Love is in the air, along with Predator drones.
Sorry I’ve been out of touch for so long. I’ve been horribly depressed lately. At least that’s a reminder that I must still be alive, despite a conspicuous lack of vital signs. If I had any self-respect I’d hurl myself in front of a bus, only I’m too apathetic to take that valedictory swan dive.
Reasons? Well, first of all, I’m still married to Satan. You know how Prometheus has his liver ripped out by an eagle every day, only to have it grow back like a salamander’s tail so he can be re-eviscerated every twenty-four hours, ad nauseam? (Not to give too much away, but he eventually gets rescued by Hercules–or Herakles, if you want to get technical, favoring the original Greek moniker over the Roman, but that’s the kind of stuff that only happens in movies. I’m not a big fan of self-help books, but as the late author of one, M. Scott Peck, once wrote, “Nobody’s coming.” Besides, about eight months ago I had a chance to abandon ship with an old female friend who was briefly available, but I missed my chance and she’s since blown me off, probably for ever. As the saying goes, however, there’s a bus every ten minutes to be run over by, making the eagle’s job a little easier, likewise accommodating flocks of hungry seagulls and crows.
“I say, Nigel. Do I detect a smattering of road pizza below?” “Why, yes, you do.” “What say we pop down and partake of some fresh red and green guts?” “Why not? I do feel a bit peckish myself.”
The only reason, by the way, the two scavengers in the above dialogue have stereotypical English accents, is not because I have anything against Britain, which I’ve always considered Great, being a life-long anglophile, despite a large helping of Irish ancestry mixed in with the wasp bit, but to accommodate the pun towards the end.)
In my case, it’s not my liver that’s being eaten out every day, but my balls.
Add the pain of humiliation to the physically excruciating agony of being systematically emasculated on a daily basis and you’ll have some idea of why I’ve been having some difficulty sustaining or even finding a cheerful demeanor. It’s essentially a fruitless enterprise, like trying to catch a blue whale in a frog pond with a drop line.
But as I’ve probably written somewhere before, every mushroom cloud has a silver lining: at least the insidious phenomenon known as PS-2.5 has finally abated for the time being, after two weeks of raping the lungs of those of us who live in Seoul too clueless to have worn protective breathing masks (I finally broke down and bought one after several days of inordinate wheezing, not realizing that this particular batch of bad air was even worse than the usual infestations of so-called hwangsa, meaning “yellow dust” or “yellow sand” in Korean, which I’ve heard is that much more of a toxic treat in China’s major cities, which are Shanghaied by the stuff). PS-2.5 refers to tiny particles that lodge themselves in your lungs and stick around for the rest of your breathless life.
Early Sunday morning I even had a dream that the sky was clear, and when I woke up it was. I think what brightened my mood was the delightful chat I had with my brother on the phone the night before. He’s one of my best friends in the world, and also one of the smartest people I know. In fact, he’s the one who introduced me to the phrase “PS-2.5.” (Not to be confused with the early Beatles song “P.S. I Love You.”) It helps knowing you have a few kindred spirits out there, especially when you live under the same leaking roof as your bitterest foe.
Speaking of leaking roofs, I’m sad to announce that my wife Jina and I–speak of the devil, literally!–have to move out of our beloved apartment in the next ten days. Since we have absolutely nothing in common save an abiding hatred for each other that masochistically sustains our miserable and meaningless marriage, she’s of course delighted that we’re moving out, while I’m sinking in a sea of woe.
When she happily broke the news to me last weekend I was standing with my back to her at the sink (the better for her to stab me) and I almost started to hyperventilate. I seriously thought I might be having a heart attack, to paraphrase that old They Might Be Giants song that lasts about twenty seconds, part of the immortal medley of desultory ditties known as “Fingertips.”
In the great Mike Figgis-directed film The Browning Version, starring the legendary Albert Finney as a doomed teacher of the classics, the protagonist is told more than once by the headmaster, played by the ever-affable Michael Gambon, “The two most stressing things in life: moving house and divorce.”
The line went through my head at that moment, as I realized I didn’t know if I could withstand yet another move with this insufferable termagant, but since she’s got me against the ropes with a bleeding, severed scrotum and a dangling patch of redolent viscera (“Could you please open the window so the magpies can get in for their daily seed?”) I was too numb to grab one of the long, sharp knives from the dish rack before me and go all Norman Bates on her born-again puritanical ass.
