A Post My Future Wife Will Enjoy

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I didn’t write enough this weekend so I cancelled my date tonight. A Florida state school grad; that is all you need to know. Dinner and drinks after, within stumbling distance of her apartment…I mean, come on. We’ve read this story before. I would have been in by now. Right this very second. She’s 29 but a good 29. Minimal sun damage for a Miami Beach girl. A face that speaks of trophy wives in the bloodline, probably all the way up the chain back to the robber baron era. Now I feel gay for not going tonight.

But it’s not just so I could write. Don’t go, don’t do this, I told myself. You know yourself and you only ever do one thing. Don’t go do that one thing, where you tell a girl with wearing tasteful peach lipstick the right lies in the right order, like you’re Method-acting the role of a campaigning politician, and install her in a harem she doesn’t know she’s a part of. To check off the “Florida” box on the wall-sized Bingo Poster in your head. Then continue to lie to her until you stack your house of cards too high and your Mrs. Doubtfire dinner scene double-booking tricks blow up in your face. At which point you cackle over your shoulder and run away with your jacket flapping in the night wind. Don’t do that, it has never made you happy so far.

Well OK. I am trying to be less of a demon. In case karma turns out to be real. Trying to consider other people and their wants and their sensibilities. This does not come naturally to me.

I’ll stay in tonight. The me from two weeks ago, he would have gone for it, and the me two weeks from now might still. Maybe, maybe not. When you exist outside of fiction you forget most of the lessons you learn. Changes are easily reversed by the passage of time.

Either way, staying in is the right move. I have the book and the blog. I get drunk and tell people that I write, so I should sit down and justify it.

But wait: I would have been in by now. Shit, where’s my phone. I hope it’s not too late.

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Thursday

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At school. This day is pristine; you grind through a cycle long enough and eventually you’re gonna start to fucking nail it. I’m sharp today. I feel like I can run through a brick wall. 370 days in Korea before I started to crush it. What does that say about my intelligence, that it takes me 370 tries to get something right. Good God. Anyway, the morning has been just goddamn enchanting, with dagger-nosed sparrows Crouching Tiger-fighting over the shrubs on my walk to school. Dueling over an apple core or sparrow pussy or whatever. Now there WAS one class of duds just before lunch, future taxi drivers and 7-11 clerks…I swear these kids are actually Samsung robots who have their memories wiped every night. This makes teaching feel like pushing a thousand pounds of cooked spaghetti up a mountainside. Middle-schoolers, some of have just turned racist for the first time and just squint lasers at the white giant. They think: what the fuck is this foreigner doing in my classroom, telling me how to speak his language. I already have a language. One’s enough.

Hey, there’s that teacher—I forget her name—and she’s 47 years old but looks 32 and when she wears skirts it’s a legitimate distraction. Skirt today. A long, hip-swaying stride—but only on skirt day. You foxy tart. This is why I have to write under a fake name. You minx. You aware of what you’re doing. You know you have a gift that is rare among your people, an extra soft inch on the thighs. She always blinks slowly, like her lashes are incredibly heavy or she’s just had a volcanic, blood-bubbling orgasm and is fighting the opiate of sleep. I am never leaving Asia. She gave me two wafer cookies today and I said thank you in Korean (감사합니다) and that allowed us to share a chuckle. So easy. Then I gave them to Ham because he’s fat and I’m not and I am one week away from my very first six-pack ever. If I paused pizza and beer for seven days I’d have it. So that means I’ll never have it. Anyway.

I found a teacher’s bathroom on the second floor that no one told me about. Fuckers. A CEO could use it and think, yeah, that’s a good bathroom. There is even toilet paper in the stalls. This is a rarity in Asia because poor people steal it out of public restrooms. You have to carry your own around because you encounter a stocked bathroom as often as you find $5 lying on the sidewalk. But this toilet paper, I think it’s double-ply. Shangri-la, motherfuckers.

Back in the office, a free period now. Swan dive into the internet. Join the rest of you. Why not have a one-sided conversation on the blog; there are no other foreigners within ten football fields of this place. You ruminate on this fact at random times. You and your alien status. Like the one last Jew in Berlin the SS hasn’t picked up yet.

Anyway, here you go. This is a Thursday in Korea. Now back to class.

One Year in Korea

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This is what it’s like. It’s the Ireland of Asia here. People know how to do business on the bottle. Married Korean men are called ajeossis and they have alcohol poisoning by 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and dodder into the street. I’ve pulled a few out of the way of busses. Ajummas are the old ladies. Many are hunchbacked. Human prunes. They never smile. You could look for a happy ajumma until the sun burns out. Well I would hate to be that old too.

