Just Eric – Part 7
And then stuff just started to get weird. I wasn’t just a regular office worker anymore, or an irregular white guy working at in office in Seoul, nor was I teaching kids how to be cool in an All-English South Korea, or even just another person caught up in the mess of the North Korean refugee crisis – any one of those things would have been extraordinary weird for any foreigner to experience over here – but I was then considered the coolest guy in the entire country. I lost any self awareness of what was happening to me once I really started to actually feel that cool. I mean, I’d always figured I was cool, just not in the Hollywood way we portrayed it in the cool school classes. I thought of myself as a loner on the fringe who did his own thing and didn’t care what anybody else thought; however, once I became the center of attention I probably became just as self-absorbed and shallow as everyone else (no offense). Even thinking about it now makes me feel that way again, it’s very dangerous, so I can’t really be trusted for where the story goes from this point forward – I’m just warning you.
My face was plastered all over print ads and billboards for the new gibberish curriculum we were offering. I’d filmed commercials, met with dignitaries, spoke at galas and presented my ideas to crowds in the thousands, all of which was in gibberish. I’d bought into what I was selling completely, thinking this type of language nonsense would really help the people in Seoul, from the North or South, to come together. The South Koreans no longer had to measure themselves by their ability in the newly adopted language of their country, and the North Koreans didn’t have to struggle to use the language that everyone here had to pretend to understand. Instead they could just be experts at whatever came out of their mouths, and this should free them up to express themselves more fluently. And it worked, at least that’s what everyone was telling me. The more stuff I would say somehow made more people around me happy. I used gibberish with such confidence that I was treated like a star and asked to impart this wisdom on the others. When I told them what to do, and they did it, whatever that was, even I wasn’t that sure anymore.
The head office was now the official home of the trademarked gibberish language craze. Crowds of people gathered at the front door of the building all wanting to get a hold of me. Mostly these were women were mothers begging me to tutor their kids in the gibberish language technique. They thought that learning gibberish from the guy who invented it would be better than others, even though the point of using gibberish was that anyone was an expert, there were no levels. I tried to kindly explain this to the women and, although they were persistent, I would eventually refuse to tutor them. However, when I was approached by young women it was more tricky to say no since every single one of them looked so incredibly beautiful. And they all wanted me! So, okay, maybe I went out and helped a few of them with their gibberish practice here and there. The more they insisted, and the rest of the world too, that I was the ultimate expert the better I felt. All those ads and speeches talking about my genius powers, well, I believed it – I was it whatever it was and it was awesome.
As popular and rich as I was, for some reason I was still taking the subway into the office everyday from my crappy, cheap apartment in the suburbs. No one really seemed to care who I was while on the subway, as long as I wanted them to leave me alone they would. I was just another drone in the crush of those morning crowds, not the star creator of the biggest trend in the country. One day, after breaking through the crowds of adorning fans at the head office, and begrudgingly accepting a few numbers from the university girls who needed my help improving their gibberish, I made my way to the subway entrance for my trek back home. The crowds of homeless North Koreans and commuting South Koreans parted for me to walk through unobstructed, but just before I was about to hit the stairs going down into the station the crowd opened up on a pair a gorgeous legs in shiny black diamond shoes. Strangely, the legs didn’t move out of the way so I stopped and followed their slink outline right up to the perfect curve of hips, beautiful shape of breast, and ending at a face so stunning that looking into it was seeing the sun cry crystal tears. She looked back at me while taking a drag from a thin white cigarette, smoke vacuuming to her body and steaming off of every point of articulation on her doll-like body. Long, springy hair was pulled tight and tied back in a ponytail with a black bow that exploded into curls. Everything adorning her looked expensive, from the platinum earrings and matching bracelets to the black handbag that matched the deep colour of the rest of her outfit, hair and eyes. The brightest and only colour that came from her was a nuclear red on her plump lips. I just stood there with a little bit of drool trickling out of the side of my gaping mouth, foolishly staring.
I knew I needed to say something to her, it was obvious we were the only two people not squashed into the rush of human traffic on the street, magically separated from the pack by my sheer force of will. Forgetting completely about all things gibberish, I just mumbled something in English when I stepped up to her and did the only thing I could think of at the moment: ask for a cigarette. “Uhm… do you have a… I mean, obviously you have it, but could you give to me, or rather, would you like me to have a cigarette too?” Expressionless, she just let smoke drift out from her lips. So I put two fingers to my own lips to imitate the act of smoking and she nodded faintly, reached into her handbag, pulled out a heavy looking silver case, popped it open and held it forward. My hand quivered as I took a cigarette from the case and put it in my mouth. In a flash, she lit the cigarette with a snap of her fingers and I inhaled back with choking surprise.
I’d never been a smoker before, maybe a few times early on in high school, and just like then my coughing reaction left a losery impression. With a tiny smile on her pouty, thick lips, she removed the sunglasses that were hanging in her shirt collar crux, exposing a sliver of cleavage like a triangle of park field after a calm snowfall, and then hid her eyes behind the designer darkness. Quickly, she closed her bag, discarded her cigarette butt, walked towards the street and stepped into an all black taxi. Stunned, I looked next to me and just babbled, “did you see how hot that girl was?” The man kissed his teeth and said, “Shesuh Kortuh puhrincessuh, ah eebuhluh puhrincessuh.”
