Sunday, August 19, 2007


A Letter to "Blue"

Dear Generic Model That Came from the Supermarket,

Can I call you “Blue?” Not very original, I know, but you’ve got one of those familiar looks about you that makes you hard to distinguish. Anyway, I guess I haven’t been very considerate lately, and I’m sorry about that. You have a very valuable part to play in the life of not only myself, but in the lives of all people.

I can recognize that, I just think it’s unfortunate that we had to meet in Korea, of all places. You’ve got to admit, this isn’t the ideal place for one such as you and I to get acquainted. In most countries, people talk about the weather when they don’t want to talk about anything else, like their ne’er-do-well-son or their failed 2000 presidential bid.

However, in Korea, we talk about the weather all the time. It damages the economy, makes us sick, and ruins wardrobes. It does all these things through of its inconsistency. From the time I wake up at 6 in the morning to the time the first class I teach starts at 7 it’s never raining, so I go to school and I always leave you behind.

Then, at anywhere from 7:18 to 8:36, the rains begin. Usually, it persist until I leave the institute and have to walk to the textbook office. Of course, many relationships, I think of you then because I need you. The point is, don’t think I don’t understand your value.

It hardly ever rains in this country for 10 months of the year, then in July the floodgates in the heavens open. Well, sort of; it stops and starts raining about 15 times a day until the end of August. Though grayish-blue clouds loom overhead, I often abandon you in those circumstances because, well, you’ve got to admit, if it’s not rainy you’re about as helpful as Major League Baseball’s current policy on steroids.

However, this past weekend I think I learned my lesson. My girlfriend came to see me and I went to meet her in downtown Seoul. I thought I wouldn’t need you, since I was going to spend most of the time in the subway and then in her car. However, when I arrived at our appointed destination, she then told me to walk to the Insadong shopping district.

Naturally, it had started to rain. I know you’re feeling neglected and overlooked, but don’t think I didn’t suffer, okay? Not only did I get rained on, but when I finally met up with her, I had to use her umbrella. Not only is her umbrella a little small for your tallish Western man, but it’s completely covered with purple flowers.

I miss Blue, was all I could think. Well, that and, What is the deal with the weather in this country?

As far as our relationship goes, you know could be worse. You’ve received much better treatment than that of your predecessors. There was Ebony, who was with me during Suncheon’s blizzard of 2005. Then there was Burgundy, who shielded me during the rainy season in Chuncheon last summer. Both of them are probably still in those cities, sitting alone in the institutes I taught at. Current employees are probably still walking past them every day, assuming that the one who brought them there will be by to pick them up at any moment.

You see, when we don’t need you, you’re not that noticeable. I know you should be. It’s no coincidence that when I forgot you last week I had the sniffles for days afterward. Other foreign teachers in my institute have overlooked the usefulness of your kin and ended up with pneumonia.

Here in Korea, you and your breed are used all the time, and not just to stay dry. You are also employed to shield ladies from the sun, since unlike in the West, Korean women dislike having dark skin tone. Help from you and yours, a diet of vegetables and steady aerobic workouts all help them come closer to their ideal, which apparently involves looking like they survived spending months in the North Korean Gulag.

(Hmm, just between you and I, “The North Korean Gulag Diet” would probably be a hit here. Remind me to pitch that sometime.)

But not all of your kind are created equal. When I forget to bring you along, sometimes the ladies I work with lend me theirs. Unfortunately, these are probably closer to “parasols” than “umbrellas,” and provide somewhat inadequate coverage. When I arrive indoors, I’m usually dry everywhere except my arms below the shoulders and my legs below the waist.

(Hmm, just between you and I, what would a better name for such a wardrobe? “The Parasol in Rainy Season?” How about “Wet Limbs?” We’ll discuss this later.)

So, let’s make a deal: I’ll try to remember you more often, if you’ll try to make yourself more noticeable. I’m always the one who has to initiate; you just sit there waiting. I think you can do better.

I mean, I did spend nearly $5 on you.


PS-I know your arm is broken, but I’m afraid there’s no cure. Sorry.

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