Sunday, January 15, 2006

From the Cave: Preying Mantis

Preying Mantis
So there I was reading the newspaper at a small round table. Then those unbelievable legs appeared. Now I understand the mating ritual of the preying mantis. But I was having a hard time deciding which I preferred more, considering how close one had gotten me to the other. Object of interest…incredible legs at twelve or Paul Martin’s latest fiascos at ten and three-thirty. I prefer flamenco fracas. What some guys are willing to do to get a little. Do some girls get you with the back of the head? She may be expecting some tail feather display, so I have gathered up these scattered quills. Did she know I have a thing for female basketball players? Ink in the art of it, all of a sudden if I even had that, all of my suction cups would have been all bunched together. Or are those my clinging vines? It is an ape-like response I admit. Something of Carl Jung. Not inaction, but awareness of beauty, and fine skin, the physical treasuries of youth and beauty. Like a butterfly on my nose. That I cannot touch. At least not without permission. The coded keys of entry are confusing. One can be at times overawed and complementary. But some posteriors are out to prove memory that one has not seen anything yet. I must arrange my carpets and clean my teapot. I might stain the divan for that little belly dancer.

My father has never been a risk taker. In recent history. I started investing in mutuals a year after him. He is quite frank about real estate. But he has softened to, “They are not making any more of it”. My mother is the real entrepreneur, the wheeler-dealer. She would rather money going into land than old trucks.

I remember Lee Min from Beijing. She was a well-liked and friendly Chinese instructor. She was quite tall as far as North Chinese girls. She had an excellent sense of humour. For us it revolved around the ping-pong table. The students would accommodate us in their lounges, and it was a fun challenge, Team Canada versus Team China. Lee Min was a neighbour, a good healthy cook, and a civilized conversationalist among giggling teenaged girls. She enjoyed attending my classes, practicing in small group discussions and some of our hill-side lectures.

Lee Min is among a privileged traveling and educated class of Chinese academics, who take contracts for educational services all over the world. But the tragedy of her marriage was in the reality of its distance. She was married ten years before giving birth and the child lives with her mother for the years she lives abroad. Her husband was living in Yugoslavia.
A journalist who died in the bombing was one of her husband’s close friends. I found out about this during greeting cards exchanged at Christmas or Chinese New Year. Then I stopped receiving them.

I remember the paragliding, flying fools from ABB Engineering. The Swiss and Germans are serious about paragliding, almost as serious as about consuming vast quantities of barbeque and home made rice wine with a punch. I remember a German complaining about a long assignment away from home. He was worried about his marriage. He consumed to excess. Then in a flurry, after riding through the darkened rice paddies and back roads of Chirisan, listening to Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits, the German was walking along the bridge of a rainy season spillway. The last we saw of him, was his folding over the railing, literally passing out on his feet. He ended up twelve feet below, on concrete, on his head. The whole drinking party rode with him to the hospital; this is common practice in South Korea. He was given medical leave for sick months, due to strained neck muscles. Wonder who taught him how to do that?

One dusk and windy evening, on the roof of my residence on the mountain, I was climbing out a hatchway to hang my wet laundry. As quick as the bludgeon that it was, the metal bar supporting the spring mechanism of the door dropped its screws, and swung in an engineered arch right into the bridge of my nose. Staunching the wound was not my first reaction. I was checking to see if I still had my right eye. The emergency ward was full of people who wanted to pull on my nose. I insisted that only the doctors handle it, and thus stitch it. It was the middle of oral exams. All my appointments would need to be canceled and redone. The doctor explained that there would be necessary surgery, as the x-ray showed that the bone had been depressed. Apparently it would be ether, and then a day recovery. The anesthesiologist was a friend of a co-worker. Just before putting me under, she was asking for private lessons. I never did take her up on the offer. As a result, I guess, I was kept for seven days, with as much gauze as possible in the nose, it was built up like a clown beak. Everybody who came to visit could not help laughing. I was afraid the scar would be quite noticeable. The bruising around the eyes was unbelievable. It was like I was beaten up by Rocky. Plus for a month after I talked like Pee Wee Herman. One of my other co-workers was the wife of a plastic surgeon, educated in the States, at one of the Carolina Universities. In Korea, mostly hymens are sewed back on, and double eye-lids are created. He and his wife had been married in a scuba ceremony in Thailand. His wife had told my story and how the university wanted me to pay the hospital bills. He did a follow up examination to certify the work of the hospital, and provided special pinching strips to minimize the scar tissue. It worked. But I am sure my eye lashes felt the brush of metal.

As a sidebar, the anesthesiologist committed suicide. Apparently she had lost a husband, years ago, and never recovered from the loss. Korean women over the centuries have pitched themselves, like so many lost Juliets, over hills and mountain peaks. I remember she had said her husband lived in Seoul, also quite common, but she left two orphan children behind her. I had felt my other coworker had not been able to help her resolve her problems. He announced her death, and declared she had threatened to do it before. I always thought maybe he could have gotten up and called somebody. But ultimately if some one really wants to do that can anyone really stop them? It is a greatest sadness maybe when people do not see their own choices as being more broad, with alternatives.
Loneliness, or an ability to cherish somewhat, our individual aloneness, is it not the great heartbreaker of our times? Do we interact as sober individuals, or do we seek to exist as coexistent entities in a web of interaction? Do we value the interaction, as our now times, our present connection to humanities, our courtesies, kindness, respect, and compassion for strangers, is it well developed? Do we exist as our accumulated selves?

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