After 9/11: A Korean Girl’s Sexual Journey by Younghee Cha©
Chapter Sixteen…Dog Meat Stew

6/30/2002…After Sunday Mass, I had a chat with Father Scott. I told him I had a full-time job starting
the next day. He congratulated me and smiled broadly, but he didn’t mention Jose. I guessed that
was due to my attending Mass without Jose for over six months. I didn’t ask Father Scott about Jose,
either.

Actually, I met Father Scott through Jose, who had met him at the DREAM Act-meeting. Jose liked
him a lot; after that, even though the church was far away from my apartment, we began to attend
Father Scott’s Mass. We nicknamed him “Will Smith.”

It started one Saturday morning, when Father Scott wore sunglasses—with his priest’s getup—at a
church backyard-event. He looked exactly like Will Smith’s character from Men in Black.
His smile was a masterpiece. Whenever he grinned broadly, showing his bright teeth, I thought it
even looked holy. He seemed to be born a priest. On the other hand, he liked to make jokes. In fact,
after we christened him “Will Smith,” he sometimes imitated Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
He asked what was going on with my screenwriting. I just smiled, and he mentioned that I should
keep my American dream.

After I returned from church, I called my mom in Korea. Before congratulating me, she said that if
she could send more money, I could focus on my American dream. I explained to her that money
was hardly the reason I got a job. My priority was a green card to stabilize my life here. And, I
added, she could stop sending me money now.

Before I hung up, I asked about my younger brother. Mom told me that Dokdo was on break from
the Korean military; he and my brother had gone out for dog meat stew and soju.
I asked my mom how Dokdo was doing. She told me he was having a difficult time in the military, due
to being much older than most of his fellow recruits. I left her to tell them both that I said hi.

***

7/1/2002…It was my first day at my first full-time job. Summer was always lucky for me. At least, I felt
lucky.

OB Advertising Agency was a small company, with seven people: the President; the Creative
Director, who also happened to be the Copywriter; two Graphic Designers, including myself; two
Account Executives; and one Accountant. It wasn’t a big corporation, but its billing was relatively
high because it had a big client—an automobile company.

As soon as I started working there, I visited a lawyer who specialized in immigration-related cases.
The total cost was around $10,000. Even worse, if I could pay $1,000 more to USCIS, they would
give me the working visa sooner. Such were the USCIS rules, according to my lawyer. To be an
American citizen did not depend on the size of one’s dream, but on the size of one’s resources.
I ran up a $2,000 credit card-debt so that I could pay my lawyer. We began the necessary
procedures for getting me a working visa and a green card. My status leveled off…at least,
relatively. My credit card debt was mounting.

Nevertheless, I began to enjoy my new life in K-town, with assorted Korean Americans. I observed
them closer to find unexpected secrets and various dreams.

The first secret I learned from my co-workers was about my supposedly-moralist company-president’
s affair. The first week after I started working at OB, I visited the Masan Printing Company. My co-
worker, Miss M., told me to look closer at the female president of Masan, as we turned onto Pico
Boulevard…because the female president and my company’s boss were having an affair.

Even though she didn’t have sufficient management abilities to run Masan, she tried to hold onto it
anyway…because she wanted to maintain her relationship with my boss, who also helped her hold
onto the company. It was the best way for them to meet officially, pretending their meeting was due
to business.

I was shocked. The female president had a husband who worked in downtown Los Angeles; they
also had a young daughter and son.

“You know what? Every Monday or Wednesday, our president comes back late after lunch…and so
does the other president. They do something over lunch.” Miss M. smiled.

It was most ironic: my President was a self-proclaimed moralist. Whenever he talked about
somebody else’s affair, he really blamed them. Whenever co-workers said something sexual, he
came down hard on them for it. Yet he kept coming back late after lunch, every Monday or
Wednesday, and sometimes on both days. Whenever it happened, Miss M. and I exchanged a look.
My other co-worker was Mr. Jang, the Creative Director/Copywriter. Even though he moved to
America ten years earlier, his style was: “body in America, mind in Korea.”

Every morning, he read Korean news (via the internet). He always talked about Korea’s economic
and political status. Not only that, by exchanging e-mails with his old friends from high school…he
blamed his high-school soccer-team director’s quality, trying to get the director discharged. All of
this happened in Jeonju, South Korea, and he’d graduated from that high school 20 years ago. He
never even met the soccer-team director.

It reminded me of what Nara told me about a New Nomadic Age. By this time, she had given up her
research: Baby Boomers’ Communication Behavior. She began to study something about the New
Nomadic Age.

According to her, we’ve entered a New Nomadic Age. Even though people move here and there
faster and more often, we are all connected via the World Wide Web. Wherever we go, we always
know where our family members (also friends, colleges and alumni) are. Furthermore, wherever we
live, we know what’s going on…where we want to know it. Also, we can share our opinions about
that place.

