Abandonment: Part One

Every year my wife heads off to Pensacola to tend to the needs of her mother. It always seems to happen at the same time each year and she goes to great lengths to make sure we are fed for the duration. Without fail, the two weeks’ worth of food she prepares ahead of time seems to last approximately three days. I get it. We are grown and should be able to fend for ourselves and we do. However, while doing so I like to ensure she sees the plight she has inflicted on us through her absence. This serves the purpose of also providing her with daily updates.

The first couple of days are typically the same: We boys eat well and are happy. I begin to miss her and start putting “Aint no sunshine when she’s gone” videos on her FB timeline. It is usually that third day when semblances of civilization begin to crumble and we descend into a world not unlike the one depicted in Lord of the Flies. Here are the updates from her 2013 trip.

Day one without spousal oversight: Early August in the Georgia Low County. The temperature and humidity levels flirt with a third digit. Doc vanished in the early morning hours for a time indeterminate. I used the last sliver of soap this morning. While trusting the Timber Wolf and Pigdog to watch my back, I spent the morning trying to render fat in order to produce a rudimentary substance to bathe with. I have nothing to show for it but a full belly and the pervasive odor of bacon clinging to me like sweaty clothes and some soot with which to camouflage myself when I hunt for sustenance.

Day two without spousal oversight: The Boy and I have gone native. Despite the best efforts of the wife to leave us well provisioned, we’ve resorted to killing things and eating them. Tonight we shared a meal of dozen fried bream I skillfully caught.

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Day three without Doc’s supervision: The plague is taking its toll on the other half of my faction, threatening to upset the power balance. The common cold is deadly to us primitives. I think I may have to sacrifice him in order to save myself. My other son has formed a separatist faction and makes the rest of our territory uncomfortable. (If y’all knew the Man Child back then you would know that I am only half joking. He was going through some dark times and became slightly reclusive and perpetually agitated). This other faction persists in unwarranted territorial posturing. We may have to take him out before the plague weakens us too far. It’s ok, I know where he sleeps.

Day four unsupervised: It looks like the Boy and I will survive this round of plague, even as the other faction’s leader, the Man Child, begins to feel its effects. The dogs have stopped incessantly trying to go outside. Could be the thunderstorm or it could be that inside has become a jungle of sorts. I’m sure Doc would be furious at the state of things if she were here, but we no longer fear whip nor wrath since she is nearly a thousand miles away. For now, we are learning the art of war and the use of implements of destruction. I’ve attached a picture of us in the newly renovated living room so that you might better visualize our advancement.

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Day five…….or seven without Doc’s supervision: Time has lost all meaning here. Due to threats of bodily harm, the Boy and I have agreed not to bring down the vengeful wrath of our distant queen. We still refuse praying to her, but we will not kill her beloved pigdog. However, we are forced to forage farther afield for sustenance following the feast in which we devoured most of the bounty bestowed upon us prior to her departure. I called upon a place miles away from us and demanded food. Our strength and reputation must have preceded us as they brought it to our very gates. We must be fearsome indeed. Or so we thought. These subversives wore the same raiment as the Man Child. Red uniforms bearing the crest of some chieftain called Papa of clan John. It seems he’s forged alliances against us with other clans now.

My Wife Just Killed Newtons for me. And Broccoli.

 

I hadn’t planned on posting again so soon. I try to space things out in case I run out of things to talk about. I’m not sure what spacing posts out is going to do for that, but it made sense when I made the decision. I suppose I should get to the point of this post. Doc is at it again with her FB videos and I suspect she does this on purpose just to disturb me in some fashion. Fair enough. I’ve spent the last twenty years disturbing her with whatever falls out of my mouth. I knew I shouldn’t have opened the link but when the first text I see is “You’re eating wasps”, how am I supposed to not look?

Look. I get it. Eating bugs manifests in countless ways in most cultures I’ve encountered despite several differing religion’s prohibition on bug noshing. From Sicilian maggot cheese to entire bug buffets in Asia, it is a common thing. I’ve personally tried many. The sour cream and chive crickets weren’t bad, but Korea’s boiled silk worm larvae (bundaegi) tasted a lot like a dirty urinal smells and my throat closed and it wouldn’t go down and the smell stuck with me for hours until I got home and could reenact a scene from Ace Ventura.

