I was explaining to this friend who had lived ten years in Russia about American Music and how 'everybody' hates teeny-pop. I ended my sentence with a slight flourish at the end that just implied that I too agreed with the common opinion. A tiny flourish, just subtle enough, unnoticeable to the naked ear, like the slight upturn at the end of a pair of red glossed lips, or the slight recession in a block of stone, made by decades and decades by drops of loud dripping water off ancient tiled rooftops.
And he replied simply, without hesitation. "How childish."
Those words sucked me in, and I found myself saying numbly with a mouth-laugh, "Yeah, heh, isn't it so?" and closed the subject from further discussion with a twist-tie out of my back pocket. It left me feeling numb, truthfully, and I couldn't help but stare down at my bland accent and it's common articulation and wonder where I was living, to have been fooled all these years, to be shocked by a simple flick of the wrist and a clack of the tongue.
Anecdotes. I watched the last ten minutes of a movie in which this person was shaking, delivering her solioquy to the world, delicately rehearsed just enough that it wasn't awkward and dove to the point, wings folded and streamlined Jonathan Fletcher-style. Either the camera was jiggling badly or her face was, because her mouth and her lips and her eyes were going up and down and up and down like this miniature earthquake, like in all the safety pamphlets that tell you to get under your desk and wait like obedient lambs waiting for the godly catastrophes overhead to pass. I could see the trouble brewing underneath, but now it wasn't 'trouble' but a filming technique that dominated the screen and shook it like a giant roaring rushing sound to me. To me only, because before she finished I turned it off with a flick of my hand and the cruel remoteness of an indifferent gesture that had killed millions and would cripple billions to come, and to come.
I found my role model. For the whole of my life I thought my role model would be a Nobel laureate or a college professer, someone who would transform my life with a few words and a warm smile that would crinkle at the edges of the eyes. It had to be a man, with wispy gray clouds congregating at the edges of a shiny bald head like a halo around Mount Vesuvius. The clouds would mean wisdom, and I would watch him and become 'wildly' influenced: Like a bar of metal next to an electric field, all the haphazard elements of my life would jump to attention and assort themselves, and from then would be cruise control on empty airport highways in taxis cruising to Seoul Train Station at 180km/hr escorting two foreigners to a train at top speed. We were stuck to the seat, she said, and after we got out, the foreigners applauded their appreciation. She told them to grab a taxi and to pay the driver 'one green bill', and we laughed together because the expression was so remote yet so quaintly precise.
She was something, an object of friendly reverence, remote and yet so earthy, like an avatar of some distant sage in the body of a newborn child, bawling of the end of the world, all because of a dirty diaper, small and superficial and immensely important. She was the toasted dry rice on the bottom of a computerized pressurized rice cooker, the bastard love child of a fusion between two worlds that lent her all the attractiveness and the magnetic pull that no-one else could ever muster. She pulled my cheeks and told me that she would like a son like me, and told me to take trips alone to faraway lands to meet friends and to find dreams, or so she said. She was a live moving cardboard pop-out of a movie poster, perfect and not, with a gray recycled bland cardboard behind with the nitty-gritty details gone elsewhere, just behind the horizon, just only.