In this way, all people need is a code—an e-mail address, or a blog name, or a personal
homepage—to communicate, to reach out and identify one another…not a real name, as there
could exist thousands of “John Smiths” in the world. Nara named the code as a Dot Media…each
person being a mere dot in the universe.

As a dot, Mr. Jang insisted he needed a vote for the South Korean presidential election. Never mind
that it had been 10 years since he’d been to South Korea.

The Accounting Executive, Mr. Kim, mentioned, “You don’t live in South Korea. How do you know
who is the best or not?”

“I know everything about South Korea, more than any other South Korean. And I want to care for
them.” Mr. Jang raised his voice.

“What do you care? You live in Los Angeles; this place is what you should care about. Los Angeles!
Do you know a single thing about L.A.?”

“What about Los Angeles? Beautiful weather, everybody is happy. It’s the City of the Angels!” Mr.
Jang wagged his finger in Mr. Kim’s face.

“That’s right. Los Angeles has more homeless people than any other city in the world: over 91
hundred vagrants out there…on every other corner. What if the Mexican military entered, accusing
California of not caring about the homeless? Just think about your own neighbors, and who your
real neighbors are.” Now it was Mr. Kim’s turn to wag his finger in Mr. Jang’s face.

The conversation between Mr. Kim and Mr. Jang got more and more heated, until they seemed on
the verge of blows.

There were really many different kinds of Korean Americans in L.A.’s K-town…where more Koreans
lived than anywhere else in the world, save Korea itself: 137 thousand, including 21,600 illegal
residents.

Somebody knew all about South Korea, including his hometown’s mayor’s dog’s name. Yet that
same somebody didn’t know who Bill Clinton is.

Somebody spoke three different languages. Yet somebody else couldn’t order a sandwich from
Subway in English, despite having lived here over twenty years.

Somebody got married five times before they were forty. Yet somebody else was a forty-year-old
bachelor.

Somebody “A” read four Korean novels a month. Yet Somebody “B” blamed “A” for reading Korean
books, even though “B” had never read any Korean OR English novels. “B” couldn’t read English
novels, because “B’s” English skills weren’t up to it. Consequently, “B” also couldn’t read Korean
novels, because “B” believed that it hindered the development of his English.

Somebody wasn’t surprised after being robbed of $7.5 million in cash from their mattress. Yet
somebody else considered suicide after being robbed of less than $10,000 from beneath a
desk…starting to work full-time. Yes, I began turning into one of those various Korean Americans.

***

July, 2002: Friday, second week…Celebrating my new employment with this company, my President
suggested a lunch party. We all went to the Sizzler, on Vermont Avenue.

Over lunch, Mr. Kim mentioned that the weather was really hot; if we were in South Korea on a day
like that one, we could go and eat dog meat stew.

“Right…especially in the hot days of summer; we used to go and eat dog meat stew,” Mr. Jang
exclaimed.

“Oh, please stop! I’ve got a dog; it’s like family to me!” Miss M. changed her face. “Seriously!”

Ignoring her, Mr. Jang stated, “You know what? Several European countries—and also Vietnam and
Cambodia and Mandarin China—eat dogs as well. Mandarin China’s population is 1.3 billion. That
means possibly twenty percent of Earth’s population eats dogs.” Then he pointed out that everything
Korea has, K-town has. There was one exception to this rule: dog-meat stew-restaurants.
The President brought his childhood to the table, recalling when he used to eat it with his family. Mr.
Jang and Mr. Kim also mentioned that neighbors in their own villages had shared dog meat stew,
especially in the summer.

When Mr. Jang spoke of his childhood, his eyes got misty; clearly, he missed his hometown. I
realized why he read Korean newspapers, via the internet, every morning. Maybe, somewhere in his
heart, there was a heavy load…which was made by yearning for his hometown. Maybe the load
brought tears to his eyes.

Yes, most people who crossed the Pacific Ocean after age twenty from Korea had memories of
eating dog meat stew…including me.

The last day I ate it, I was thirteen. That day was also the last time my family put it on the table at
home. Also, that was the last day my family talked about my mother’s re-marriage. And also, that
day was the last time I saw my grandmother lose her temper.

Several months before my uncle’s death, he skipped an entire semester of school…in order to
recuperate and receive treatment for his back-pain, at home. My grandmother’s anxiety about my
uncle’s discontinuing his studies was greater than her anxiety about his back-pain.