That said, Fig Newton’s are dead to me. It isn’t the bug so much as it is the niggling thought that when I consume things containing figs, I am also consuming the romper rooms of irritable, incestuous, stinging insects. I’ll never be convinced that this is sanitary and all I see now when I see a fig is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas meets Wrong Turn meets Little Shop of Horrors. Wow. Those titles sound a bit alike when I think about it. Except for the Wrong Turn part. Obviously.

Then I looked into it and I now think broccoli is off the table as well. No more research for me. Ignorance is bliss, no? Don’t go looking. Cabbage might be out too.

You win this round, Doc. Well played.

Misdiagnosis or the Interconnected Nature of Everything. Being Married to a Shrink.

My wife put this video on my FB timeline with the caption “This is exactly like having a conversation with you.”

I responded with “I’m pretty sure this is nothing like me”.

Then that reminded me that I needed to complete my annual GAT (Global Assessment Tool). No. Not random. The GAT is a mandatory survey that asks like a million questions six different ways and you have to answer on a scale consisting of differing degrees of like me-ness. It’s something like this:

Question 401,693: I am easily distracted.

Then I have to answer with “nothing like me”, “somewhat like me”, or “this is so totally like me”. See? Connected rather than randomized. It’s all connected. Kind of like all those Disney movies making reference to one another. Just because I am thinking about Tarzan’s parents doesn’t mean that your convo on Frozen isn’t the same conversation.

Boom. Diagnosis refuted! It’s like magic how I can do that.

Take that, Doc! I’m a wizard!

Laundry Herpes

I have many nemeses. Nemesises? Nemesi? I’m going with nemesi. I just like the way it sounds and my butchery of the language will drive my daughter insane. Whatever your preferred plural of nemesis is, I have many of them.

You remember my problem with odoriferous bathroom textiles, yeah? If not, please refer to the “To Drink or to Stink” post. Stinky towels haven’t quite made the list, so don’t worry. I’m not talking about them again except to say that a friend offered advice on how to eliminate the offending aroma. She suggested I use dryer sheets. What she doesn’t understand is that I absolutely loathe the danged things. They are, without a doubt, the unruliest participants in laundering operations.

You use one, just a single one, and countless others show up. It’s like plucking a grey hair. My grandmother used to say that if you pulled one grey hair, then seven would come to its funeral. Well, dryer sheets work the same way. Except maybe in that you don’t pluck them unless you consider it plucking when you have to pick up off the floor the dozens spawned by the one. Also, more than seven show up. Try like seventy. And they keep coming. Laundry herpes. That’s what they are.

I used a dryer sheet once and spent weeks picking them up off the floor. They refused to stay in trash cans and if you do manage to catch the one lurking under the edge of the bed and throw it away, then its buddies show up to congregate at the trash can like some great horde of peaceful protestors silently demanding an inmate’s release. I’d find them in my clothing as I dressed after having hung or folded items. They’d be wadded up in the toe of my socks or under my pillow at night. I’m pretty sure I woke up coughing them up once. I am also fairly certain they can lift the lid to trash cans and parachute unharmed to the ground to get lost in a sea of protestors. They are all in cahoots.

I expressed this to my wife who then informed me that I have an irrationally vehement attitude towards these translucent travesties of industry. Not two days later I went to the barracks laundry room and had to send her a message.

“Remember how I told you that if you use one dryer sheet it won’t stay in the trash and all its buddies show up and then you said something unhelpful about an irrational disdain for them?”

“Yes.”

“All you did was mention the danged things. See what horrors you’ve wrought? They breed like rabbits from nothing more than mere mention of them!”

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Then I gave her the grey hair analogy.

“You are the only person I know who can manage to bring up dryer sheets and funerals in the same sentence.”

I suspect that she may be their deity if she can speak them into existence.

Moral of the story? I need to work on my people skills. It’s not cool to ask for laundry tips from a tiny, timid, and bespectacled female Lieutenant in the laundry room by opening with “Do your towels stink too?” Apparently.

