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So what'll it be?

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You're far too self absorbed...it isn't healthy to be so utterly trapped in your own head. I also think it's causing you to become somewhat detached from others. You comment again and again on how unusual or unique your life and experiences have been, but in reality there's very little that's unique about it. Many have had bad childhoods to varying degrees, many have had difficulty in school, many felt lost and directionless in there 20s...you isolate yourself by falsely believing that nobody could possibly understand you. It's a good way to drive yourself into a deep depression.

 

I'm sorry about your dog. I'm also one of those who like animals more than people.

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You're far too self absorbed...it isn't healthy to be so utterly trapped in your own head. I also think it's causing you to become somewhat detached from others. You comment again and again on how unusual or unique your life and experiences have been' date=' but in reality there's very little that's unique about it[/b']. Many have had bad childhoods to varying degrees, many have had difficulty in school, many felt lost and directionless in there 20s...you isolate yourself by falsely believing that nobody could possibly understand you. It's a good way to drive yourself into a deep depression.

 

I'm sorry about your dog. I'm also one of those who like animals more than people.

 

Maybe, but I haven't gotten to the good parts yet.

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It's 1995 again, a very good era for music and style. I just showed up on my mothers doorstep in East St. Louis. I left my lifelong home and my lifelong friends because I had no foresight and my father was a meany.

 

I've heard of the theory that if one was to go back in time and pick a flower that wouldn't have been picked in history before, that it would change everything. I believe it's referred to as the "ripple effect." It's an interesting theory and I'm not here to debate the merits of that. There are, however, certain moments in a person's life that a decision made irrefutably, irreversably alters its course.

 

If I hadn't left, I would probably have finished high school, I may have gone to college and actually finished. I may have kept those lifelong friends. I may have led a decent life, as opposed to all but destroying it with some really bad decisions (more on that later.)

 

Or I may not have.

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128702218296590119.jpg

 

The incredible coincidence:

 

I made a flyer for my store 2 days ago with a picture of the same chick, different pose but still drugged out. The heading was "We've Gotten Even Cheaper." It went on to explain that I've lowered the prices on drinks, candy bars and snacks. People loved it!

 

It's not going to save my store, though!

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I grew up in an all white town and went to an all white school. Black people were on TV. I never actually met a "real" black person. Crazy? I don't know. If you were to look at history throughout the globe, although there were cosmopolitan centers of diversity in some of the larger city/commercial districts, most people never even saw anyone outside their own race.

 

It was scary for me to go to an all black school, I'm not going to lie. I really never lie, except for just now. I didn't understand the dialect. To me it was like a different language. I wasn't being judgemental, I just didn't understand what anybody was saying to me. I didn't have the confidence that I can sometimes muster today, and was intimidated by my new peers. I was semi-determined to see this through, though. At this point in my life, I hadn't made it a habit of quitting things.

 

Home life wasn't going well.

 

When the first semester ended, a semester that I had attended in this new school for only a few weeks, I recieved all F's. This was devastating, I left Hillsboro with all A's and B's, as I had tried to straighten up. I took the steps to properly transfer, certainly this could be corrected. Nope. I went through the proper channels, but the administration didn't care.

 

It's easy to say I dropped out of High School because my Mom kicked me out. But she didn't kick me out until a couple of weeks later, though she didn't know I had quit school. I dropped out because I was miserable there and the prospect of spending an additional semester, not graduating on time because of an administrative error, was too much.

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I didn't start out with a whole lot of change in my drawer today. That can be a real problem. I've had some incredible luck, though. A lot of people have been paying with nickels, dimes and quarters.

 

Have you ever heard the joke where the punch line is an abbreviated version of the sum of a nickel, dime, quarter and a buck? "Buck forty, buck forty, buck forty." You really have to hear the whole joke to know for sure that it's not funny.

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My 28 day AWOL went like this. It was the weekend and I just got disciplined for something retarded...probably. I don't remember. Anyway, my brand new roommate, who apparently didn't understand my sensibilities and theories on ownership, was sitting on my bed with his girlfriend watching my TV. I wasn't to be bothered by that though.

 

I spoke to him and his girlfriend, who was a lot uglier than he deserved (it's the army, we're in an all male unit overseas, you do what you can,) as I packed my stuff. They didn't notice what I was doing. I kept them distracted by my charm and conversation skills. I left the room, walked down the hall, downstairs, past the CQ desk, out the billets, down the road to the other side of Camp Stanley and caught a cab. Simple as that!