My uncle was my grandmother’s hope; actually, the real hope was that her son would graduate from
the university. So her wish was this: he would recover from his back problem as soon as possible,
and return to school. My uncle’s university graduation was almost a religion to my grandmother.
Therefore, she put all her efforts into recovering my uncle’s health—trying various means of helping
him-whatever she believed in. This included an hour of prayer on the rosary, early each morning.
On one occasion, she brought a big pot of dog meat stew from the restaurant…suggesting that only
my uncle eat it, to recover his health. Yet my uncle would have no part of it. Therefore, my
grandmother suggested the rest of my family eat it together, for the sake of the atmosphere. Then
my uncle would join in. Nevertheless, my grandmother didn’t like having my friend Dokdo join us at
the table, since the stew was expensive. Back then, Dokdo passed his spare time playing with me,
my little brother…and our uncle, whom Dokdo enjoyed a great deal.

The problem was that my uncle never liked it. He believed eating dogs was barbaric. Nonetheless,
for several days he tried eating it, just because his mother was obsessed with the stew.
One day, he announced that he could no longer keep it up. Nevertheless, my grandmother tried to
convince him—sometimes forcibly—that the stew was therapeutic.

“Dogs are our friends!” My uncle insisted.

My grandmother asked my uncle, Since when were dogs ever our friends? We’d been eating dogs
for the past five millenniums; then one morning, somebody said a dog was his friend and not to eat
it. Thank God they hadn’t mentioned chickens and pigs were our friends. Ignoring other countries’
cultures and customs, based on one’s own judgment, THAT was savage.

Than she hollered for him to shut up and finish his dog meat stew.

My uncle started talking about science. There was no scientific   evidence that dog meat stew was
good for one’s health.

“Science? Do you even know what science IS? Dog meat is a tonic food; traditionally, it has been so
for five thousand years. If it didn’t work, would people keep eating it? Look at acupuncture. You
remember how the West ignored acupuncture from the beginning, but now what? Recovering health
and easing pain, THAT’S science!” My grandmother hollered at him again.

I saw my uncle trying to conceal his anger. It was scary. My grandmother didn’t stop. “When the
West criticized it, acupuncture was non-scientific. Therefore, if we threw it away, nobody would have
discovered how great it is. Tradition is important, so don’t throw it away like some old pot.”
“Don’t use the word ‘tradition’ with me! ‘Tradition,’ indeed! Is that the reason you prevent your
daughter-in-law from remarrying? You want her to spend the rest of her life as a single mother…in
accordance with ‘tradition’? The way you’ve spent your whole life as a single parent, mother, ever
since you were forty years old? The world has changed; you can count on that.” My uncle’s blood
pressure was really up.

At that time, my family would have talked about my mother’s remarriage, so it wasn’t new.
Nevertheless, my grandmother lost her temper.

“Shut up! If you don’t like to eat, just get out! Get out, get out!” She slammed her fist down on the
table; the vibration made the room feel like Siberia. My uncle rushed out.

“That is not your business; you don’t know what’s going on here!” My grandmother yelled after him.
My mother, my younger brother and I didn’t know what to do; we were just frozen. Only Dokdo kept
eating as though nothing had happened, concentrating on his stew.

There were only two sounds: my grandmother’s angry breathing; and Dokdo’s chewing.
My ten-year-old brother said, “Don’t worry, grandmother. I will scold uncle after I get the power
through eating an entire dog’s worth of this stew.”

My younger brother was also crazy about dog meat. It looked like the same process which makes
American kids crazy over French-fries, and get used to “junk food.”

I also tried consoling grandmother, “You’re right, grandmother. My mother never thought about
remarriage. Why does my uncle bother about that? Mother, you will live with grandmother,
Youngsoo, uncle and me forever…right?”

Due to my word—or perhaps to my grandmother, who asserted a traditional life, or to some other
reason—my mother lost my dad when she was twenty-eight, yet she never remarried. Even though
she had a friend who remarried three times, my mother remained single. She had turned forty-
seven the previous month.

“Your dad was my destiny.” I remembered what my mother told me when I was a kid, and how she
loved the song You AreMy Destiny, by Paul Anka. I wondered if she was still listening to that song.
The world seemed to change altogether, and quickly at that. Nonetheless, there were some things
still rejecting the change, not following the mainstream. One of those things was my mother’s
thought of remarriage. One of those things was my younger brother’s—and Dokdo’s—thought of
eating and enjoying dog meat.

As a reminder of my childhood, I asked myself: What if my uncle had kept eating dog meat stew?
Could he have recovered, like my grandmother hoped?

I wondered…I wondered whether or not dog meat could have prevented my uncle’s death.


Chapter Seventeen…Korean & American Friendship Bell

There was a first-anniversary ceremony for 9/11, nationwide. “Ground Zero” had been cleaned up,
leaving a huge hole. Two big lights stood against terrorism.

In Los Angeles, an official ceremony climaxed at The Friendship Bell Park in San Pedro. The bell
was a gift from Korea to America, for her Bicentennial ceremony, to further the friendship between
both nations.