You see some North Korean refugees in Seoul. Their limbs are too short. And you can tell just by looking at someone that they don’t have their social toolbox in order. The wrong plugs in the wrong sockets. Gulags don’t really produce the hippest of cats. They had to get all the way through China and down into Laos to get here, because China will send North Koreans back if they catch them. Fucking China.

So what is it like, being here. All day I try to keep it light. My students are midway through the Bataan Death March that is the Korean education system. They’re perpetually strung-out and twitchy like they’re duct-taped into suicide bomber vests and someone else has the detonator. I’m their Patch Adams. After class 13 year-old girls tackle me in the hallways and make kissy-faces. Totally cool here. Other teachers chuckle as they observe this. So this is life as a Backstreet Boy. Pedophiles want to be me.

Caveman-level English and physical comedy. In another time I’d have been a court jester. Perfect for a dumb guy like me. And I am dumb–I’m  6’7” and I don’t play basketball. There is a me in an alternate universe who has a Timberwolves contract with $18 million in guaranteed money. He gets blown in his infinity pool under the starlight and wonders what life would be like if he never shot 3s. Well, sir, you live in Korea and have a blog no one reads, that’s what life is like.

So, the weekend. All the sleep of a rock star, but with none of the drugs. Got my contract re-signing bonus—guaranteed money—and Seoul is your typical Asian metropolis: goddamn Vice City. No open container laws. You just get into a taxi with a beer in your hand.

The money. A lesser man would go fuck some hookers. But I prefer to objectify women who are not hookers. Not that I want to—my mother raised me right and I have three little sisters—but I hear that’s what writers are supposed to do. If you want to leave hackville and get on a different level. So, let’s get on with it.

What I should do is: stay in and finish that Terry Pratchett and then write an extra thousand words on Saturday night. And if I still lived in the Seacoast that’s what I would do. But life here is simply not real. You go out on the weekends and there are only like eight other guys out and four of them are wearing baggy flannel which is the same thing as stamping I Hate Pussy, Please Don’t Talk To Me on their foreheads. I could program my own Matrix to live in and I wouldn’t change a thing. I was called a dick this weekend, on Saturday night. A girl was mad that I stopped responding to her. Even though her last message was essentially a “fuck off.” Princess. She’s used to groveling. So it felt really nice—I would have programmed that in, too. This never used to happen. Up next on the bingo card is a drink to the face. Or does that only happen in movies.

One year. I drink less than I used to. I can play guitar and do four dead-hang pullups now; it used to be zero. And that’s with two hours in the gym three times a week. Fucking hell, man. Well, I’m large, I’m heavy. I don’t watch TV and have read thirty books since I got here. I’m a little more funny and a bare smidge more confident. At this rate I’ll be the person I actually want to be by the time I’m 50, but by that point who the fuck cares.

The sky is just apocalyptic. Yellow dust from China, because China doesn’t give a fuck. China’s factories are cranking around the clock like Sauron assembling his war machine at Isengard. But it’s a whole country full of Isengards. Yellow dust and nanoparticles. It’s going to kill billions. If this were a movie then everyone on the Asian continent would have superpowers. Which one would I get. Yellow dust. I went out riding in it this weekend. Two hours on Friday and another two on Saturday. Mashing pedals until you’ve got not an atom of glycogen left and your RPMs get critical. You ride on the canal past Gimpo International and the 767s take off so close the landing gear could skim your helmet. Their engines shake your handlebars.

Friday night my thighs locked up and I couldn’t extend my legs anymore. I lay on a long hill next to a bus stop and looked down at the Han River, with the light show on the bridge. The city around me was mighty. Shining with a hundred million watts. Sometimes things are perfectly in balance. So any change would therefore be a negative. Be undesirable.

A good moment to go out, if I had to pick one. I’m not saying I want to die. Not at all. But if the North finally flexed and pressed the red button and the bomb was falling I wouldn’t rush out of the crosshairs. We’re going over the cliff anyway. TIME says we’ll be out of clean water by 2030. Ted Cruz is going to be president. Robots will do your job. Fucking hell, man. But the nuclear blast flash-boils the water in your brain and you die in a tenth of a second. You won’t even have time to think: holy shit, I’m about to die.

But it won’t happen. I have to get old and watch everything devolve. Watch the machine crumble and break. Because Kim jong-un is a big fat pussy.

Now Write a Blog Post

But I don’t want to; it takes too much time. And I have legitimately important shit to do. I have to file my taxes to pay for my government to kill goatherds. And I have actual stories to work on. Yes but – if you don’t blog then no one will ever know you and won’t even sell enough books to buy a Tootsie Roll.

