The funny thing about depression is that when you’re in its throes, you refuse to forgive people for the slightest things. You allow no possibility for the positive, and negatively assess everyone you see, beginning with yourself. Depression at its most pedestrian is a species of stupidity; believe me, i speak from experience.
You may be wondering about the ominous title I’ve chosen for this post. You’re not the only one. Wish I were here. Well, since it’s Sunday and time for our Bible studies class, suffice it to say it may not be amiss to bring back the tradition of the slaying of the first-born, at least when it comes to the little boy who lives across the street from me. Now that the spring has finally arrived, with toxic yellow dust wafting through the air (one of my students said you just get used to it; hey, I guess you can get used to cancer and lung disease too), people are spending more time outside, tearing themselves away from their computer terminals and TV screens to be alone with their smart phones.
The satanic vermin I’m referring to is about two feet tall; I’m guessing he’s probably roughly two years old–one foot of growth per year, sort of like a dandelion. Please bear in mind that I have nothing against children in general. I can put up with a certain amount of ungovernable young noise, having been a major generator of it myself throughout my life (though now the noise has gotten old). But this kid makes me contemplate homicide on a less than neighborly scale. Unseemly as it may seem to record such thoughts so shortly after the Boston tragedy, along with all the less widely-reported atrocities that have happened either before or since, his undiluted wailing and crying makes me wish I had a bow and arrow to give him something more pressing to bellyache about.
His parents appear to be AWOL; perhaps they’re trying to suffocate themselves by forcing condoms over their heads in a desperate act of penance. Yesterday, while hanging up my laundry, my nerves still freshly raw from having been chewed out by my wife Jina, who was blessedly absent at the time, preparing her high school English students for one of their innumerable sadistic exams, this little monster was in top form, bequeathing his formidable arsenal of sorrows to the world. Maybe he’s the reincarnation of someone slain in the My Lai massacre, or at Wounded Knee, and is therefore a bottomless repository of unending grief. Couldn’t tell you.
Having never actually laid eyes on the perpetrator of noise pollution before, I finally saw him standing on the cluttered stairway beside the apartment building where he lives and converts his supercilious suffering into the stuff of nightmares for everyone in the vicinity. He stood there like an Asian Charlie Brown, holding a cellphone, in profile. At first I wasn’t even sure he was the source of all that voluminous caterwauling. He was momentarily pensive, enjoying and, yes–sharing–a moment of silence.
Then, after pausing to refresh his budding lungs, he started carrying on again.
“Shikeuro!” I shouted. (That’s Korean for “noisy.”) I wanted to add the rhetorical question, “Cheugeullae?”–which means, “Do you want to die?”–but I thought that might be going too far. I’m not sure whether or not it would be perceived as an idle death threat by innocent bystanders, and didn’t want to make the ungentlemanly mistake of leaping from on high to dispatch the cherubic menace and vile village villain.
He looked up from his perch and saw me glaring at him from my window, and I told him in English to shut up. Then I closed the window and was amazed that, after his prima donna’s rise in volume for having been the unwitting recipient of constructive criticism, he actually piped down for a change. Maybe one of his parents finally murdered him or he was snuffed out in an uncharacteristically accurate drone strike.
Not that I have any right to be so optimistic. When my wife got home after midnight and reprimanded me for not helping her out with her kindergarten class that morning, I appeared contrite to help things blow over quickly so I could go back to sleep. She said, since I told her I have a proofreading job to do today, on the day of the Lord, I should think harder about the debt I know in God by beginning to believe in him.
I almost said, “I’ll believe in him if he kills me; then I’ll finally be free.”
But I thought better of it, not having the energy for yet another fight, or even any clean T-shirts handy to wave around as a make-shift white flag. If Jesus did in fact die for my sins, I wish he’d have a huddle with his followers, give them a pep talk, and tell them to lighten the fuck up for a change.
If you have a dog, may he (or she) bless you. (I may not believe in God, but I do believe in dogs. At least we can all agree that they’re real.)