Many attended the ceremony, including the Mayor of Los Angeles. They all sang God Bless
America.

At church, there was a special Mass in memory of 9/11’s innocent victims. Following Father Scott’s
word, I prayed for all the people who had lost loved ones.

Coming back home, I remembered what had happened to me after 9/11.  Jose…Sunmi…A terrorist
working for North Korea…Insomnia…a masochist…LAPD Matt’s gonorrhea…

Yes, there was a sponsor for me to get a working visa and a green card. The green card erased all
my bad memories.

The following weekend, Mrs. Jang—my law-office manager—noticed that I had registered my paper
at USCIS. Feeling light as air, Nara and I decided to go to the Los Angeles Korean Festival to
celebrate my application.

Beginning on the first Thursday of October, the festival was held at the LA Convention Center and
continued throughout the weekend. I drove there alone. Nara wasn’t where we’d agreed to meet.
After waiting thirty minutes, I called to ask her what was going on.

Nara’s wet voice told me she was sick. She had forgotten. Instantly, I felt strange. She never forgot
a promise. She was one of the best-mannered people I’d ever known.

Suddenly, a bad omen forced itself into my head, reminding me of what Sunmi had told me a long
time ago. Sunmi thought there was something wrong between Nara and her husband, or at least
herself. I shook my head because I didn’t want to even think about Sunmi.

Anyway, I was already at the Korean Festival site. It was the first time I’d ever been to the festival. I
simply decided to stay there at least an hour.

The Los Angeles Korean Festival was much more fun than I expected. The first thing was…the food
court! There were hundreds of food booths in the Convention Center’s huge parking lot. There
were all kinds of Korean traditional food. I got really hungry just looking around.

There was also a variety of events, including: traditional Korean games; a Job Expo; many booths,
like the Korean resource Center, the Korean National Tourism Organization, the Korean American
Coalition, the Korean Trade Center, the Korean Taekwondo Association in USA, the Korean
Cultural Center, even the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles explained
what they do.

One particular event caught and held my attention: a Tal (Mask) and Talchum (Korean Traditional
Mask Dance) picture exhibition. I started to look closer. At that time, one white guy in his late
twenties was looking for somebody who could explain the exhibition to him. There was nobody who
could do so. I walked up to him.

“Excuse me…There was supposed to be someone who could explain this exhibition to you, but I
guess they are absent for now. If you don’t mind that I’m an amateur myself, I could try and explain it
for you.”

He welcomed my help, and I started to pour my admittedly-scant knowledge out for him.
“…Talchum is kind of a musical, but not exactly. The difference is in performing, and in being
surrounded by the audience. With Talchum, the cast shares the stage with their audience. In other
words, the audience becomes part of the play as well. So…” While I was explaining, I tried to figure
out who this white guy looked like. But nobody’s name came to mind.

“…And Korean Folk Mask Dance’s significant theme is mostly satire, about conflict between two
classes: one is the ruling class, which also indicates the bourgeoisie; the other class is the
proletariat…”

“Can you dance any kind of Korean Folk Dance?” the man asked.
“I can perform a Crane Dance.”

“What is it?

Indicating several “Crane Dance” pictures at the exhibition, I explained about said folk dance…which
involves imitating a crane’s various natural actions, The dance also involves wishing for world
peace, and for the longevity of its people.

After I finished, he thanked me for my little history lesson. I just smiled, rather than tell him I’d
learned all about that stuff from my uncle.

We introduced ourselves. His name was Daniel, and he taught French at high school.
Daniel had come to America to be a Hollywood screenwriter. I told him, so had I. We hit it off
immediately, in the name of having the same American dream.

Besides that, Daniel and I both liked Starbucks…At the same time, we both hated the name of their
coffee-sizes, like Tella or Grant. We always ordered Small coffees, or Medium.

One day, Daniel and Hilary and I went to the Korean & American Friendship Bell in San Pedro. It
was on the hill, where the Pacific Ocean and America meet. My first impression was the spectacular
view of the endless ocean.

We all sat on the grass with the California sunshine. I started eating M&Ms, instead of smoking
cigarettes, and enjoyed the view of the dark blue ocean.

Suddenly Daniel said, “America is a really interesting country.”

“Yes, indeed. I love America,” I said.

“Actually, I’m thinking of other things…like America against abortion, in the name of morality. But
America loves war, especially President Bush. It seems to me that he’s going to enter Iraq soon,”

Daniel took some M&Ms from my palm.

“The babies are American citizens. But the Iraqis are not American,” Hilary said. She continued,
“Younghee, that is the reason American citizenship is so important…not just a green card!” She
chuckled.