Broken Beans

I found out today that my coffee is broken. Yes, you read that right. My coffee. Not the pot. The pot works fine, if not a little slow. I complained to my wife that I had no energy and felt generally lethargic all day for several days. I told her that my coffee intake had increased dramatically and I was sleeping more, but it wasn’t helping any longer. I also don’t want to leave my room and have to deal with people. Being a Doctor of psychology, she immediately began questioning my mental and emotional state.

“I’ve never been depressed before. So I don’t know what depression feels like to begin with so how can I tell you if I’m feeling depressed?”

She then suggested that about all I may be missing is a sense of hopelessness.

“I don’t feel hopeless though. I know what that feels like. I felt it once when Lyme’s disease was trying to kill me. I know how to fix that feeling. It’s called morphine on demand. It worked when I was in the hospital.”

“Go pick up a vitamin B supplement and see if that helps,” she offered.

“I get plenty of that in my coffee? Besides, you suggest morphine and then offer vitamin B as a substitute?”

“When did I….”

“When you suggested, in a roundabout way, morphine for depression,” I began.

“No. Just no,” she cut me off. “And there is no vitamin B in your coffee.”

“WTH? My coffee is broken? Now I am depressed. I’ll see doc about that morphine.”

Left thumb to cheek. Left fingers cover eyes. And there it is, folks. Her signature sign that she thinks I’m a genius!

Winning

We all know that the way men speak and listen is not the same way women speak and listen. This will inevitably lead to the occasional misunderstanding and the need for crisis management from time to time. Fortunately for me, I am something of a pro at managing this type of crisis when it comes to my wife.

For example: My wife recently cracked a tooth and somehow didn’t know until she had pain shooting up the side of her face and into her skull. One doc suggested some kind of temporal aneurysm that would leave me a widower as I sat helpless in Korea. Thankfully he was wrong and a different doc sent her to see a dentist who then found a tooth cracked from gritting her teeth. I’m pretty sure it happened during one of our conversations. Anyway, she answered one of our twice daily video calls and let me know she wasn’t dying. Her face was still numb and I couldn’t help but think that when she spoke, her mouth moved a little like Drew Barrymore’s or Meredith Grey’s. More like Natalie Dormer, really. She even had this cute little lisp going on and I found myself grinning stupidly at her adorableness. The conversation went like this:

Me: “You’re tho cute!” I told her.

Wife: “You’re a butthole.” That didn’t come out the way you read it. It came out more of a “buth hole”.

Me: “For calling you cute?”

Wife: “You’re making fun of me.”

Me: “No. I think you’re adorable.”

Wife: “I think you’re an ath-hole.”

Me: “Look. I get that we both speak the same language differently so maybe I need to clear this up. When I say you’re cute, I genuinely mean it. I also know that you underthtand the way males interact and perhaps you calling me an ath-hole is an attempt at bonding on my level. I also think you are genuinely upset and our differing communication thtyles have caused a misunderthtanding.”

Wife: “Now you’re treating me like I’m thtupid.”

Me: “No. I’m treating me like I’m smart!”

She laughs. I win and am no longer an ath-hole. Sort of. But only sort of on the ath-hole part. I totally win.

Hercules: King of the Zombies

“I’m patient zero,” I told my wife when she answered the video call.

“I haven’t even had coffee yet.”

“This is serious. I’ve put all the pieces together now. Get coffee. I’ll wait.”

She went off screen briefly and I sat listening intently to her morning routine. It contained more prayer than normal I think. I kept hearing things like “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and “Lord you made him…” and some mumbled plea about answering calls in the future that began with “Good morning”.

She sat back down. “Patient zero?”

“Zombie apocalypse? Duh.”

“This should be fun. Please. Enlighten me.”

“So if you remember, I was raised with cats. Now throw my mad cow into the mix…” I began.

“You do NOT have mad cow,” my wife informed me. “And Moosa isn’t a real thing either.”

“Then explain my erratic thought processes. HA! You can’t. So much for your psych degree, Doc.”

“You’re just bizarre.”

