Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).

22 January, 2007


By Aaron
22 January, 2007

One morning when I was fourteen years-old, I was jarred awake at five o'something A.M. by a shaking house and my naked stepfather who stood in my bedroom doorway yelling at me.

"Aaron, get over here," and adding when I failed to rouse myself with due haste, "goddamnit, it's an earthquake."

It's always taken more, however, than a violent act of God to send me running for the company of naked men - a lot more - and by the time I reached the doorway the quake was almost finished. But there we stood for a few seconds anyway as the house shook and shimmied all over its foundation. And then, just like that, it stopped and all was quiet again until the neighbor's dog set to barking.

My stepdad, thankfully, went and found his bathrobe and then turned on the TV in the living room. There on KGW was some pretty little news anchoress, all well-coifed and made-up like the producers had just that minute hauled her out of the pantry and set her in front of the camera.

"The reports are still coming in," she said, "but it seems the Portland area has just experienced an earthquake."

Seems?, I thought. What's she think that was, a horse fart? I sure as hell wanted someone to give me a good explanation for why I was being yanked awake by screaming naked men and nothing less than an earthquake was going to suffice.

The station then cut to a reporter somewhere out in the city - "on location," as though where you're sitting right now isn't "on location" - and he looked more human, like he'd just been hauled out of bed by a naked man and a shaking house. This fellow's name was Walden Kirsch, I think, and KGW always seemed to send him out on the most hazardous assignments, like an icy freeway where 18-wheelers would come skidding up and jack-knife right behind him. I always figured someone at Channel 8 had it in for that guy.

"Portland got an abrupt awakening this morning at approximately 5:27," Walden started. "But from where I stand there seems to be no visible damage. This place looks exactly like it did at 5:26."

And the news just kept breaking.

They eventually cut back to the studio and confirmed that Portland had indeed been through an earthquake, though the epicenter was actually down in the puckerbrush town of Scotts Mills. Still, the 5.6 magnitude meant that it had shaken my naked stepfather out of the shower and sent him running for my room. So sure enough, goddamnit, it was an earthquake - my first and, until Saturday at least, my only.

In fact, I wasn't even convinced by the first rumblings of this most recent one. I've been under the boot of a kinghell cold lately and attributed the movement of my chair to either the Nyquil or the fogbank rolling around inside my head. Just ask any cough syrup-drinking, suburban American kid - they've all been through an earthquake. Then I remembered that I hadn't taken any Nyquil and the building began to sway again.

That there's an earthquake, I thought to myself as I went to get the Nyquil. Strangely, an earthquake - like an orgasm or, I suppose, an enema - is a sensation that, once you've been through one, you always recognize. In the absence of DXM anyway.

This particular quake registered 4.8 on the Richter Scale (which was not, as you might imagine, named after Norman Vincent Peale) and centered in Gangwon Province on the east coast of Korea - or, as it's known internationally, the Coast of Japan. Given the structural standards of Korean buildings, I shudder to think what a larger quake - of, say, 4.9 - would do to the Seoul skyline and, more importantly, my own apartment building. So just to be safe, I'm standing naked in my doorway as you read this.