“America hates terrorism, yet it’s the #1 seller of weapons used by the Muslims…America
emphasizes world freedom, but only based on what Americans want. It is not the kind of freedom
everybody else wants. Everyone knows Americans want to go to Iraq for oil. Thank God the Korean
peninsula doesn’t have oil.” Daniel gave me a look, while taking the other M&Ms from my hand.
It reminded me of a conversation between my uncle and Dokdo’s father, Palsoo. Palsoo had raised
his voice whenever he talked about Americans, believing that America is a terrorist. Then my uncle
just followed his talk.

Anyway, Hilary and Daniel’s conversation was getting deeper, and more difficult to follow. I felt as if I
were becoming invisible.

The M&Ms were getting sticky in my hands. I decided that next time, I would bring a small bowl and
spoon for whenever I eat M&Ms outside, as I always do at home.

“There is so much terror happening officially, and not only between nations. It also happens among
families, societies, and governments. Said ‘open terror’ is more dangerous than any other violence.”
Hilary said.

“…Because people believe it is official and legal, not sinful, with no one to blame. That’s why we
have to be cautious about Open Terror: hitting loved ones in the name of decency; rejecting other
members of society in the name of morality; invading other countries in the name of freedom…like
America.” Daniel said, taking the other M&Ms from my palm.

In my understanding, Daniel really hated the USA. So I asked him, “If you don’t like America, why did
you become an American citizen?”

“Oh, I love America. But I don’t like Bush,” Daniel emphasized.

It was the first time I’d realized why my uncle didn’t like America, yet wanted me to come here. He
probably wasn’t anti-American; he probably just didn’t like Reagan, or Reaganomics.

Before we left there, Daniel took a picture of Hilary and me; she and I were standing side-by-side
next to the Korean & American Friendship Bell.

“Wow, Younghee…Your hair is much blonder than Hilary’s,” Daniel said.

On the way back home, I wondered who Daniel really was. Sometimes he seemed really intelligent
and scholarly. Other times, he was just another horny American…except for his accent.

The only French culture that I tasted through him was his kiss…and his thick chest-hair, and crab
cakes from some French restaurant whose name I forget.

Daniel was just one of us immigrants who wanted to be a great American.


Chapter Eighteen…Naked Yoga

Starting October 2002, I became really busy with the New Year Advertising Campaign. I even
worked on Sunday, the day of the Los Angeles AIDS Walk. Hilary and Daniel participated without me.
Yes, the Los Angeles Marathon and AIDS Walk…I had spent four years preparing to do this;
mysteriously, I couldn’t be there even once. I was buried in work for the company, promising myself
that I would be there next year. Then one day, I turned to the sky. October was gone; it was already
mid-November, with rain.

Meanwhile, I was gradually establishing my own emotional stability. I resumed studying English, and
seeking new creative outlets for my second screenplay.

Therefore, I felt myself sliding away from Daniel. Nevertheless, he kept calling me every day,
sometimes even at work. It disturbed me at work, and it impeded my efforts to write the screenplay.
My mom’s health was gradually deteriorating. I was getting anxious to do something quickly. I hoped
I could sell my screenplay promptly, and get it filmed as soon as possible by a Hollywood producer.
Hence, I met him at Starbucks, on Santa Monica Boulevard and Bundy, to break up with him. We sat
side by side against the window. I had a small coffee, while he had a medium. For some reason, he
asked me what I did to overcome writer’s block.

“Well, I have my share,” I said, about to say goodbye forever.

“Me? I do naked yoga,” he said in a monotone, sipping his coffee.

“What? Naked yoga?” I asked, crossing my legs.

“It’s simple. Do yoga, but naked. Want to try?”

“In a yoga studio?” I asked.

“No; I wish, but I do it only at home.”

“But why naked?” I couldn’t help myself.

“Have you done any kind of yoga before?”

“I tried, but I stopped.”

“May I ask why?”

“You know, in yoga studios, people are working up a sweat and watching classmates do the same; I
could see classmates naked in my mind. Well, it was too hot to see their sweaty yoga poses. Yoga
is so erotic for me, that I couldn’t concentrate on it. Somehow, I felt shameful,” I explained.
“That is why people should be naked during yoga.”

“Excuse me? I don’t understand. People get hot easily, so they should be naked?” I asked.
“That’s right. If you get hot during yoga, then let the energy out. It’s natural. It’s the way we come
into the world. I believe naked yoga is maintaining an all-around fit, healthy body in the most natural
way possible. And there’s renewed interest in spiritual enlightenment, and a huge benefit: better
sex!”

“Better sex?” I got into it immediately.

“Because yoga is sex. Do you remember what you did in the yoga studio? All poses are related to
sex. If you cannot believe me, try being naked  at your home. Do the yoga you learned at the
studio. You will understand what is going on, and it will improve your sex life by getting energy from
nature,” he said.

