Sometimes I feel sorry for my wife. Not just because she’s married to me (a date worse than death), but because she has to be her. But I’d like to pause in my perennial griping about the lady to praise her tenacity in addressing a problem we’ve been having lately. She’s made a dogged effort to solve it–no thanks to me, the lazy bastard.
For the past two weeks or so our apartment has been suffering from incontinence. The apartment directly above ours appears to have a prostate problem, as the ceiling has been dripping relentlessly throughout that time. Shortly after the crisis began, Jina took makeshift steps to assemble a series of plastic cups and containers to catch the drips that ran along an area where she was able to suspend said vessels using hooks she’d made from pieces of coat hangers she’d made by snipping them with a pair of wire cutters (sadly, now we have a coat hanger shortage). Then she called the builder.
He came by with his partner and together they stared in wonder at the problem in progress, conveying their concern in Korean. They went upstairs to investigate, then came back a few minutes later to tell us the boiler in the apartment above ours had burst. They made an appointment with the renters and promised to fix it within a couple of days. When the drips continued, Jina called the builder, who said they should abate in short order.
After we returned from a few days of epic feasting with Jina’s family to commemorate the Lunar New Year, we were stunned to find a puddle on the kitchen table, along with another one on the floor below an area Jina hadn’t fortified with either a bucket or a plastic cup. She rigged a couple more containers, bringing the grand total to thirteen.
Again, I confess that I was not as proactive as I should have been during this whole ordeal (still ongoing, although the leaks finally do appear to be slowing down–eat your heart out, Fukushima), and take full responsibility for the deadly sin of sloth.
Poor Jina spent so much time looking up to rig the array of plastic receptacles, some of which she had to adhere to the ceiling with packaging tape, that she ended up hurting her neck. (As if life weren’t already enough of a pain in the neck!–pause for rimshot drum solo.) Because we’re both sensitive people who have competing claims to a monopoly on suffering, sometimes it’s hard for us to sympathize with each other’s parade of aches and pains; whenever I sigh, grunt, wince, or voice the wasp-equivalent of “Oy vey,” she needles me for being such a major-league pussy (hey, at least I’ve got one–just kidding). I’ve had a bad case of sciatica for the past fifteen years in my right butt-cheek, with is invariably the one she hits whenever she spontaneously decides to spank me.
But I’m no good at limbo-dancing and am not eager to stoop to her level, so when she is a hurtin’ pup, as she is now, I lapse into Christ mode and try to assuage her pain. (Like the drips in the ceiling described above, however, pain has a funny way of moving from one place to another. Pain is immortal! Sting says he’s the King of Pain? Well, I’m the god of pain, so take that, Sting!)
Since she refused my offer of naproxen to alleviate her symptoms, I asked if she wanted me to rub some generic mentholated Pain Relief Gel on her neck and upper back (pardon the anonymous product plug). She said yes, so I did. She said it made her feel better. I smiled. We kissed. We held hands. We skipped across the kitchen and played a game of hopscotch.
After having a breakfast of kimchi stew and rice pilaf made with kimchi and bean sprouts, which she’d concocted the previous night (although the sprouts had withered and shriveled up so much in the rice cooker that they resembled a mermaid’s pubic hair), I heated up a cup of two-day-old cup of coffee in the microwave and surfed the web. I was going to wash the dishes but I got pulled into the computer, so Jina ended up having to do it herself.
She asked me if i wanted to go over to the church library to have some cheap coffee. I gave her a noncommittal answer. She was miffed at me because I’d already spent the fifty thousand won her parents had given me on New Years on food and books (we gave them three thousand bucks from a seven thousand dollar loan, so there). I promised to stop buying books (which promise I broke later in the afternoon after withdrawing some dough from a slush fund) and gave her a meek, contrite look like Homer Simpson apologizing to a wrathful Marge.
I’d read Dylan Farrow’s letter to the New York Times re-accusing Woody Allen of having sexually abused her twenty-odd years ago (along with The Onion’s hilarious piece written in Woody’s voice), and although I initially took her side in the matter, a few days later I printed a defense of Allen written on the Daily Beast’s website, which I was unable to read in full because for some reason the cockamamie printer had missed roughly an inch of text along the right-hand margin.
Anyway, I finally managed to read Woody’s own defense on the Huffington Post (borrowed from the Times), and watch the videotaped interview he gave 60 Minutes back in 1992. This gave me a new perspective on the story, making it look as if Mia Farrow is a total whack-job who brainwashed Dylan into hating Woody so she could get revenge for his “taking her daughter” (meaning Soon-Yi Previn) “away from her.”
Jina came up and saw what I was watching, then proceeded to lambaste Woody Allen for being an evil man. Having made up my mind that he was innocent (if he’s not, I apologize for being wrong, but the evidence I’ve seen, read, and heard is enough to exonerate him; if you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself if you haven’t already), I said he wasn’t an evil man but a good one. She said I was being brainwashed and that he was lying. She also hated him for running off with Soon-Yi, even though in truth neither Ms. Previn nor Dylan were his adopted daughters at the time, but those of his girlfriend Mia. Besides, Soon-Yi was an adult, so he wasn’t doing anything illegal in that relationship. Insensitive, perhaps. Illegal? No.
We missed the chance to go to the library, since the place closed at five, so Jina left in a huff. I got in the shower and just after putting a dollop of shampoo in my hair, I heard the doorbell ring. Without further ado, I turned off the faucet and went to let her in, wet footprints be damned. She apologized and I resumed my shower. When it was over and I exited the bathroom, she was gone again.
Despite the crowds and having to wait in line at a pizza joint and also at a bookstore, I had a good afternoon without her, and she enjoyed herself without me, having a nice time with some kids over at the church library, which for some reason was open after five after all.
We met for dinner at an Italian restaurant and all was well again, although we managed to get into another argument as I was getting ready for bed, as she accused me of not being a good neighbor by failing to help brush away the snow that had accumulated (all of two inches of the stuff, for Christ’s sake) outside. I told her I’d be dead soon so she wouldn’t have to put up with my shit anymore, and I wouldn’t have to put up with hers.
As I lay dying, she stayed up–all night, as it turned out–online window-shopping and watching Korean figure skater Kim Yuna. I got up to write this post when she went to bed, snoring her way to heaven. Last night I was praying she’d die without my having to kill her, as I’m allergic to prison. Now I’m back to a state of blissful indifference.
A neighbor who’s moving out soon said the landlady’s planning to jack up the rent, so we’re probably going to have to move to a smaller place. Jina said I’d have to get rid of most of my books. If that’s the case, I might as well just keep moving, considering she drags me down like a lead necktie.
(Pardon the lengthiness of this entry; I got a little carried away–to the nearest insane asylum, a wonderful oxymoron and euphemism rolled into one, sorta like “friendly fire.”)