I had to go to work on Saturday. Usually, I get the weekends off, but I’m the head teacher in the high school. Therefore, I must pull extra duty from time to time.
Our school had a special guest. His name is Mr. Kim, and he’s an educational consultant from Seoul, Korea. His English is perfect. He interviewed some of the tenth and eleventh grade students while the leadership team—including the principal—looked on.
The first pupil’s name was Rudolf Li. He sat in a chair across from Mr. Kim. The Korean held the poor boy transfixed with his steely gaze.
“Rudolf, how many novels do you read a year?”
“About five or seven.”
“That’s not enough! You should finish a minimum of thirty-six books per twelve-month period. If you don’t do this, you’ll never get into a top-fifty American university. Do you understand?”
“Now how many words do you memorize per week?”
“The teacher gives us vocabulary, but I don’t really memorize the list. We use the words in sentences and essays.”
“That’s not good! In fact, I’d call it lazy. You should memorize a minimum of two-hundred words per week. You can’t get into a top-fifty university without a good vocabulary. Why aren’t you writing this down?”
“What time do you usually go to bed?”
“Ten? That’s too much sleep! Are you a baby? You should study until eleven p.m. every night. Then you should read a novel written in English from eleven to midnight. After that, you can go to bed.”
The principal asked my opinion on the matter.
I said, “Have we decided to go Asian style, because a lot of what Mr. Kim is saying flies right in the face of western educational best practices? Your asking teenagers to pull a seventeen-hour workday. Some might consider that schedule abusive.”
He said, “Our students are having too much fun. They need to get more serious. Life is going to kick their little asses.”
“Well, you’re the boss. You tell me what to do, and I’ll bring your instructions to the other teachers. But they aren’t going to like it. You’ll probably get a lot of pushback.”
He shot me a big toothy Asian grin. “It’s our new way doing things. We want our students to attend the best universities in the world.”
I left the meeting feeling depressed. Wherever a Korean goes, chaos and disappointment are sure to follow. It’s my sincere hope that one day President Trump will finally wake up and include them in the travel ban.
On Sunday, we rode the subway to Dr. Sexy’s office. She capped three of my teeth. Two in the front got a porcelain cover while one in the back was fitted with gold.
I used to have a crush on Dr. Sexy, but I now associate her face with extreme pain. Needless to say, she no longer gives me a Woodrow.
Later that night, we went to Dominoes pizza. I ordered a thin-crust pepperoni pie with no cheese. Most dairy products make me gag. The meal was delicious.
The Dragon Lady said, “In winta, we go Thailand.”
I said, “No, we’re not. In fact, we are staying in Beijing.”
“I don’t have the money for a swanky vacation. Besides, we’re saving our cash to purchase an English academy in Korea.”
“You da fucken asshoe. You not my boss.”
“If you go, don’t come back.”
“Maybe I won’t.”
“It’s your choice.”
Yesterday was a Chinese holiday, so I stayed home and watched the NFL. Tom Brady looks every bit of his forty-one years. He barely completed half of his passes, and the Patriots got drubbed 26 to 10 by the Lions. The passage of time depresses me. I’m now fifty fucking years old. I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Oh well. What’s a boy to do?