving the living culture of Tibet. It’s because of Richard Gere that I became interested in Buddhism and the plight of the Tibetan people. I even listened to The Tibetan Book of the Dead on tape. He is a longtime supporter of human rights, AIDS research, and prisoners’ rights. He is involved with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the AIDS Research Alliance.
Richard Gere has also been working with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans for Vegetarian Society to turn Bodh Gaya, the town in India where Buddha is believed to have first attained Nirvana, into a vegetarian zone. Tibetans for Vegetarian Society “asks people to abstain from buying, selling, or consuming any form of meat during their pilgrimage tour in the holy land.”
Richard Gere is all of these things but there is one thing he’s not: a Vegan. He’s not even vegetarian. There are gazillions of rumors that because he’s Buddhist, he’s a vegetarian but they are not true. He, himself, cleared up those rumors on a television talk show, saying that while he gave up red meat decades ago, he is NOT a vegetarian. For that matter, neither is the Dalai Lama. That surprised me until I did some research on Buddhism and learned that many of the schools of Buddhism do NOT require vegetarianism.
In fact, the restaurant owned by Richard Gere, The Farmhouse at Bedford Post, serves not only meat but foie gras. It was just reviewed by the New York Times and is a frequent haunt of Martha Stewart’s. This saddens me to no end.
Back to the dream. I remember the first time I had a dream in which I was Vegan. I was so happy because it felt like my Veganism had truly become a part of me, an ingrained part of my identity. Since then I’ve had dreams where I eat something and then panic that what I just ate wasn’t Vegan or dreams where I refuse food because it’s not Vegan. Since becoming a Vegan, I have never had a dream where I have eaten animal products and that makes me ecstatic, both consciously and subconsciously.
In this dream, Richard and I were arguing. I wanted him to give up chicken and he didn’t want to. And even though it deeply upset me, I told him that he did not have to become a Vegan for me. He didn’t have to learn to like tofu. But that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted me to eat the chicken. He wanted me to give up Veganism. It was him or the tofu. I had to make a decision.
I looked deeply into his eyes, swept his hair off his forehead (ala Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were) and I chose the tofu. There was nothing else I could do. I could never give up Veganism. Not even for Richard. Sigh…
So I guess I will just have to do with my fantasies of the perfect Richard Gere – the ones where he is handsome, single, an accomplished artist, a humanitarian and a Vegan. Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll decide that living a cruelty-free life is the right thing to do, for him and his restaurant. Then he can call me and I might reconsider.
Hey, a Vegan girl can dream, can’t she?