“No. I’m misunderstood.”

“Einstein was misunderstood,” she incorrectly corrected.

“He couldn’t make correct change for the bus, either.”

“But You can most certainly make change for the bus.”

“Tell that to the Korean bus driver who had to make correct change for me when I put ₩ 10,000 in the thing to pay for my fare yesterday.”

For those unfamiliar, ₩ is the symbol for Korean won which makes more sense than our $ for dollars. Double strike-through W for Won versus a double strike-through S for Dollar. In regards to the origins of double strike-through S for Dollar, I blame the French influences on the early development of the written English language. Kind of like the superfluous K in knight or knife. It’s a working theory. Back to Won (₩). It is Pronounced wan but spelled w-o-n. Lost in translation, I suppose. Anyway, 1,000 ₩ is like 90 cents. Cents: (¢). Boom! Take that Frenchie!

“You didn’t.”

“It was all I had on me. It resulted in me having about six pounds of Korean coins in each pocket. After that I just dumped the contents of one pocket into the thing (what is that called anyway?) every time I got onto a different bus. The driver would then make change and the machine would spit a new set of coins out weighing slightly less than six pounds. It was exactly like paying a percentage to have my money laundered. I felt like I was in the Triad.”

“That’s exactly nothing like having your money laundered, and the Triad are Chinese.”

“Right! But they are also foreign to Korea, so it works.”

She placed her left thumb on her cheek and covered her eyes while shaking her head.

I explained to her for perhaps the hundredth time in twenty years how I came to be afflicted with the first of three bovine sicknesses. The second is from a mandatory series of anthrax vaccinations and the third is from an Army mandated small pox vaccination. I know that you are thinking that small pox and cow pox are two different pox (poxes?), but if you are thinking that, you are mistaken. Apparently, small pox was eradicated except for weaponized versions stockpiled alongside weaponized anthrax in Russia and sold off to any number of belligerent states. So the US engineered something out of cow pox to administer to us so we can’t get either type of poc. Milkmaids seemed to be immune to small pox, so why not? What is it with Russians and cow disease weapons? Weirdos. I digress.

Removing her hand from her face she asked me what Einstein had to do with all of this?

“You brought him up.”

“Oh my god, would you just get to your point?” she pleaded.

“As I was saying, when I got exposed to MRSA, that particular disease was outmatched by preexisting conditions and teamed up with the mad cow, cow pox, and anthrax. Voila! Moosa.”

“And your cats had what to do with this?”

“I’m glad you asked. Being raised with cats is what started it all. You remember that manipulative parasite they carry?”

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“Toxoplasma gondii. Yes, but that affects women and causes birth defects or something.”

“It makes them more promiscuous so they have more babies and perpetuate the cycle, yes. But it also makes men less risk averse to put them in the way of the big cats we once lived alongside so that when we became cat scat we could also spread the bacteria.”

“Is there a point to this?”

“Of course there is. The Toxoplasma gondii explains why I was chasing that cat in Panama and got stuck in the sticker patch which is where I picked up that fungus that controls the minds of ants in South America.”

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I held up my arm to show her the sticker wound I’d gotten when I was nine years old. There is a still visible brown mark much like a tattoo. Maybe it is more like the pencil wound on my left leg I got when I was thirteen following a leg spasm while I held a pencil point down under my desk. “It got in at this point.”

“So you have fungus for brain. That explains things.”

“No. I’m just saying I’m not in full control of my mental faculties.”

“No argument there,” she shrugged.

“You can’t insinuate that I’m stupid after calling me Einstein.”

“I most certainly did not call you Einstein.”

“You said I was bizarre and through the whole misunderstood money laundering Triad thing, we established that bizarre is basically a synonym for Einstein when we talk.”

“I’m pretty sure having mushrooms in your head is no basis for zombification,” she suggested. “That fungus is not the same thing as magic mushrooms.”

“The point is that when the MRSA wins out over the mad cow, it will erupt in my skull at which point the fungus will take control due to Moosa diminished mental facility and I will become a zombie with bacteria that draws people to me. Cycle repeats. Zombie apocalypse.”