Not that I’m in the market for homicide, as overexposure to her fiery temper has turned me colder than a Siberian tiger’s family jewels. Instead of breaking out in a murderous display of rage, I’m more apt to silently implode. What’s more, the almost spectacular futility of our misbegotten marriage may even be enough to do me in without my even having to lift a finger (“Look, Ma–no hands!”). The petty bitterness we feel for each other when we sink to the lowest depths of our little self-contained hell in the prison of deadly wedlock cultivates in me a passive-aggressiveness that’s so vehement that, during those times when she’s in my grill, glaring with bulging eyes and shouting some self-righteous denunciation, I even hope to croak on the spot and wish her a long and painful life (instead of the more cliched slow and painful death favored by so many aficionados of revenge).
I can imagine living long enough to snarl “Goodbye forever!” through clenched and foaming teeth before keeling over to meet my maker like a dead parrot in a television sketch.
Yesterday after I got home from teaching a new class I planned to take a nap, but Jina insisted I come with her to teach the kids she manages three afternoons a week, claiming she was tired too after staying out late with a mutual friend. She peppered her assault with the usual threats to close down the business and leave me (were this not invariably an idle blast of hot air, I’d be more than willing to encourage her in this suggestion), adding that she’d refuse to sign the contract for the new place and stay put instead.
You might think from what I wrote above that I would prefer to stay here too, but the leaking ceiling abortively alluded to before has become a menace. Jina and I have jury-rigged no fewer than twenty-three plastic containers of all shapes and sizes to catch the incessant drips, many of which we have to empty out by hand several times a day. We’ve attached them with masking tape and hooks she devised out of pieces of cut-up coat hangers. Now the ceiling is being taken over by mold. If we stay here much longer, it will soon be wearing a blue fur coat harvested from a colony of energetically bludgeoned Smurfs.
“You’ve never loved me!” she yelled.
(Rhetorical newsflash: Scientists have discovered that the earth is actually round.)
Since I abominated her at that moment and prayed she’d spontaneously combust, I was in no mood to refute her statement. Besides, if she was fishing for compliments, I’m sad to say that that sea is just about empty, folks.
She added that I’m boring, and that I’m a coward (with friends like these, who needs self-help books?); she also threw the Gunter Grass book I was holding on the floor, saying I loved books more than her (true again! what a soothsayer she is). I asked her how she’d like it if I threw her bible on the floor; she agreed that she loved the bible more than she loves me (natch).
I’d been hoping she’d eventually relent so I could enjoy a deliciously refreshing nap, but no such luck. As she stood there in the shoe-parking zone by the front door, ostensibly getting ready to leave, she said she wouldn’t be coming back, and would close down the school to boot.
Taking her at her word, I told her I’d need the laptop she was bringing with her to enter my attendance info for the adult English class I was teaching.
As if in reply, she threw the bag with the computer in it on the floor, then stepped on it a couple of times, just to make things official. (A few charming sentences before, she’d said it was her computer anyway, even though it’s not, which I guess from her point of view made it perfectly acceptable for her to use it as a welcome mat.)
Unable to endure any more of this infantile nonsense, I finally agreed to go with her, muttering under my breath an arsenal of agreeable oaths directed towards her person all the while.
So you may be able to understand why despite the precious moments afforded by your garden-variety human life in these fin de mundo times, I won’t be all that fussed if my heart finally does give way and spares me further torture, unless Murphy’s Law applies beyond the grave and I’m not spared the suffering that replaces peace, and God turns out to be the biggest asshole in the universe (journalist Matt Taibbi’s nickname for once irrationally exuberant economist Alan Greenspan; Taibbi didn’t mince words for the deity either, as he once wrote an essay entitled “God Can Suck My Dick”).
I’ll take nirvana over heaven if it means the eternal cessation of consciousness, not that I’d say no to any orgasm provided by some nymphomaniacal goddess instead of the usual testicular feast of the insatiable harpy pecking holes in this woebegone excuse for a lifeboat and “making the green one red.” (Macbeth appears to have been the inspiration for that madcap massacrer of in-laws, Kim Jong-un.)
One day I’ll finish sinking to the bottom of the ocean and join the finless fuselages of mutilated sharks.
“Good afternoon, my friends. Marriage troubles, eh?”