F5s catchup

A little behind on these things, I have decided to do two in one sitting, which means terser answers than usual.

Last week’s question, from Rob, was this:

Five instances of you opening your mouth as wide as humanly possible and inserting your foot. No false modesty please.

This shouldn’t be hard. I’m more careful these days, but in the past I committed a stunning number of gaffes:

  1. Just the other day, I was talking to my first lesbians in a long time, and made some comment about couples just starting to hold hands in Korea recently. One of them commented, “You mean straight couples,” which I think was meant as a quip, but it threw me off and I went on to explain that there is a gay scene in Seoul, but I don’t know much about it, but in the countryside it’s rather more nonexistent and denied, all of which was probably obvious to the woman I was talking to, who’d spent time in Japan, but I kind of felt as if I ought to explain it if for no other reason than to show that I’m not an ignorant dork… and I suspect I looked like more of an ignorant dork as a result… though it seemed all was fine later, and I was jetlagged.
  2. When my ex-wife talked about singing, I told her that she’d have to practice more if she were serious about it. I perceived it as honest advice, from someone who was practicing a lot at the time. She took it as criticism. I didn’t understand why until years later.
  3. The Korean word for “cop” is “jabsae” which is a kind of stalker bird that sits in wait, and snatches its prey by surprise—like a cop manning a traffic light. It’s not a very nice word, though, something worse than “pig” in English when it’s used to mean cop. Suppose I shouldn’t have used it in jest in front of a class of Police Administration majors, huh?
  4. “… and that’s why $(#&! evangelical Christians drive me nuts. Wait, you’re not Christian, are you? Uh, sorry.” (This has happened many times.)
  5. “If you read H.P. Lovecraft, you will see exactly why Stephen King is such a crap writer.” (The following week, the writing workshop’s other horror guy—I was into horror before I moved into SF—presented on the brilliance of Stephen King, and the whole hour was quite uncomfortable for everyone, especially since the cleverest classmates mostly seemed to agree with me.)

And now, this week’s question! Laura asks:

What are the five weirdest, most bizarre things which have happened to you? Did they make sense afterwards?

Let’s see:

  1. In 12th grade, our English teacher, Mr. Osiowy, held spelling quizzes every week. Each week we were paired with a different student, by random, using random assortments of cards bearing our names. Now, here was the strange thing: he always drew the cards by random. But one time, when he drew the first card, he said a student’s name aloud. Then, suddenly, I found myself saying another student’s name aloud. He held up the card, and lo and behold, it was the right name. I repeated this something like six or eight times, successful each time, with him holding up the card each time to confirm the call to everyone. And then suddenly I was not listing off names anymore, but then, one of the girls in the class—our own Madonna-contender, Tonya Gresty—called out a couple of matches after that. She may have been guessing since the number of options had dwindled dramatically, but I was not guessing—I know I wasn’t because I wasn’t trying to figure out who it was. I just found myself saying the name and knowing in the same instant. Given my pretty skeptical nature, I have no explanation for what happened save perhaps subconscious understanding of the pattern of the cards, though I am skeptical of that, too. Who knows?
  2. I once had a transcendent experience in a schoolyard. I sat down in the grass, felt everything resonating with life—millions of blades of grass, trees in the distance, bugs and worms in the soil… all that life was clear to me in my mind, its vastness and my tininess, in some extremely aware state. I have no idea what caused this but I do know that I felt nice, and perhaps was related to the intense breath-control meditation I was doing. What that translates to neurologically, I don’t know. But I do remember it fondly.
  3. Once a high school friend—my closest, in fact—grabbed for my gonads. I think he was teasing me, and he’d never done it before. Though we were very close and comfortable with one another, it still shocked me. I don’t know the specifics of why he did that kind of teasing that night, but I was less perplexed when he came out of the closet.
  4. Once, when I was sick and extremely feverish, I had all kinds of horrific fever dreams. A girl who was chasing me but whom I resisted because she was obnoxious came and vampirized me, via my liver. A pair of levitating mice debated capitalism and socialism in my kitchen. Oh, and Sigismundo di Malatestiano attacked me, subtitled in English and speaking some very fake Italian, while my alcoholic friend provided sardonic commentary and told him off from the corner of the room. When I awoke from the horrible fever after two days of muddle-headed semi-comatose suffering and extreme sweating, I found that all the mack-tacked posters had fallen down off the walls. Every poster in the room. A physicist I knew at the time told me it was impossible that the posters falling had anything to do with my sweating, fever, and so on, and that it was just coincidence that all the posters had fallen during those 2 days. Which shows you just how stupid some PhDs actually are. I’m convinced now that it was humidity coming off my sweat, evaporating because I was so hot, that resulted in the posters falling. The explanation may be wrong, but it’s all I can think up.
  5. There was a long period when no woman would consider me for any other relationship besides friendship. This, understandably, depressed me, which made me even more unattractive. Contrary to popular belief about foreigner life in Korea, moving to Asia did not solve the problem, since it did not solve my depression. And then, one day, all kinds of women started perking up in interest. Some were freaks, some were wimpy wafflers, and some were just too young. (And one was just perfect, and I nabbed her, and that’s Lime.) But all that knocking on my proverbial front door was a bit of a shock to me. At the time it seemed as if something miraculous had happened. Well, of course, it was not so miraculous: I’d written the draft of a novel (which I’ve since consigned to the complete-rewrite pile), realized one of my dreams by traveling to India, lost weight and gotten into shape swimming, and stopped being so damned depressed. It wasn’t weird at all, it was just natural.

And a runner-up:

This one no longer applies—I find it doesn’t happen (to me) in Asia—but I wonder why there’s occasionally corn in the stools when one hasn’t eaten corn lately. I have no explanation for that, though it seems there’s an explanation for the whole-kernels we tend to see in poop, no matter how much we chew our corn—see here.

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