“I am going to choke your mother next time I see her.”

“I would too. This is all her doing. First the cats, then the willful spread of mad cow. I told you she was the Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld,” I gasped at a sudden realization. “I am a demigod! I’m like Hercules, king of the zombies!”

“And I am hanging up now.”

 

 

 

Photo Credit

Zombie Ants: http://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/5444141-a-mind-controlling-fungus-is-turning-ants-into-real-life-zombies-in-the-rainforest/

Forever Jung

I’m sorry. This has nothing to do with Carl Jung, I just liked the way it sounded as a title. I know it may have given you the wrong impression, but that is ultimately irrelevant. Focus on the important part. I just may be the next Sigmund Freud, y’all! How does that make you feel? Not the old grumpy looking one. The young Freud with the killer mustache that I would totally wax into handlebars. You have to give it to him. The man did demonstrate a certain je ne sais quoi I’m almost positive derived from his flair for impeccable personal grooming. This is especially true when compared to the lackluster…. whatever that is he did to his head and stache of Jung.

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Here is how I reached this conclusion:

“I swear this heat and humidity sucked the life out of me today,” I lamented to my Queen.

“Ugh,” She replied. She’s quite monosyllabic before that first cup of coffee at 5 p.m. It’s funny how when I go to Korea, she lays about until late afternoon in our home near Savannah, Georgia.

“I had to grind the narcotic beans of a foreign plant, strain water through them, and drink it at lunch it just to survive the day and beat the heat drooziness. Oh what a wretched life,” I explained.

“Ah. We’re being dramatic. That helps.”

“Why are you always falsely accusing me of drama and hypochondria?”

“You sound like you are gearing up for a Shakespearean play. “Oh what a wretched life!” Really? Yes, you are dramatic and a hypochondriac,” apparently she inhaled a whole cup of coffee while I was being decidedly not dramatic. “You are dramatic and hypochondriac and you are my love.”

“I’m just your love, but the other two are figments of your imagination.”

“Maybe my love is a figment of my imagination too?” Ooooo! Maybe she hadn’t gotten through that coffee after all. She doesn’t play well until her BCC (blood-coffee content) are at certain levels. I’m convinced that this is the manifestation of condition based learning similar to when an alcoholic learns to play pool or something. If they learned it on a bender, they can’t play well sober.

“You aren’t following me here,” I began. “Bear with me for a minute.”

“Oh god,” Her syllable count was shrinking again. I’d need to type fast.

“So you love me greatly and part of you thinks I’m perfect, but there is another part that thinks I can’t be perfect. As a way of coping with this cognitive dissonance, you project dramatic and hypochondriac behaviors onto your perception of my persona. It’s really quite simple. Your id and ego are at odds. Boom! I can psychoanalyze too. We’re like professional associates now. I can so be a shrink. I’m really good at this”

“Lol,” Was her only response.

I think she may have been regressing syllabically at this point and thought of that as one word pronounced “laul” or “loll” maybe, but I suppose she could have been waking up and that was an “el-oh-el”.  Either way, I’m honestly not sure if she thought I was being funny or if she was laughing at me or laughing at my epiphany regarding the innate skills I possess as a psychoanalyst.

*Footnote: When she read this, my Queen informed me that I need to clear some things up.

1) She would like everyone to know that there are time differences between Korea and Georgia and that it was only 5 p.m. in Korea.

2) She claims she said I was a dramatic hypochondriac rather than dramatic and a hypochondriac.

3) She also claims she did not mean “el-oh-el”, but that it was an autocorrected “oh hell”.

 

Photo Credits:

The Freuds: http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

Carl Jung: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

How I Got Kicked Out of a Korean Temple. Sort of. By My Wife.

Korean Buddhist temples. There are some extravagantly beautiful ones here and there are some that are spectacular in their simplicity. I guess the same could be said for churches back in the States. The Catholics build some of the most beautiful and elaborate places of worship I’ve ever seen, while a multitude of other denominations might reside in prefabricated steel buildings that are completely bare of any adornment whatsoever. With these Western places of worship in mind, I find it odd to just go wandering into someone’s church or temple to go look at it. Especially if there were people at worship there.