 

I took the cab to the subway station in Uijeongbu. I got on the #2 line, a line I was familiar with from visiting my Korean girlfriend, went past her stop, Dondaemun, and got off on Jongo o ga. I don't remember how I found a motel, but I did, obviously with help from a stranger. I found a better room a few days later and stayed there for the majority of my "vacation."

 

Quick story. I overslept one day at the first motel. I was paying by the day, I was past check out time, so I owed some rent. The hotel owner/manager didn't speak any english, I had yet learned the meager amount of Hangul that I would later pick up. Her skinny school-age son had some skills, though. So, I overslept. The phone rang, I answered and with no introduction the voice on the other line said in what was probably not intended to be frightening or threatening. "Pay the money!" Freaked me out!

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Listen. My mother kicked me out weeks after my 17th birthday. I was probably supposed to beg forgiveness and listen to her rant about my behavior and how hard I'm making things on her and all that she's done for me. I would then maybe have the privilege of continuing to stay with her in the mouse-infested little sh**hole in the shadow of the a**hole of the universe that she was living in rent free, courtesy of her mother. I didn't want to do that.

 

She says I'm out. I'm out.

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I didn't have any money to speak of. My wallet wasn't literally empty, though. I had a pretty good job for a 17 year old. I had a good running car. A 1979 Camaro.

 

The thing that saved me was that I didn't freak out and do anything rash. I showed up to work that night at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown St. Louis. I was a busser. I made $4.25 an hour plus tips. I worked 4 nights a week and averaged just under $300 a week. I was in a pretty good position to take care of myself, really.

 

For the next couple of weeks, I worked my shift and partied all night, as much as a 17 year old could party. I wasn't old enough to drink and I didn't know where to score drugs. I was still new in town. I occasionally found a bed to stay in but mostly slept in my car.

 

Cool story: I got off work and went into this club that failed to card me. There was this concert performed by Vitamin A. A for acid. Someone "dosed" me, so that was cooll. Somewhere in there, a complete stranger chatted up a conversation with me and declared the we're "Going to Illinois!" for a party. That's what he kept saying "We're going to Illinois!" The party sucked. We left, I convinced him (or at least thought I convinced him) to let me crash at his place for the remainder of the evening.

 

For those of you who've never done LSD, you don't usually find sleep too easily. Where is sleep? Where did it go?

 

We were in deep, hallucinogenic conversation. This guy and a partner had an acquarium/fish store that had recently been seized by the government because of some kind of drug related activity. Great company, right? Him and his partner were into all kinds of things. His partner did this, his partner did that.

 

I had some deep sh** of my own I wanted to talk about. I felt compelled to talk about, with all of my experience, the subject of love. I said something along the lines of "You know how when you really love a girl you..."

 

He said "No."

 

I insisted "Haven't you ever really loved a girl and...blah, blah, blah."

 

He said no again.

 

I was about to make the most shocking discovery of my young life! He told me that he was...

 

I still stayed at his house that night, because I wanted to prove to him and myself that I was open minded and afraid of nothing. I needed a shower and a place to lay down for a moment. I could not wait for my "trip" to end.

 

He was okay, after all, but it could have turned out pretty bad. My bad luck is often balanced by my good fortune. Yin and Yang, baby.

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It was surprising to me how few Koreans could speak English. Yes, I know how this sounds. There's no excuse for me to think this way.

 

Well, there's one excuse. This is pretty compelling, pretty mind-boggling, really. If you look at the back of a car in Korea, it says Hyundai Sonata. In English. Over 80% of every sign, logo or slogan even, is printed in English. Nobody wears clothes with the Korean Language, Hangul, written on it. It would be safe to assume that everyone spoke a little. They don't.

 

I would go days without hearing it or speaking it.

 

I bought a book to learn the language. I even learned to read it, which was easier than it sounds. The language is written phoenetically. It looks like Kongi, but you can sound it out, just like our language. Each symbol represents a syllable beginning with a consonant and ending with a vowel, unless it ends in the ng sound, like wang or ding-a-ling. Brad Pitt would sound like Bradduh Pittah.

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You're far too self absorbed...it isn't healthy to be so utterly trapped in your own head. I also think it's causing you to become somewhat detached from others. You comment again and again on how unusual or unique your life and experiences have been' date=' but in reality there's very little that's unique about it. Many have had bad childhoods to varying degrees, many have had difficulty in school, many felt lost and directionless in there 20s...you isolate yourself by falsely believing that nobody could possibly understand you. It's a good way to drive yourself into a deep depression.

 

I'm sorry about your dog. I'm also one of those who like animals more than people.[/quote']

 

i think most people have a storry worth telling but not manny do it that openly and entertaining. keep on posting soup i really enjoy! how come you had that manny jobs? do you just get bored fast or are you just that good at getting people mad?

