My wife is mad. I mean that in both the English and the American sense of the word. She’s probably both the craziest and the angriest person I’ve ever known–assuming I have the right to say I know her. After all, how well can you ever know another person? Just ask them; they’ll tell you.
I should buy a Dictaphone or else invest in one of those little spiral-bound pads to keep in my shirt pocket so I can jot down more detailed notes on the kinds of things she does and says. More than that, I should pack my bags and get out of Dodge before paramedics have to remove me in a body bag. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy. Apparently, one of the things that keeps a marriage going beyond the expiration date is sheer exhaustion.
Luckily, life is impermanent, so even if I am too chickenshit to get my act together and clear out while the going’s good, at least my body might have a little more dignity than my mind and just stop cooperating one of these days. Then maybe I’ll be able to sleep again at night.
(Right now, my wife is stirring from a nightmare and addressing Jesus in her sternest Korean. Please, go back to sleep and stay there for awhile so I can get something done for a change. Jesus.)
I had a co-worker a few years ago who was still bitter from the wake of a bad marriage to a Korean woman who tried to bilk him for all his money, evidently with the support of her loved ones. He told me he once said to her point-blank, “I’d rather be dead than be with you.” I’ve said the same thing to my wife before.
There’s also a scene in the movie The Crossing Guard in which Jack Nicholson says to a character played by his real-life ex, Angelica Huston, “I hope you die.” The man has a way with words.
I can’t pretend to be holier-than-thou; Jina’s constantly reminding me of how selfish and–yes, evil–I am, though I’d have to argue she takes the cake in that department and swallows it whole. There are times when I wish she were dead. I no longer have the gumption needed to kill her myself (I say “kill” as opposed to “murder” since if I stuck around afterwards I might even be able to persuade a jury that I did it in self-defense, considering how much our union has mutilated my constitution). She does have a soft side that reminds me how vulnerable she is. If we lived in the U. S., she’d probably be either heavily medicated or institutionalized in a room with padded, soundproof walls and only one small window fortified with a wire mesh. She could do with some counseling or therapy, only these things are all but unheard of in Korea. This is a culture that believes more in tough love, or at least keeping weaknesses and family matters private. That’s one reason why it’s become one of the top suicide locales in the world. Jina has threatened suicide before, but only in the name of emotional blackmail. Sad to say, but it worked.
Lately I’ve been wrestling with a bad cold. I’ve had it for about a week. I thought I was over it, but this virus is particularly tenacious, in accordance with the Korean stereotype (although the one I’m thinking of refers to people, not parasites). It started the night after I read the scene from King Lear out loud in which the cranky old monarch banishes his beloved (and all too suddenly beloathed) Cordelia for professing her affection for him in insufficient terms. I’ve never done any acting before, but I wanted to know how it felt to actually be Lear, as Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, James Earl Jones (don’t call him Jim Jones–that really pisses him off), and other Shakespearean giants of the stage have done. Affecting an octogenarian voice teased the cold into being (although of course the virus must have already been present, waiting to hatch like a cute little cherubic reptilian alien bundled up in its amniotic sac).
Jina, who believes in faith-healing, told me to tell myself I didn’t have a cold. She even got me to repeat her injunction against the demon “by Jesus’ name.” She’s obtuse enough to think I’m a fellow true believer; sometimes wishful thinking has no limit, even though I regularly express my refusal to drink the same Kool-Aid she so relentlessly proffers.
Naturally, the prayer didn’t work. As Claudius, the man who murders his brother and usurps the throne and marries the queen in Hamlet, says to himself after kneeling in a preening and perfunctory–and equally self-serving–prayer, “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
Not that I’m a great believer in the placebo effect anymore anyway.
So Jina takes over herself, gripping my head as if it were a bowling ball, and recites her incantation of mumbo-jumbo to the savior, urging him to step on it and get busy. Overworked deity that He is, He of course ignores her. (Or perhaps the poor earless chap didn’t hear her in the first place.)
Hence, my new hobby is coughing. It’s more or less under control at this point, although the other night I was hacking so violently I thought I might puke up the contents of my lungs. Picture a nest of alveoli erupting from the mouth like a tree with each branch resembling the newborn baby alien mentioned above, or else some kind of subaquatic bunting, or decorative colored paper flowers.
In order to sleep, I had three shots of cough syrup (useless), then popped a cough drop in my mouth. When I woke up later, the candy was still melting away. Good thing I didn’t choke on it. A guardian angel must be watching over me, making sure I can stick around to keep coughing my balls up on a regular basis. Like a salamander’s tail or Prometheus’s eagle-eaten liver, they keep growing back.
In my last post, I may have come across as sounding unduly pessimistic about the world’s future. Admittedly, it’s a luxury not having children, as my ego has less of a stake in the survival of our troubled species than it otherwise would. But I want to make it clear that I have nothing against children or babies per se. I was as tickled by that “Emotional Baby” video on You Tube that I assume has gone viral by now as anyone else (not that I ever want to hear that goddamned song again; I watched the thing twice and got the tune stuck in my head, which may have been the mommy’s intention in choosing her baby as an audience, if I may revert to cynicism for a moment. I just hope the poor kid isn’t hounded by paparazzi for the rest of his childhood. Then, by the time he becomes an adult and looks less cute than he does now, he’ll be mocked by the media for being a has-been. Set ’em up, knock ’em down. Chew ’em up, spit ’em out. Keep feeding the machine at all costs.). I just worry that there’ll be less room for tenderness and genuine human feelings in a world that’s running out of food, land, space, and water.
Then again, we could all be snuffed out by a meteorite this Christmas, inspired by Nixon and Kissinger’s bombing of Cambodia on that date back in the “good” old days.
Or at least Hollywood could make a movie about us to keep us entertained while we’re waiting for things to get better while working around the clock to ensure they get worse.
What we could really use is a global transformation of values in order to save ourselves. Let’s just hope that it can happen without too many charlatans getting their hands on it and using the occasion to aggrandize their parasitically pompous selves. (Hello, Joel Osteen! Did you hear what that guy said about the people who’d lost their limbs in the Boston Marathon bombing? “I mean, be glad you’re alive!” What an absolute dick. If I were God, I’d take a shit on his Brylcreemed head. Jesus should bitch-slap him for a lack of Christian compassion.)