Dating in the NGO circus
The last guy I dated won my heart by bringing me peanut M&Ms and bagels. Forget the flowers, the NGO circus has its own notions of romance.
The kind of work I’m doing, and the kind of work my partner was doing creates some rather bizarre situations. We rode elephants on our dates, made pancakes in a wok, and watched baby goats on the side of the road. We cuddled as we watched Blood Diamonds with Thai subtitles in the home of another NGO couple, and discussed the humanitarian implications of engagement rings. We found creative, and often frustrating, ways to stay in touch while one or the both of us was located in a refugee camp or remote village with no cell phone reception.
I remember telling him the first time we had sex that I was afraid of some kind of ultra egalitarian politically correct something or other based on our shared humanitarian work. He laughed. We had both been steeped in the alt sex scene and this wasn’t about the goddess and the mother earth.
What I have found is that NGO workers by and large date other NGO workers. This makes sense…I think a man covered in a weeks worth of refugee camp dirt is sexy, other more reasonable people might fear leprosy. In all earnest though, the lives we live as humanitarian workers are strange, we are all a little crazy (some of us more than a little) we all have daily routines that make no sense to the average city dweller. It is nice not to worry about how you clean your vegetables because you’ve both been brushing your teeth with the tap water for months. It’s nice to be engrained in the same cultural space both with respect to expat communities and local communities. It’s nice not to have to defend your life choices to businessmen. And you know, how many other people do you know who think playing with a baby elephants is a nice relaxing date activity to be followed by a picnic?
Too bad kinky NGO workers seem to be hard to come by…