In April of 1997, I was relaxing in the television room and enjoying a cigarette with horny Old Linda. I used to purchase a brand of smokes called Omar Shariff. A pack of Omars cost approximately $1.20. They were considered quite expensive at the time. I sat in a comfortable recliner, gazing out the window. The sun was very bright.
Linda suddenly spoke up. “Have you thought about seeing a Korean prostitute?”
I said, “Not really.”
“Not really? What does that mean?”
I remained quiet hoping that she would find another topic to discuss.
She cleared her throat. “I’m glad that prostitution is legal in Korea. Women should be allowed to sell their bodies if they wish. I hate puritans.”
The nasty old pervert smiled at me. “This topic makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t it? I bet you’ve seen hookers in the past.” She laughed out loud. “Don’t worry. There’s no shame in it. Guys function better when they get their rocks off.”
“Why do you want to hear dirty stuff from my past?”
“Who says seeing a prostitute is dirty? You’re being very puritanical. I love talking about sex. In fact, I consider myself a sexologist.”
Suddenly, Scotty walked into the room with two other guys. He introduced them as Brandon and Yvonne. Yvonne had a left ear which was easily three times larger than his right ear. I couldn’t help staring at it. He was also carrying an acoustic guitar.
Scotty said, “They work in Nonsan. However, they’re on loan to our company for the next several weeks. Mr. Song needs them for an afternoon class.”
Yvonne said, “It’s a bunch of bullshit. We’re required to drive all this way for a single hour of work. Then we have to drive all the way back to teach classes in the evening.”
I said, “Nonsan is supposed to be wonderful. It has a giant statue of the Buddha.”
Yvonne chuckled. “It’s anything but wonderful. Nonsan is considered the boondock's by Korean standards. My contract specifically states that my school is supposed to be in Daejeon. My recruiter lied to me.”
Brandon said, “It’s not that bad. There are plenty of bars, and compared to Canada, the beer and cigarettes are nice and cheap.”
I said, “How’s the housing?”
Before Brandon could answer, Yvonne started strumming his guitar and singing Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here at the top of his lungs.
He smiled at Linda. “Do you think my voice is beautiful?”
Linda said, “It’s about as beautiful as your face.”
“I bring this guitar to work every day. The kids love it when I play Gordon Lightfoot.”
Linda sneered at him. “You don’t say.”
“Do you want to know what happened to my ear?”
He went on with the story, anyway. “What can I tell you? I was born without it, so the doctors had to fashion a new one. The year was 1966 and technology wasn’t great back in those days. Sadly, they constructed this monstrosity which you see plastered to my head. But I’m not bitter. I have God on my side. Did you know that I’m an ordained preacher? I’m a beer-drinking Baptist.”
Linda’s sour expression remained unchanged, but I was quite impressed. “You’re really a minister?”
“That’s right. Ordained and everything.”
“Did you ever work in a church?”
“No, my first job was in a hospital. I was a morale officer. The gig paid very well.”
“I was fired.”
“I got the unfair reputation for being bad luck. Lots of my patients ended up expiring, so people kept calling me the Angel of Death. My career went downhill from there.”
Linda chuckled. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No,” he said sadly. “Hell, I wish I was. It was my dream job. But that’s OK. When one door closes, another one opens.”
I patted him affectionately on the shoulder.
“Well, I’m certainly glad that you’re here. And I can’t wait to visit you guys down in Nonsan. I’d love to see that statue.”
Brandon said, “Why don’t you come this Friday?”
“Friday’s great. I’ll see you both then.”