“I did Hatha Yoga.”

“It doesn’t matter; just do it the same way, being naked. Once you’re naked, you will never go back
to doing yoga in clothes.”

“Is it good with partners?”

“Hell yes. It’s all the better if you do yoga with your partner, if you have one. My ex-girlfriend and I
really enjoyed it. That’s the reason naked yoga is so popular among husbands and wives.”

I wanted to try it right away. So I changed my mind about breaking up with him that day.

“Then why didn’t you suggest doing naked yoga with me before?” I was wondering.

“I thought that being an Asian girl, you were traditional or conservative. Hilary said that, until twenty-
three, you were a virgin…and that Nara was also a virgin, until age twenty-five.”

“Oh, shut up! I am just a little tighter, that’s all. I always try new things; it’s a challenging new world,
after all.” Actually, I wanted to try it. What the hell did naked yoga feel like?

We left Starbucks to try naked yoga at his place.

On the way, we stopped at Ralphs to buy a watermelon. While I was loading it into Daniel’s car
trunk, Nara called me. She asked me if I was busy or not, without even saying hi. I wanted to tell her
that I was busy with naked yoga, but I just asked why. She told me she was at the Gaam Coffee
Shop. She wanted to see me right away; because she missed me a lot.

Somehow, to me, that was strange. After all, she was really busy with her in-laws…and with her
doctorial dissertation. I asked whether something was wrong with her or not. She simply asked to
see me right away.

I believed that something big had happened to her. I looked at Daniel, who stood next to me, ready
to shut the car’s trunk.

After I asked Nara to hold on the cell phone, I asked myself, Friendship or sex—which one comes
first? I remembered what Hilary told me: friendship means being there whenever somebody requires
somebody else to be there; sex means anytime you’re in the mood, a “flexible-erectible.”

“Can we make it some other time?” I asked Daniel.

“Younghee, I need it right away.” He made a face.

“Nara, I’ll be there right away.” I shut my cell phone on her. Then I went on, “Daniel. I have to go see
Nara; she’s going to die.” After that, he slammed the car’s trunk shut.

When I arrived at the Gaam Coffee Shop, Nara was sipping her coffee gracefully, in the California-
afternoon sunshine. Her white skirt and matching shirt made her look even more beautiful than
usual.

While I was walking toward Nara, I thought about her: beautiful, smart, with rich parents, married to a
doctor, working toward her own doctorate. I felt a little envious.

She said nothing was wrong with her, really. She just missed me because we’d always been dear
friends. She wanted to share the beautiful California sunshine with me.

I was speechless. California sunshine? I could feel it every day. When she wanted to see me, I felt
there was something big.

So I rushed here after giving up the naked yoga sex.

She said this was a beautiful day to go to Disneyland. I thought naked yoga with Daniel would be
even better than Disneyland, and it was free to boot.

She reminded me that I’d never been to Disneyland before, despite having lived in Los Angeles
more than four years. I reminded myself that such was my fate: living a standard life without any
entertaining options.

Nevertheless, it seemed so unfair. Somebody had been to

Disneyland over ten times; yet somebody else didn’t even know where Disneyland was.
Missing naked yoga, I started sipping coffee, and Nara started to tell me about her
doctorate…something about the New Nomadic Age.

“…People are just a small dot…especially in the web. This individual communication system, Dot
Media, delivers more variety and objectivity to the world…with people mutually and actively
exchanging their lives to build a coexistence with all our neighboring nations in mutual prosperity…”
She was amazing, looking like a beauty-pageant contestant…but she brought words which were
difficult to follow or even understand. Yet, smiling and nodding, I pretended to know exactly what
was going on there…as a small dot.

She continued: “…On the other hand, Dots are easily grouped—under certain issues—to pursue
their own benefits against others. So small Dot Media groups often turn out exclusivism:
strengthening conservatism and extreme nationalism…”

She seemed to be doing something important. I was so proud of her, having such a great person for
a friend. Because of her, I created my own web site: www.youngheecha.com. It seemed I had gotten
my own nation…as a Dot Media myself.

***

The following Monday morning, Daniel called me. “When are we having naked yoga?” But I was
really busy at work.

According to my boss, November and December were the busiest months of the year for advertising
agencies. This was because of their preparation for the upcoming New Year’s ad-campaign. I
worked Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes late. I didn’t have time to memorize even a single word
of the English vocabulary.

I cancelled several appointments with Daniel for the naked yoga. He even suggested we could meet
around 11 P.M.

