It’s a pleasure to see Kenneth, a fellow countryman and Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com), always upbeat with a wry sense of fatalism, an epitome of the Korean adage, “Bounce back up the 8th time, though knocked over 7 times (7전 8기).”
“So how is your life as a homebody?” I ask, referring to the reversal of roles or polarity between himself, the “outward or exterior lord” (바깥 양반), another word for husband in Korean, describing how he goes out into the world to bring home the bacon, and his wife, “home person” (집 사람) or “interior person” (안 사람), left behind to take care of the house. Notice the honorific “lord” for the former, contrasting with the plebeian status of the latter.
Biology brings about the switch of polarity, not legislation nor cultural, social pressure. Men, too feeble to go out, get to stay home, but their mates, on average 5 years younger due to hypergamy on top of their longer lifespan by 7 years in the States, go shopping, stop at the bank, post office, gas station, and perform other necessary “exterior” activities, which may even include bringing home a paycheck, as in Kenneth’s case: Alice is a church musician.
But, as is often the case with the nouveau riche, the female “lords” can be pretty bossy toward their homebodies, putting them under strict orders to wash dishes, put out the garbage and recyclables, clean the whole house spic and span, inside and out, water the plants, and do repairs on the furniture and the house. Mercifully, he doesn’t have to cook. Nor does she do much of it anyway, ready-made Korean and Western cuisine being available at supermarkets and specialty stores. Except she spends hours cooking for Emily, their 3-year-old granddaughter, she babysits and takes to preschool.
“Alice has finally stopped bitching about having to rewash the dishes, especially Emily’s,” Kenneth replies triumphantly. “This happened one day when she gave me a frying pan coated thick with lard after pan frying steak. I couldn’t rinse it under the faucet for fear of clogging up the drain. So I scraped the pan with scrap paper, then kept scraping with more and more wads of paper until no trace of grease remained and, in fact, no water washing was needed with or without soap. Then and there I decided to apply the same method to everything else, dishes, pots and pans, utensils. Alice hasn’t figured out yet why it’s been months since she bought the last bottle of dish detergent.”
“But doesn’t it take long?”
“A couple of hours along with my eating but it’s healthy. No more acid reflux.”