Being in a relationship is hard. I tell this to So Gee as we eat at an Outback in Seoul. We have just gotten done having a fight. It is our third in the past year. The first two were at public places as well. The first was her telling me not to eat McDonald's in Suyu. That made me mad. I like Big Macs. The second I don't remember. This one was her warning me that my behavior in the restaurant could be deemed inappropriate.
"In Korea, if you repeat what people say in Korean, they could get offended. They might think you are mocking them."
"I'm not though. I'm just trying to learn the language."
"But they might think-"
"I don't care what they think. Why would I live like that? You know my intention."
"I'm just saying what they might think in Korea."
Sometimes I love resistance in the face of propriety. I call out in the middle of the restaurant. I shout various things:
"Akalaka ding dong!"
Nothing means anything. They are just names of different food dishes in Korea.
When the waitress comes to take our order, I talk in jibberish. I make noises in a sing-song that sounds like "Icky-ticky-ah-yeah-yeah-yeah bulgogi suck it."
So Gee doesn't talk to me until she finishes her cheese fries. This is her way. She has made it clear in the past: "If I am mad, I don't speak. I only talk when I am rational."
I continue making noises for twenty seconds. Then I get bored. I eat cheese fries for five minutes. Neither of us speak. Then So Gee stands from her seat, walks to my right, and shoulders me into moving over. She puts her head on my shoulder. We wait for the bill.
"I don't think she understood what you meant when you asked for the bill."
"You mean 'ookie-aka-sookie" doesn't mean anything?" I ask, as I scribble on an imaginary notepad with my hands.
"No," she smiles.
"Then let's go talk to her."
We stand outside of our booth. The French Open is playing on the television set in the background. I cannot understand a single word anyone is saying around me. I make the international sign for check to our waitress across the restaurant. She rushes over. She talks to So Gee in Korean. I imagine I have instantaneously become fluent. I begin a one person show. Lights dim in the restaurant, as a stagehand puts a stool behind me. I sit. I light a smoke. I begin my tale. It starts with a joke about Paris Hilton. I use this entry because I know Korean culture. I know she has just done a Filas advertisement and bought another chihuahua. I know it is image and the plays within it that this materialistic culture responds to. I dance after my joke. I materialize an audience laughing harder. They call out for the joke again. I can't say a word though. My fluency has disappeared. I am in an Outback Steakhouse. My "bulgogi" rings out in the restaurant once more. So Gee turns away from me with a smile on her face. I think, "If my mind operated on any another frequency, I would be so bored."
"You are so bad," So Gee says.
"Yes," I agree. "Completely naughty."
What It Means To Be Human
1 week ago