“11 P.M.?” That was the time to fall asleep in a heartbeat, without closing my eyes, from the day’s
hard work. Finally, Daniel and I made plans for naked yoga on Saturday evening. I was driving
home from work, while psyching myself up for my first naked yoga…for sex with Daniel.
…Some boys kiss me…Some boys hug me…I think they’re Okay…My cell phone’s ringtone kicked
in. I checked the caller ID while turning onto the 10 Freeway West from Vermont Avenue. It was
Hilary.

“Hi, Hilary. Thank God you called me here now. I am dying at work, and I have to pull an
overnighter.” Instinctively, I lied because I didn’t want to have my first naked yoga disturbed.

“Got soju at home?” Hilary continued. “I would like to stay at your place tonight. So if you work late, I
will go to your office and pick up your apartment key. I need soju, if nothing else.”

“What’s going on? Is the ‘Big One’ coming to Los Angeles?”

“I cannot tell, but soju will tell you.” Hilary seemed already drunk from soju.

“Okay, Hilary. Even though I will lose my green card, I will stay with you tonight, for the sake of our
friendship. Come to my apartment; I will leave the office right away.” After closing my cell, I talked to
myself…complaining to Hilary that real friendship also means respecting the friend’s sex life.
What could I do? Hilary had gotten the Big One; I had no idea what that was like. Then I hit Daniel’s
cell number.

“Sorry, Daniel; I have to go to Hilary’s apartment. Her boyfriend is going to die.”

“Hey, Younghee, when do we walk into ‘naked yoga’ Heaven?” Daniel sounded disappointed. He
reminded me of the following weekend, when would be held the First Screenwriting Expo at the Los
Angeles Convention Center.

***

Into my living room I brought soju, cranberry juice, Pepsi and M&Ms. I started making Hilary’s
favorite cocktail: Fiery Nipple, which is cranberry juice and soju.

“Do you remember Jude Schwarzenegger?” Hilary asked, sipping Fiery Nipple.

“Who?” I asked her, while tossing M&Ms high in the air to catch them in my mouth.

“The face of Jude Law, the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sound familiar?”

I remembered him immediately. I didn’t remember his real name, but we named him “Jude
Schwarzenegger.” He was Hilary’s ex-boyfriend. After breaking up with Hilary, he had dated Nara for
a while…but that was nothing serious. All three of them had been classmates in graduate school.

“Today his mother called me. He was killed on 9/11. He was on the seventy-eighth floor of the World
Trade Center.”

“What? Hack, hack!” I was choking on some M&Ms.

Hilary poured soju into her glass and drank it straight, without the cranberry juice. She broke down
in tears and spoke:

“…One year after her son’s death, his mother started to call all her son’s friends…every single
one…giving notice of his death, and wishing that her beloved son be remembered…” Hilary was
sobbing really hard.

I poured one glass of straight soju, bottoms-up, into my mouth. I felt like my stomach was on fire.
“…”
“…”
Hilary and I didn’t say a word.

Soundlessly crying, Hilary was fiddling with the glass in her hand, while wiping her eyes with Kleenex.
While I was fiddling with M&Ms in my fingers, I saw Jude Schwarzenegger reflected on the surface of
my soju glass. I’d never met Jude Schwarzenegger’s mother, but all of a sudden…his mom’s pain
overtook my heart, which seemed to explode.

I wondered how his mother could sleep after that, thinking of her beautiful son’s death. How many
tears did she pour on her pillow? How could she go through her deadly pain? How much did she
hate terrorists, really? From now on, how could she get through the rest of her life while holding this
unforgettable pain in her heart?

I just wished longevity for her, that she not lose her health because of her offspring’s death. Not like
my grandmother, who got sick and died just several years after my uncle passed away.
I downed a shot of soju, bottoms up, after I crossed myself. I prayed for the late young man’s peace
in Heaven, and for his mother’s health.

Hilary drank straight soju, two glasses in a row. “…I loved him truly. After he started dating Nara, I
realized he was my destiny. But I was late. When he came back to me after breaking up with Nara, I
was living with Adam. He was late. I still love him more than Adam.” Again she started sobbing hard.
“Don’t drink soju too fast; I just have four bottles left.” I told her while eating M&Ms.

“Ohmigod…just four bottles for the whole night? I told Adam that I would stay here overnight.”
I understood how Hilary felt about her ex’s death. Nevertheless, Adam let her think about her ex?
Overnight? Boozing? I couldn’t understand that.

“Is Adam okay with this?”

“I told him, ‘You are going to die.’” Hilary poured cranberry juice into her soju.

“Hey, that’s my routine, ‘Somebody’s going to die.’ Next time, if you have to use it, say my boyfriend
is going to die…not me.”

“Did she call Nara as well?” Hilary sounded skeptical, as she sipped her Fiery Nipple.
“If Nara’s husband got Jude Schwarzenegger’s mother’s phone, maybe somebody is going to die,” I
said, eating M&Ms.

