Coming up with a title for tonight’s entry was a bit of a challenge. I was thinking of calling it, “I’m Unbelievably Uncertain that Nothing Makes Sense,” but I decided to err on the side of ambiguity, which I thought might give the title a more positive flavor.
I confess I’m a tad flummoxed, as I was thwarted once again today by my wife, Jina, an irrepressible born-again Christian, who had it in her to complain about a lack of “etiquette” (her word) from younger Korean passengers on the bus we were taking home that they couldn’t get a seat, when she had one, as if they were trying to guilt-trip her into relinquishing her prized sedentary status, even though it was qualified by her having to support both her own and my backpack on her lap, as I stood, pushing the strap I was holding into the bar so it wouldn’t continually knock me on the head with the lurching of the bus.
But that’s not the thing she said that irked me. It was a comment she made a few hours earlier while I was stuffing my face with dolsot bulgogi bibimbap (grilled beef, vegetables, and rice in a hot stone pot) in the shopping mall where we were dining after I got through with an auspicious job interview. Please keep in mind that Jina is an abject fanatic who has gotten so devout that she listens to sermons through her earbuds while traveling around in public, even when she’s with me (I guess the pastor whose sermon she’s tuning into is just more dynamic than I am, and that this kind of behavior constitutes the epitome of etiquette).
I’m grateful to her for helping me find the place where I had a job interview today, the pants of my suit not fitting as well as they did a few months ago; in fact, I even undid the clasp behind the upside-down belt buckle her father had given me as a present (it turns out that it’s emblazoned with Christian propaganda, but luckily the letters are too small to be deciphered by anyone apart from a person inordinately intrigued by my genitals, or perceived lack thereof during their chaste, shriveled slumber).
While on the subject of a lack of genitals, I’d also donned my Rick Santorumesque sweater-vest under the suit so that my tie would be more visible under the V-shaped front, but I’d still be able to fend off the cold.
The woman who interviewed me was stunningly beautiful (of course), and I felt like telling her so but decided I’d better not in case it squelched my chance of getting a job. She also sounded willing to hire me, even though there’s still another interview with a Korean male I have to go through as a formality, perhaps to make sure I’m cognizant of the Korean alphabet, but I’m guessing I’ll be a shoe-in since I’m masochistic enough to be the only one applying for a position that’s an hour a way from where I live; it’s an hour-long business class teaching Korean business executives; and the class is at seven in the morning.
This means I’ll have to get up at 5:30 am four times a week, which will feel like old times, since I did so for four-plus years while working for a couple of amoral, ruthless Korean language schools that forced their foreign English teachers to work grotesquely barbaric split shifts (to give you an idea of what that entailed, imagine teaching from 7 to 12, taking a break until 6 or 8, then teaching for a few hours until 9 or 10 pm; this is par for the course for a lot of English teachers in Seoul; and it also changes from month to month; beginning teachers often have triple splits, so they don’t have time to go home and take a badly-needed nap).
Anyway, Jina, who has been constantly bombarding me with the merits of turning my life and brain over to Mr. JFC (Jesus Fucking Christ), with increasing frequency over the past year or so, told me when I ventured to remark that the Buddha said that human suffering derives from attachment:
“Buddha’s in hell now.”
Since Buddhism isn’t generally the province of fanatics, and arguing with a hell-bent lunatic is always a waste of time, I continued eating my lunch and nodded without making eye contact, muttering that that wasn’t true. This might sound like an admission of defeat to you, but you have to understand that I’m dealing with someone whose conviction of her own veracity is airtight, even though she also constantly fears being indoctrinated by outside forces of religious thought.
I even mentioned at some point in this interminable argument (although I think it was this morning, while we were lying in bed, that Jesus may well have never even existed, God bless him).
Anyway, the moral of the story, if there is one, is that a man shouldn’t get married unless he’s absolutely crazy about the woman in question. As a man, I can’t speak from a woman’s point of view, but I imagine the same would apply for her. Then again, it might be a good idea to confirm that your prospective spouse feels as feverishly committed as you do, and that this feeling endures over a considerable length of time–perhaps even a year or more–so that there are no rude awakenings after you go through the shlocky bullshit of the overpriced wedding.
As someone who’s been involved in a mixed bag of a relationship and marriage for the past ten years or so, I have no idea what marital bliss feels like, although I’m told that it is a state of mind that does exist between some couples. I know that the grass is always greener and all that, but from my current position, being a free-wheeling bachelor sounds like a great deal to me, even if it did include harrowing phases of loneliness between romantic interludes.
It also strikes me that there are just too goddamned many amazing women on earth to settle for one for the rest of your life (from a woman’s point of view, settling for a husband must feel easy, considering how unimpressive we men are, apart from the lowering of your self-esteem in saddling yourself to a zhlub). And if your wife is going to keep you guessing by regularly declaring how much she loves you while simultaneously manifesting no physical attraction to you whatsoever, you’ve got to question either the intelligence or sanity of hitching your wagon to such a doubtful specimen, and then breeding to boot.
One consolation about the fact that the world appears to be on its way to some ineluctable cataclysm is that it means that those of us who are ambivalent about reproducing in the first place can say, “To hell with having kids; let’s have some fun for a change.”
Of course, from Jina’s point of view, the people she loves, including me, have to vote for Jesus now or else spend eternity basking in a baby pool of flames. How different is that from Kim Jong un’s wacky messianic shenanigans?
My guess is that whatever Jesus’ current status, he would have wanted people to be happy, not to argue, to love one another, and to do whatever they had to to make their lives work. Whether that entailed believing that he was the all-knowing, all-swell, master of the universe was another matter altogether.
And you can convert that paragraph to the present tense if it makes you feel any better. I doubt Jesus gives (or would give, or would have given) a damn either way.