Apparently it is an acceptable thing to do in most temples in South Korea though. They even have little “Temple Stay” tours in which you go live as a monk for the weekend. Eating nothing but mugwort and raw garlic for dinner and then sleeping on a stone bed with nothing but your spiritual acumen to keep your body warm does not sound like my thing after a hard day of contemplating a rock while sitting cross-legged in an ant bed. But hey. You do you. I’ll stick to the tours on which I am free to come and go. What isn’t going to happen for my wife to accompany me on such a trip. She seems fairly certain that I’m banned for life and tracked on some monk monitored all-points bulletin social media site where they have reached a new level of oneness and demand profuse amounts of Kung Fu as a means to right a cosmic wrong.

I’m not sure what the mug wort and raw garlic eating is all about. I’m actually not even sure that it is a real thing. It is present in the Korea creation myth in which a tiger and a bear had to eat nothing but that for 20 days while forced to live in a completely dark cave in order to be granted human form. Apparently the tiger was all “Screw that noise” and left the cave with the now halitosis suffering bear. Long story short, the bear became a human woman, married the deity who subjugated her to this treatment, and gave birth to the first Korean king in the world’s first known case of Stockholm Syndrome. Anyway, I think this is why I think Korean monks practice this weird diet that they may not really practice.

It would be a real shame if they did though. There is literally food everywhere in this country. It’s like a national pastime or something to wander about aimlessly and eat things all day. Go to a Korean rest stop off their main highway. They contain no less than 10 different restaurants, two convenience stores, and not a single danged trash can present in the entire country. Just about every street corner has some vendor of something edible, but sometimes not so edible. Do NOT even bother to try Bundaegi. I’m sure that’s spelled wrong, but it’s just boiled silkworm larvae that taste an awful lot like a urinal smells. On the more delectable side of things are some pretty spectacular frozen treats. A particularly popular one among Koreans and Americans alike is this green colored melon popsicle. It is absolutely wonderful during the heat of summer.

The point is that when in Korea, do as Koreans. This means walking around all day long and looking at things. Between looking at things you have to buy things to eat while you walk to the next thing at which you are going to look. So we did. We each had one of those popsicles I mentioned, but it was quite hot out and I was slow to finish it and ended up with sticky hands. Right before we walked into a quaint little temple in the Korean folk village. There was this stone wall in the foyer with the giant face of Korean Buddha carved into it. There was a gravel bed at the base of the wall and water perpetually ran from the top of the wall, over Buddha’s face, and disappeared into the gravel below. It produced a tranquil sound that seemed to be an overtone to the deep toned background of chanting. I’m sure there is a technical term for the effect, but I’m not a musician. You’d have to ask my wife. Some monk I presumed to be an important man walked among the crowd blessing people or little patches of cloth they brought to him. We were really quite fascinated by it all and stood in reverent silence, soaking the cultural experience in. I was particularly pleased at the sight of my wife enjoying herself so much and I stayed a little behind her so I could watch her soak it all in. My tranquility was brought to an abrupt halt when I noticed the chanting had stopped and that every person, including the monks, had stopped what they were doing and were now openly glaring in our direction. An angry sounding utterance in Korean was issued by one of the…parishioners? somewhere in the crowd. The important looking monk extended both arms out to the sides and made a motion that was obvious in its meaning. He was motioning for the people to remain calm even as he narrowed his eyes and began to inch (millimeter?) towards us. I was kind of impressed that he could narrow his eyes more than they were in their natural state, but he took on a look reminiscent of Clint Eastwood as he began addressing us in a firm but calm manner.

“Even people of other nations slow down and speak louder when trying to get foreigners to understand them,” I remember thinking. Then, “They’re onto us. They know we aren’t Korean or Buddhists”.

My wife turned and was already asking what I had done before she’d completely rounded on me. Upon completion of her turn her eyes flew open and all I could do was mutter “What?” around my popsicle stick. Then I decided that there must be something behind me that was freaking everyone out, so I turned that way while using my pants to dry my now clean hands.