But the tit is dry today. Every interesting thought I have ever had thus far is already on the blog. And just yesterday I wrote something people liked, I can coast on that one for a bit. Yes but – actually no you can’t. The Future is here and if you dare to exist in the present then you are already too late. Create exposure. Curate your online presence. Shotgun something into the digital landfill. But for what. The internet is always blackout drunk. Three minutes from now it won’t even remember seeing me.

Welcome to the Future; maintain an attractive blog. Update frequently with high-quality content so your readership will grow. Well fuck you, how about that. Michelangelo didn’t have to paint three chapels a week. But imagine if he had. His output would make my students’ finger paintings look like the Sistine Chapel.

Obligatory Post Because It’s Been Four Days Since the Last One

I have no idea what this white guy is saying.
I have no idea what this white guy is saying.

The weekend on fast-forward: pretend on Saturday morning that I have an appointment around noon so I can escort the girl to the bus. Put on a belt and carry the messenger bag to really sell it. Then go right back to the villa, change, and hit the gym. Café after that to line up a few hundred words.

Then there’s a large party in Seoul. Starts with a dinner before all the green beer. Schmoozing. God, just hang on for dear life. First impressions are hard when you’re naturally uncool. First impressions are harder when you’ve cut back on drinking. Alcohol is game in a bottle. But I don’t need it to mingle, I think. I can do this, I can pretend to be interesting. I prep for these things like a presidential debate and roll up to the scene late with a few stories locked and loaded. Sometimes I steal them from friends back home. Then I steal stories from people here and pass them off as my own to my friends back home. Everybody wins.

We swarm the bars after. It’s the new year and legions of rookie foreigners have washed in on the tides. Platoons of 20 year-old American soldiers who behave like primates. White girls from Canada and South Africa and Ireland. And white guys. Trendy motherfuckers who wear scarves even when it’s hot. These people come talk to me because I’m 6’7”. Sorry to bother you man. But I just had to ask, like, wow: how tall are you. And do you play basketball. Every time I meet someone for the first time we talk about my height. I’ve forgotten how else to begin an interaction.

When I’m out I have a rep as Suit Guy, because I always wear a blazer and pocket square. I’m so consistent with it that I’m not even a human being anymore, I’m a sitcom character. People must think a gypsy has cursed me to never dress down. Shit, maybe one has. Either way, now I can’t not wear one out on the weekends because it always works. All single men are stupid for not copying me. How do you ignore a scorched earth tactic like this. That would be like ditching the 747 for the horse and buggy. God I am such a douchebag.

The night is a swirl and fairly magical. The whole cast of characters is present. I get with a girl from last weekend from Canada. My friend sees us talking and whispers that he’s banged her before, a while back. I still take her home though; it’s getting late and I’ve already put too many eggs into that basket. The logic is a lot more valid before sunrise. I don’t tell her that I know. I can be a considerate person and let someone else feel like a player sometimes. You go girl. See, character development.

And now: upshifting back into a full schedule. It’s the second week back after vacation. Readjusting to the higher gear is rough; the cherry must be re-popped. Mondays are humbling. They feel like you’re marching into some strange wilderness with ox skulls scattered around. I will probably die on a Monday. I hope so. I’ll be pissed if I die on a Thursday, right before the weekend starts.

Snapshot: The Korean Workplace

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And now I’m in the office at my Korean middle school. Good afternoon. I have some observations I would like to share with you. Pictured above is a man named Ham. He teaches technology and he told me that when I pick a wife I should select her based on the back of her head only, because that is mostly what you’ll be seeing in the bedroom as she gets older.

I’m very tired; staying vertical is proving difficult. I feel like a parade float losing helium. I’ve had enough coffee to wake the dead. But the students are definitely more tired. The clichés you hear of Korean parents ruthlessly pillaging every last second of their children’s free time in the name of academic competition are absolutely true. The students were young once, and alive. But tragedy and puberty come hand in hand here. Idealism totally disappears. A seventh-grade Korean student is a depressing sight. You feel sorry for them like they’re refugees. Still, they won’t answer basic questions in class, like they all make a blood pact right before I walk in that they will not say a word. This gets frustrating. Their silence sucks all the energy out of you. It makes me wish they all wore shock collars.

Lunch of kimchi and pork cutlet just concluded and Maroon 5 is playing in the hallways. Whenever I bow to a co-worker I imagine we are head-butting each other in slow motion. They would probably like to do it in fast-motion. Most of them don’t like me. I think they hate me because my job is so easy. It’s true, it is. I am paid to be white and speak English. English is my native tongue. I might as well have a job breathing or walking in a straight line.

At least Ham seems to like me. He actually just woke up from his nap and saw me inserting his photo into this post. There is really nothing in the world more awkward than that situation. But he just laughed. This is probably not the first time this has happened to him. I like working here.

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