For the next few days I tried to distract myself from thinking about that North Korean Princess. Whenever I replayed that moment in my mind I started to do everything poorly and when I snapped out of it I became a terrible person and lashed out at whoever was around me. For example, now at the office, I was the Supervisor of the Add-ucation Development Department (ADD) and the ex-Supervisor was supposed to be creating material with the rest of the staff like I used to, but the burden of the work with the gibberish mostly fell on my shoulders. The process was pretty simple, I took all the files for the textbooks and class material that we’d used for the cool school classes and then re-wrote that English into gibberish. The number of actual phrases would stay the same but the letters and order were completely changed into nonsense. I didn’t trust anyone to actually create the gibberish other than me. So the rest of the staff in the ADD just checked my work to make sure that it never conflicted or repeated. I demanded all the gibberish be perfectly unique, and vowed in every interview that no gibberish words would ever be the same – that promise of expert quality was the basis of our advertisements and reason why our classes were sold out all over the country. I must have been drifting off thinking about the North Korean Princess at one point while writing up the gibberish and possibly started to repeat myself. Then a few hours later the ex-Supervisor came to tell me that she’d found those repeating words in the batch of gibberish I’d last submitted. My response was an angry tirade, “What are you talking about you idiot? That’s impossible! Gibberish is gibberish, it can never be the same, I just gave you – and everyone here – this job so that you’ll have something to do, but you can’t tell ME that I’m wrong! Perhaps you’d like to join your boyfriend Steven, another idiot, on the unemployment line, if that even exists here? More like the two of you will be another one of those horny pack of embarrassing kids on the street having sex right in front of the North Koreans. Trust me, I know all about the disgusting stuff you two got up to, Steven told me every detail, what else would you expect from someone like that? In fact, he told me about everything he did with every one of you, and you should be ashamed of yourselves, seriously, that guy is a total loser and if you had any idea what he was really like you’d be so embarrassed, but all this cool school garbage made you so easy, it’s funny really. Now get to work and don’t bring me any more of this nonsense.” I had to apologize for that one later (at least, I thought I should even though I didn’t really mean it), and so I stood up later and gave a nice gibberish speech that won everyone back over to my side with warm applause and friendly smiles.
Bringing up Steven like that was especially rough in front of the other women since I’m pretty sure none of them knew that the ex-Supervisor had started dating him before he was let go. As well, she’d actually told me he was doing okay these days at one of the big newspapers in Seoul. Since he was a native English speaker, right away he started to get assigned all the big stories over the more seasoned reporters. Although it was a lower paying job than in the cool school industry, he thought it was more stable because the news would always need to be written in coherent English. However, the editors seemed to be ‘accidentally’ turning the newspaper into gibberish. Deadlines became tighter and the assignments more erratic, filling the final versions of the paper that went to press with typos and errors. Steven suspected that the writers wanted the whole thing to go gibberish since that would make them equally as expert in the language as someone like him who had no journalism experience but was getting all the work. If that happened, the ex-Supervisor said Steven would probably have to become a cool school teacher if he wanted to stay here.
Speaking of cool school teachers, my friend Ken was still teaching at the school where we’d met, and kept me updated constantly on how the gibberish was working over there. He liked using it and had no problems understanding what to do but the other teachers, including his ex-girlfriend Catherine, were furious by this new content and intended to revolt if they had to use it much longer. I knew this was nonsense though because it’s the same thing I used to hear all the time about the cool school material, and as long as they were getting paid all that ridiculous money they were going to do exactly what they were told. Funny to put it that way, because it reminds me of a story about Ken being a phony that really surprised me around then. Ken and I were dating flight attendants, both best friends actually, his girlfriend Veronica and mine Stacy, so we went on a trip to a ski resort one weekend. I’d hoped some physical activity would help me take my mind off of the North Korean Princess but when we got there the hills were packed with more of the North Korean refugees so it reminded me of her even more. It was super annoying because some of them were camping and large groups would get on their knees and slalom the down the hills on sweater sleeves pulled up over their wrists, making it almost impossible to snowboard (even though the South Koreans still pretended the North Koreans weren’t there and kept on trying). I complained about this constantly to Ken who didn’t seem to care, which made me even crazier. Realizing that he was bothering me, he told me that something bigger was frustrating him and confessed that all the boisterous tales he’d told me about his sex life with Veronica were a lie. She’d really been saving herself for marriage, although he’d hoped this trip was going to be his big chance to get her alone in a hotel room and give it another try. Unfortunately for him the girls booked themselves into a separate room from us in a different part of the resort. I told him that I’d talk to my girlfriend Stacy about switching things up so that we could each have a room with one of the girls. I walked over to the other side of the compound, and it was pretty far, about twenty minutes away and by the time I got there Stacy was gone. Veronica invited me in and said that Stacy walked over to our room to pretty much suggest the same thing that I was going to do. Once Veronica the virgin got me alone, she pushed up against me and said that Stacy had told her about the sex we’d been having and she was incredibly turned on by it all. I could tell she wasn’t wearing panties beneath her pajama bottoms as she started to lightly grind against my thigh. She said that she likes Ken but doesn’t want to lose her virginity to a guy like that and then started undoing a few buttons on her pajama top, moving her lips closer to my ear and whispered that she wanted to lose it to me. Since Ken is my only good friend here, and the guy who actually helped me hook up with Stacy in the first place, I didn’t want to betray him, or Stacy of course I guess, so we just made out for a few minutes and then I let her blow me.