The wife began gesticulating in an overly dramatic fashion that matched her tone but not her words. “Did you seriously just wash your hands on Buddha’s face”?

“She washed her face on it,” I said, indicating an ancient looking Korean woman.

“She was performing a blessing!” My wife began gesturing to the door as if telling me to get out like I was some outsider. “Just play along,” she bellowed. “Lower your gaze, bow, mumble something contrite sounding, and go”.

I did so and she followed me still yelling and gesticulating like a mad woman.

We rounded the corner and I kissed her. “That was some quick thinking,” I said. Truly amazed.

“This is why I can’t take you anywhere”.

“This is why I should take you everywhere,” I began. “Hey! They have cuttlefish on a stick over by that museum….”

“Stop talking”.

I do love this woman.

Subtropical Yeti and Muscle Cars

Apparently STDs are a real thing. STD as in socially transmitted diseases. Not to be confused with the other use of STD. It’s a little early in the post for me to be explaining myself, don’t you think? Anyway, they are real. I learned of them from a friend on Face Book who suggested that my potentially spreading small pox might be an STD. Not that I’m spreading small pox, but that my pox are spreading on me. And since I am in Korea without my family this time it stands to reason that the malady is of a social nature rather than a sexual one. Obviously.

Upon learning that socially transmitted diseases are a thing (who knew?), I announced to my friends: “Meet the next Howard Hughes, y’all”.

Kim, my wife of 20 years seems to think that this is not a viable life option so I suggested to her that I should become a hermit. Just to clear things up, the marriage is of twenty years. I didn’t even know Kim when she was 20.

Ok. So let me back up a little bit. I will tell you right now that I am a terribly flawed individual. I don’t think I’m a monster, but I make mistakes. Often. Sometimes these mistakes hurt those I love. Other times they just make me look stupid. That said, Kim and I just recently emerged from one of these in which I emotionally devastated her. It was not intentional, but she has to get sick of this at some point and I was feeling terrible about it all. In my mind I’d emotionally scarred the love of my life. Scarring equals abuse. I decided I was an abuser. The text conversation went like this:

“I passed my Korean driver’s license test!”

“Can you forgive me?”

“Not for passing the driver’s tesr2.”

“Test.”

“For being hurtful.”

“Oh god.”

“I’m an abuser.”

Her response? “Wow.”

“Huh?”

“That escalated quickly. You went from passing a test, to your fingers having a stroke and being unable to spell, to being an abuser.”

“Welcome to my head.”

“Wow.” Again with the wows. “You’re not an abuser.” She assured me.

“I emotionally scarred you. I’m pretty sure that qualifies.

I determined that I was the worst form of awful human being and that maybe I would be better off away from humanity. So between that and the emergence of socially transmitted diseases, I decided I should be a hermit.

“I’ll be like some random Buddhist that never bathes and talks to his fleas.”

“You might actually be happy that way.” She said.

“Gripes at them more likely.”

“What the heck are you talking about?”

“The fleas, Kim. I’d be griping at them rather than talking to them. Fleas are jerks.”

“Fleas are definitely jerks.” She agreed.

“I don’t want to be a hermit anymore.”

“That was quick. What do you want to be now? You’re like a toddler changing professions.”

“The fleas screwed it up,” I explained. “Ask those buttholes. I’ll just be a beachcomber and live under a banana leaf,” I beamed at my brilliant idea. “Plus, fleas hate saltwater. Have you ever seen a fish with fleas?”

“Sand fleas.” She offered.

“Great bait!”

“They bite.”

“Buttholes.”

“Right?” She’s very supportive.

“How about a Djinn then? No rhyme intended.”

“O….k?”

“Djinns never have to miss anyone they care about. They just move them into the lamp with them.” I explained. I’m not sure why it needed explaining. Seemed fairly obvious to me. “Plus there are no fleas in lamps. I’ve never seen a flea in a lamp.”

“And no nagging, needy wives in lamps either,” She offered in a manner suggesting that her supportive nature only goes so far and that residing in a lamp in the middle of the Sahara was just a tad farther than she was willing to go.