“Why?”

“To Koreans, that is the same as death: the phone call from an ex to a married woman.”

“I think Nara’s husband, Doctor Park, is American,” Hilary said.

“You think so? I think he is just another Korean, even though he grew up here and loves kimbob to
boot,” I said.

“Aren’t they a perfect couple? Nara is an expert at making kimbob, and he’s crazy about the stuff.”
Hilary said.

     “That’s the reason they’re called a Kimbob Couple. But who wouldn’t like Nara’s kimbob?
Tomorrow, I will ask Nara whether or not she received the call from her first lover’s mother.” I added
Pepsi to my soju glass to save soju.

“Hilary, are you busy next weekend?”

“Why?”

“I would like to take a special picture with you and Nara at some special place.”

“What for?”

“I’m going to get a working visa soon. So I will keep the special picture forever and ever. I will
remember what a terrible life I had, and help other immigrants as a successful role model.”

Hilary gave me a long, serious look. Then she said, “Rest assured, after you become an American
citizen, you’ll forget the tough times easily.”

“You’re wrong. People don’t forget how difficult it is, living in America as a non-citizen,” I said bitterly.

“You ARE wrong. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger-he’s an immigrant. He had only a couple of
dollars when he arrived in America. Now look how he turned out. He became the Terminator of
illegal immigrants,” Hilary said.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger? Don’t talk about him like that. He’s my role model!”

“Believe me…he’s going to kill all illegal immigrants sooner or later. Just like rat-tat-tat.” She imitated
a machine gun, using her leg.

“Are you sure? “ He is an immigrant. And now he’s pulling a gun on immigrants, his own brothers?” I
asked.

“That’s simple. Until a recent date, the fast way to be a hero in the Republican Party is to be a
terminator of illegal residents…or to be a super-homophobe. He picked up the first one for his
political success.”

“I wish he could be a homophobe, instead of that.”

“Actually, the homophobic way is getting unpopular…ever since one of the super-homophobes in
the Republican Party was exposed as a homosexual. Also, after research has revealed someone
who has homophobic propensity—and who, in all likelihood, also has homosexual propensity—
because if people are not interested in something, they don’t talk about it. You know that, right? Sex
is my main research. The most important thing is: every twenty-six seconds, another immigrant
comes into America. That means there’s always a target, always a victim, to give the immigrants’
terminators more focus in the spotlight.”

“I think his wife is beautiful,” I said.

“Remember, if someone can betray their own people, they can betray their own family by the same
token. We learn that throughout history,” Hilary said.

Despite everything, I decided to believe that my role model—Schwarzenegger—was an immigrant
like myself, and therefore on my side. I wished him great success.

Whenever Hilary talked about politics, I felt like she was a stranger instead of a friend.

I assumed she picked up all that political stuff from her boyfriend Adam—who was going into politics
himself—especially since Hilary had shown greater-than-ever-before interest in politics since
meeting him. I wanted to change the subject, to talk about something else.

“You know what? Several days ago, I applied for a free air ticket to Korea.”

“A free air ticket? How come?”

“I saw an Asiana Airlines advertisement in the newspaper. There was information about how many
miles are required for free travel from America to overseas.”

“So?”

“From here to Korea requires around 68 thousand miles for a free ticket. I divide it by six years,
because my lawyer told me I will get my green card in six years. And I divided again by twelve
months. I need just about 950 miles a month, which I can get quite easily. So, I visited at www.us.
flyasiana.com and applied for an Asiana Credit Card to earn mileage. Six years later, I will get a free
ticket with my brand-new green card!” I exclaimed.

“That’s fantastic!” Hilary applauded.

“Yeah…For the free ticket and green card!” I shouted out.

Hilary and I raised my Sopep, and her Fiery Nipple, in a toast to my rose-colored future.

Then we started talking about our photogenic event, for my ceremony regarding my working visa.
Where should we go to take that picture…? Santa Monica... Pier…? Las Vegas…? Yosemite
Park…? Disneyland…? Or just our favorite place, Chapman Plaza…? What kind of clothes should
we wear for the picture…? Should all three of us dress in the same color, or should we each wear a
different color…?

Our conversation was endlessly exciting.

Chapter 1-3    Chapter 4-6    Chapter 7-9   Chapter 10-12   Chapter 13-15

© 2006 Younghee Cha

Thank you for reading this fiction, published January 2006. If you want to know more about this
novel, please visit
http://www.youngheecha.com
Copyright © 2005-2006 Bare Back Magazine, all rights reserved.
Please contact the authors if you'd like to reprint articles on this site.  All copyrights are retained by original authors
HOME | FICTION | POETRY | E-ZONE | DIARY | SUBMISSIONS | CONTACT | ADVERTISE | ABOUT US