The land of the not quite right.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The other day, I had a fight with a Korean man.

It wasn't a huge fight, but it got me a little peeved. Especially since it wasn't even my fault ( but the incident could have been avoided if I heeded a wee bit of foresight.) Oh, well, so it goes.

Wednesday night, I had a party on my porch under the black trash bag weaved tapestry. You see I live on the roof of an apartment complex in a what looks like a little aluminum box. Actually, you know the holding cars on the backs of 18 wheelers? Yeah, that's kinda what I live it. It's divided up into three different compartments and they threw three doors on the front. Inside it is like a little studio apartment you could get in like New York city or something. It doesn't have a stove- instead I have a little propane powered campfire grill, a little sink that groans with the collected weight of plates- held to the wall by the water pipe, oh and I huge full sized refrigerator. It is the irony of my apartment, actually we don't even call it an apartment, it's too depressing. Compartment is more like it. We, Cynthia a fellow teacher, and I like to call it our tent. When you think of the compartment as a tent, then it ain't so depressing anymore.

My tent has like heated floors, air conditioning, screen windows, a full sized refrigerator, television, internet, and a bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. When you consider it inside of a tent it's like a luxurious extravagance until you actually get inside. It is a room with a sink, a toilet and a mirror. There is no shower to speak of. There is a showerhead on the wall that is heated by propane. In the winter this miniscule stream of urine temperature water is not sufficient to wash a grown man while defrosting the ice that forms around his toes. It could be worse. I mean the sheiks of Arabia don't have a shower head in their tent after all.

So I had a party the other night and we had about 12 people here all drinking Soju (which is a Korean form of rubbing alcohol, but hey it only costs a dollar and one bottle is all it takes to get one nice and toasty) and beer. We talked about our Korean experience and I lost the "apartment-off" as the other foreign English teachers talked about their tents. Many of their tents didn't even have a kitchen sink or even an air conditioner. The air conditioner was the clincher in my defeat. I have like a pop-up trailer while everyone else hovels in little nylon doo-das.

As the night carried on, I brushed upon many topics. I think it started with how Koreans don't flush their toilet paper (they put in a trashcan next to the can), and ended with one guy pondering how hard one would have to fuck a girl to make her ovaries burst. That one closed down the house and nobody asked for an encore.

Oh, let me segueway to a little side story. Raimi, a rotund Canadian that is a huge tech guy came to my party and told one of his ridiculously dry, jokes. This is the joke that would cause me to be threatened with a pair of scissors by a very seriously alienated New Zealand Kiwi, bent on destruction the next day.

"So, I was drinking absinthe the other night," he said with a straight face and no indication of a joke in his voice.

"Absinthe?" one of the Koreans attending the party asked.

"Yeah, Absinthe, it's the green alcohol you see drinking on Moulin Rouge. It's like a hallucinogen." he answered.

"Hallucinogen?" the Korean said perplexed.

We all knew this could go on all night and honestly nobody wanted to teach English to Koreans at this point in the night. We just let it slide.

"So, I was drinking Absinthe the other night."

"Where did you get the Absinthe." Neil the drug starved Canadian asked feigningly.

"One of my French friends smuggled it in in a shampoo bottle."

"Is there any left?"

"No, I used the last of it the other day to wash my pubic hair." Raimi answered already realizing where Neil was going with this.

"So I was drinking Absinthe the other day and then the next day I realized that I had a really bad case of gas. I mean it was really really bad and I realized it was making a very strange sound. Kinda like 'FONDA.' So I had to teach in a couple hours, so I'm really worried about this 'cause it's kind embarrassing. I mean it wasn't a stinky fart or anything, it was just the noise, 'FONDA. FONDA.' So I called my French friend to ask if he had the same problem and he said, "Absinthe makes your farts go Fonda? Absinthe makes your farts go Fonda?" And then I realized that yes it does, 'Absinthe makes your farts go fonda.'"

It took a second until the joke sunk in and many of us let out a groan and a forced ha ha.

"Absinthe makes your farts go fonda?" the Korean asked.

"It's supposed to be like an English saying we have. Absence makes your heart grow fonder." I explained to the Korean.

"Is that supposed to be funny?" the Korean person said.

"No, I answered. Raimi you're a schmuck." I said.

That was the phrase the next day that would get me threatened by the very reserved Kiwi in the breakroom. Because his name is Charlie, he confused Raimi with his name and so he thought I had called him a schmuck. Now I wouldn't call him a schmuck. A introverted, ticking time bomb of postal action, sure, but not a schmuck. I didn't think enough of him to try and explain it to him. He had just gotten fired that day from the language institute we all work at for being a mumbling, unhappy, brown stain on the panties of our happy hagwon.

Oh, about the fight. Anyway, stupid drug feigning Neil decided because he couldn't get high off of unconvential drugs decided to dose himself a bit of mischief by putting a ceramic flowerpot precariously on a sign above the street and over CARS on the street. The next day, a nice northwesterly breeze rocked the sign a bit and it fell off and landed in the motorcycle basket of a parked motorcycle the next day. Amazingly the flowerpot hadn't broken, but the motorcyclist was a little peeved because it potentially could have ruined his day. He rushed up to our landing and beat on the three doors of our tent like the big bad wolf. I'm pretty sure the translated Korean of his ranting and raving was something like, "Hey fuckhead, get the fuck out of your little tents so I can punch you in the kidney for trying to drop a flowerpot on my head you fucking shit, cunt, motherfucker." My Korean isn't very good, but I'm very perceptive. I was hoping to wait it out, but it was a siege and I knew the longer I waited it, the more it would confirm my guilt.

So I went out.

Outside was this Korean guy, about forty or so, brown faced and skinny, wearing a pair of dark brown corduroy pants and a red and black plaid shirt that looked like it came from a era and and a time far, far away. Oh, and a bright yellow hat, if the clash wasn't enough, he had a bright yellow construction yellow hat. He proceeded to yell at me, waving the pot in my face and getting really, really close to my face. I mean I could smell the kim chi on his breath and that ain't anything pleasant. I said, "Chaesong Hamnida, Chaesong Hamnida" over and over hoping to calm him down, but like my knowledge of the Korean language is minimal so trying to explain to him was like out of the question.

So I said to him, "Chaesong Hamnida, Muragessumikka, Cha nun wei guk en imnida." I told him I don't understand, that I was a foreigner.

"Wei?" he said, shocked.

"Cha nun Jae mi gyo po." which means, I am a Korean born in America.

After that his fury calmed and a look of confused embarrassment filled his face. He tried to mime to me what had happened and I mimed I didn't know anything about it. I then pulled out my wallet and handed him a ten thousand won note (which is about 10 dollars), but he refused to take it. Wanting no hard feelings I offered it again. He took it. He said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Thank you, Thank you." He shook my hand and left the landing.

Money. The international language.

Oh, like I said, this could have been avoided because Cynthia told me at work that Neil the asshole had put the flowerpot on the sign and suggested we take it down. I cast it off as a no bother, I figured I could get to it later.

Just another adventure in the land of the not quite right.

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