Remembering that she prefers cold weather and forgetting that hermits live alone, I toyed with the idea of being an Arctic or Antarctic hermit if there was such a thing, but there are polar bears at one locale and penguins at the other.

“Penguins are jerks too…..,” I began.

“Take the polar bears then.”

“….. and polar bears are just hungry. Plus, it’s cold there. Which is why I can’t be a Himalayan hermit.”

“Is this your way of coping?  This rambling?” She asked.

“Yeah, and yetis. Beats the hell out of talking about how awful I am.”

“We aren’t talking about how awful you are,” She said. “I said you’re a good guy, but you aren’t infallible.”

“I don’t know what else to talk about right now. A yeti would understand this. They don’t know what to talk about either. That’s why they hide in mountains like I’m doing. Except their mountains aren’t full of bustling garlic breathed people who look like elves to me. So when you get right down to it, I’m something like a yeti: tall, white, hairy (semi) and currently live on the side of a mountain in a subtropical country where no one understands me when I speak. I am a subtropical yeti….”

“Well you ramble then and I’ll just sit here and read.”

I think I failed to mention that this conversation was over instant messaging while each of us are on different continents. As you can clearly see, I express myself better with the written word. You should hear me trying to discuss feelings vocally. It’s truly horrific and only marginally successful when done in total darkness. It also helps when she doesn’t laugh at those expressions uttered into a dark room intended to put me at ease through the illusion of solitude. I told you I was flawed.

Sensing she wanted to change the subject because I am in possession of inordinately high levels of emotional intelligence, I decided to comment on recent FB timeline posts.

“I see you’ve been taking stabs at me on your timeline.”

“Huh?

“Memes abut holding in snarky comments or letting go does less damage. I’m pretty sure those are directed at me. It’s cool. I think I earned it.”

“You are going to think everything is directed at you right now.”

“If the snowsuit fits…” I began. “I’m not mad or hurt or anything. It was just an observation that had nothing to do with the phallic nature of fleas or flightless water birds.”

“What’s the plural of yeti,” She asked.

“I’ll have to ask our scholars. As soon as I can find a yeti scholar. They’re more elusive than the hillbilly yetis like me.”

“No crap, I looked it up: yetovia.”

“They have a bank?” I asked, more than a little irked that my yeti brethren have been withholding information. “What time are you going to bed?”

“Why?”

“So I know when to get up so I can talk to you. Duh. I don’t have to explain these things to yetis.”

“Because they are at the bank and don’t care.”

“They are starting to be as douchey as fleas.”

“Before you go, just tell me this.”

My gut immediately tied itself in knots. I don’t think I’ve ever had a panic attack, but I’m pretty sure this is how they start. One more question that sheds light on my many flaws, exposes that weak spot in a carefully crafted façade presented to the world so they can’t see through my crap. “I’ll try.”

“Why can’t we get rid of that Mustang?” She referenced the dilapidated 66 Mustang sitting covered in our driveway.

“I want to restore it.” I’m more than a little confused at this point. I’m the subject changer, the deflector. Not her.

“Why do you want it so bad? It just takes up room in the driveway.”

“It’s a classic and I’ve wanted one since I could drive. It’s my dream project.”

“The damned thing isn’t reliable. It’s paint its chipped. It won’t hardly start.” She listed its issues.

“It just needs some work.”

“And you have the patience and skill to do this?”

“Mostly. The body work will be a learning process though.”

“When it’s fixed it will still be an old car that could break down again.” Kim was making me work for this one.

Did I mention that Kim has a tendency to sell things when I’m overseas? My horse when I was in Iraq. My BMW last time I came to Korea. I really thought it would be my dog this time. She hates German Shedders. Now I felt like I was in a battle to keep this classic car project and couldn’t care less about the dog. How quickly loyalties shift. Sorry, Smoke. You’re on your own, pup.

“I don’t want to just patch it up. I’m talking full restoration. It could take years.”

“Sweetheart, you just made my point on our marriage for me.”

“Masterful.” All I could do was shake my head in awestruck wonder.

“And that’s why you love me.”

“One of the many.”

Image By Philippe Semeria – http://www.philippe-semeria.com, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5770652