Meanwhile, In South Korea

This Monday, 6:25 A.M. local time. Check the smartphone, praying the North put a missile through the roof Seoul City Hall overnight; prayer request denied. Too bad, that would have meant a day off from school. Now why don’t bad things happen more often. Something to knock us off our tracks for just a few minutes.

The sky is desaturated, the color of the apocalypse. Time to move. Eat a banana and put on your pants. Be a man, report to your post, honor your contract, stand in that room and do what they pay you for. Exercise Christ-level patience as the students continually eject from their seats like toaster strudels. They cluster up and jabber in a way that reminds you of haggling Jawas. Give them a worksheet and they rip it in half; you wish for shock collars. Sure, you only have to do this for three hours each morning but the time stretches and drags like you’re on one of those planets in INTERSTELLAR.

So let’s do this. Let Monday hit you in the scrotum so that Friday is earned, so that it becomes the sweet opiate known only to the working man. Out to the street and an East Sea typhoon is battering the block. I pray for its spout to touch down in the intersection and suck up buses and fruit stands and all of my students. I’d hang on to a traffic light with my feet kicking above my head as gravity reversed and spasm with rapturous laughter. But this does not happen; prayer request denied. Proof that God does not exist, at least in Korea. A thousand years ago they would have taken such adverse weather as a sign that the gods were displeased and cancel previously scheduled gatherings. But such is modernity. The train stops for nothing. Now a squall only really affects you if you’re homeless.

OK, first class is done. Fall back to the office, regroup for the next wave. The clock hands glide at a regal pace and they will never reach the next number. But: eyes on the distant prize. I have things that pull me through. The post-gym beer, the hours in the café punching the keyboard. And the women. Spend a few seconds shotgunning out the same sarcastic Kakao Talk message to the different prospects I met this weekend, getting things teed up for Friday.

This is what life could be. Nothing but beer and writing and tramps who like guys who drink beer and write. A life I’d sell my soul for, but the Devil hasn’t shown up yet with a contract inked in blood. Proof he doesn’t exist either. Somehow that’s even more horrifying. No God, no Devil, just you with the rain in your face.

Back to the classroom. There’s no God and no Devil, but demons still exist. Twenty-four of them writhe and snort sulfur in front of me. Hey man. You have it good. You could be homeless out there in the squall. Yes, I could be. And leave it to these children to make that seem appealing.


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