Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hulk, Smash!

I went out the other night with a friend of mine. I needed to get a new pair of sandals. I had been wearing the ones I bought last summer, but realized after they'd gotten drenched last week and I pulled my leg up to let the doctor change my bandages, that they reeked and that my toes were disgustingly dirty. It was worse when they were re-soaked on the way to dinner and a movie on Saturday and I caught whiff of what smelled like a wet dog wafting up to my nose from under the table. How embarrassing!

Anyhow, I snagged a cheapie pair of men's sport sandals and left my dirty dog ones on top of a pile of trash on the side of the road. I got two shoes. I got new shoes.

With that taken care of, Ben and I looked around for a spot to have some dinner. "There's a nice gogi-jip up over there," I said, pointing over yonder. "Or, there's a slummier but good one that way," gesturing in the opposite direction.
"Let's slum it!" said Ben.
As we approached the restaurant, Ben nodded toward a place a couple doors down. "How about there?"
"Makkoli?" (Danger, danger!) "Really?"
"Yah!! Makkoli!"

So we went inside and ordered up a crooked kettle of milky tangy rice wine and some doobu kimchi, and sat talking. As is always the case, we drew attention and ended up chatting with a couple of nice fellows. On the other side of us, a table of four girls arrived and sat down. I sensed them staring at us, and noticed how they gestured toward my new sandal. I knew it wasn't the beauty of my functional man-sandal, but the bit of my tattoo poking out from between the straps that drew their attention. I pretended I wasn't aware they were talking about me. Ben soon had them nicknamed. There was "Pink Girl" (for her T-shirt,) "Japanese Girl," because Ben thought she looked Japanese, "Spitty Girl," because she seemed to enjoy dropping large gobs of bubbly hork into the ashtray, and "60's Girl" because she was dressed a little retro in a long paisley baby-doll top and white capris with a pouffy bouffantish doo and giant hoop earrings. These were tough girls. All but Pink Girl were smoking at the table (very unusual) and their speech was peppered with eighteens and dog babies.

A conversation was struck up because 60's Girl told us to "shut up" as Ben and I hummed the theme from Jeopardy. I think we were deliberating on another crooked kettle. "What?" I asked. "Shut up?"
"No, no, no!" smiles and hand waving abounded. "Where are you prom-uh?" Subject changed.

A few moments later I returned from the washroom to find that Ben had joined their table. So I sat down on a stool Japanese Girl was patting beside her. Two guys had arrived as well, so now we were a group of eight. It was alright, "cheers" all around for a little while. Their group settled up first and left, but they beckoned to us from across the street as we exited, where they were parked in plastic chairs outside a convenience store. They invited us to join them in the park across the street. Inside the Family Mart, I bought a round of beers for everyone. When 60's Girl realized it was 'on me', she scurried her two Hite tall-boys back to the cooler and opted for a couple Heinekens. Double the price. Whatever. I was already very aware that she was a Princess. She demonstrated an inflated sense of entitlement, spoke in Whine, and ladled out cruel comments toward everyone in her vicinity.

We settled down in a wooden gazebo, cracked our cans of beer and cheers-ed each other. The night was warm, but there was a nice breeze. Everyone was in a fine mood, but it was getting a bit late. So Pink girl and her boyfriend headed out, followed by Ben, who had to work at six in the morning, and then Spitty Girl. I'd finished my beer and was thinking about heading across the road for one more before I called it a night, when the guy 60's Girl was snuggling up to offered me his Heineken, which was 3/4 full.

60's Girl protested, whining at length while smacking her new fella on the arm. She kept this up for a couple minutes, and also started gesturing at me with a classic Korean angry-face. Koreans can do angry-face like nobody I've ever seen. It's a wide eyed, knitted-eyebrow snarl. They'll cuss you quickly between bared clenched teeth, while they jut their chins out repeatedly to punctuate their curses. I usually find it pretty funny, actually. But coming from this twenty one year old,...too much.

I started out with a growled, "Look, I didn't ask for his beer but even if I'd wanted to, see this? See all these beers? I paid for them,....they're all mine!"
She continued to curse at me.
And I raised my voice.
And she flashed her teeth and gestured threateningly toward me.

And I LOST it.
Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I so completely blew my lid. I stood up and scuh-REAMED at her. I suggested she think about removing her snarl from her face, or I was going to remove her face from her face. She remained belligerent for awhile, until she realized that I might kill her. I think maybe it was my foaming at the mouth and tearing my hair out to throw at her.
I'm kidding.
But I was just livid.
And truly, it wasn't all about her by any means. I've felt so frustrated and strange and messed up over the past couple weeks - I know I was a volcano that was only barely still dormant. She was the straw for my camel-back, but oh, what a straw!
Soon enough she ended up in a ball in the middle of the gazebo, squished in tight to her man who was urging her to apologize, which she did, in a sing-song-la-dee-dah-not-sorry-at-all manner. "Sorry? My ASS, you're sorry!"

So I bellowed some more and whipped the can of Heineken at her head. (Truly, I wasn't aiming at her head. It whizzed by about a foot away from her right ear.) But it got her to start apologizing in earnest.
And suddenly my storm passed. "Go home." I pointed at them. "You. All of you. Go home, now."
I backed away so they could get themselves together and scramble off.

I watched as my skin faded from the deep olive green it had turned and the Hulk rage subsided. I was David Banner again. Easy going scientist teacher. Mild mannered me. Sort of.

I found an episode of The West Wing I watched last night to be interesting. One of the characters, Donna, had been in a horrible accident. When she was saying she wasn't ready to "talk to someone" about what had happened, she noted that she was experiencing classic symptoms, "quick to anger, and apt to cry over nothing." Check, check.

The body is quite the machine. Mine's healing well. But, it's my psyche that's messed up. As I sat solitary in the aftermath of my tornado, I realized every time I'm faced with trauma to my spirit, it's like I'm picking at the barely healed scabs that cover my heart. They're old wounds, and they're terribly slow to heal. When they're re-opened I can almost feel the poison leaking through myself.

I mentioned "faking it 'til you make it" before, but maybe even as I'm "making it" with my usually optimistic sunshiney attitude, I'm actually just faking it. Deep in my heart lies a Hulk.


It's Me... Maven said...

Fake it to make it, indeed.

Hold fast. This, too, shall pass.

And you know what? She deserved it, regardless:)

Kevin said...

I think we all have an inner Hulk. You've been through a helluva lot, so it's understandable that the Hulk manifested itself.

"Spoke in Whine"-- classic. I got exactly what you meant when I read that evocative turn of phrase. Way too many Korean girls pout and flounce and pretend they're five years old. Apparently, the guys here think that's sexy. I tell my Smoo girls to stop that shit-- the "ae-gyo," the cutesy act. It's a complete turn-off.


scott said...

You always have the best stories. I would've preferred it if you had emptied the can of beer over her ridiculous hat, but the Engraged Hulk routine seems to have worked nicely.

It's Me... Maven said...

I have to agree with Scott!

sher said...

Yes, she did deserve it. And you're going through a huge amount of hellacious events. So, you're entitled.

And this was a great post. You make me feel like I was right there with you.