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Here's what happened. A friend eventually let me stay for a week. There was a girl in the picture who didn't think it was cool for me to hang around anymore, so I was back in my car, but all of my clothes were laundered, so it was great. This is February of 1996.

 

I was in my car for a couple of weeks when I got an old acquaintances phone number. He had an apartment. His rooommate said "if you buy a $25 bag of weed, you can stay the night." Great, I liked weed.

 

Next night, "If you buy a $25 bag of cocaine, you can stay the night." I'm glad he was stingy with the stuff, it wouldn't have been good for me to pick up that habit."

 

Next night, "If you buy another $25 bag of cocaine, you can stay for the rest of the week." Now I had some breathing room. I got a check every other week and tips every night.

 

A couple of days later I was offered something I didn't think possible, completely out of the blue, that's going to be hard to believe. Let me go into some detail about the then current state of affairs, though.

 

These two were ravers, though Kurt, my friend, hated Josh's guts. Josh was the guy who had true claim to the apartment. His mother had rented it out for him. Kurt was 20, but smallish and possibly gay (it never came out, as far as I know.) Josh was 18 and powerful. The apartment was tagged with spray paint, all over. It was done pretty well, actually. Kurt worked at a grocery store, Josh got a ridiculously small check every week from his mom. He also collected rent from Kurt.

 

For fun one day, while off work, I convinced Josh that I did not know how to read. To really appreciate the genuine concern he showed, you have to know a little about him. He was lazy, that's why he didn't work. He was an a**hole. That's why his mom was done with him and had him living in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment.

 

He wanted to help me. He said his mom (apparently his go-to) could do something for me. He knew that this thing could happen to anyone and it didn't make me any less of a person. In this moment his personality was beautiful.

 

Another thing about Josh, of significance; he was once on the Jenny Jones show. Apparently he went up to be in the live audience and was offered a part. He was dressed up as a geek and was on stage telling some girl, whom he'd actually never met, that all these years he loved her! I heard this story a hundred times.

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i think most people have a storry worth telling but not manny do it that openly and entertaining. keep on posting soup i really enjoy! how come you had that manny jobs? do you just get bored fast or are you just that good at getting people mad?

 

I can't hold a job!

 

Last night at the gym, some dumb a** friend of my sparring partner, was at the gym. He's not a member, but could be. He has skills. He's not God's gift to MMA, though.

 

I've known Brian for awhile now, I met him at Twin City Boxing. He's TJ's lifelong friend. He wrestled for a couple of years in high school.

 

I didn't hear it, but apparently he was "coaching," which I don't really like from spectators, either. He was contradicting the gym owner, who is also a fighter; a guy with some accompolishments. They started bickering, and the gym owner gor pi**ed! He got loud! With a two tablespoons of profanity, a quarter cup of threats and dash of reality he threw Brian out.

 

I offered T.J. a ride home, believing that Brian was his ride. Little did I know, Brian waited for us outside, he needed a ride, too! I did not want the entire gym (there are huge windows in front, where I was parked,) to see me "sleeping with the enemy," but what do you do?

 

On the ride home T.J. and Brian were talking about how the injustice. Brian offered retribution. As it was talked out, Brian and T.J. agreed that he should go back to the gym the next Monday (we're gong to be open on Memorial day) and apologize. This way he can continue coming.

 

I could never do a thing like that. That's why I've had so many jobs.

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Okay, sometimes I just don't like a place or the job or the money (tipped employees can't predict their pay until they start working and find out how much business the restaurant/hotel gets.) Sometimes I find my passions lie elsewhere.

 

I am restless.

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Here was a typical day for me as a deserter. I woke up in the afternoon and took a shower. On come the clothes, typically sweat wicking athletic apparel and running shoes, and out the door I go. I walked several blocks, long Korean blocks, until I got to Chongno Dong. I ate. Maybe is was kimbop and kimchi, maybe it was Burger King. I hung around somewhere, watched a free concert or went to a video arcade, who knows.

 

At the video arcade, if I put on coin (100 won) into the machine that measure your punch, I would be held hostage there for almost an hour, people would just keep putting coins in for me. I hit pretty hard, but I think it was more the "John Wayne" style of slugger punch that drove people wild. A crowd would soon form and people would watch until I got tired, or there was a delay in someone putting in a coin, so I had a chance to escape.

 

I might have gone back to my room for a shower, maybe watch a movie in English, my language. I shower excessively, 3-5 times a day.

 

I had to make sure I got out of the room and got to my "job." My job consisted of me hanging around some Henna and Bindi table where two virgin girls thought I had some obligation to stay with them in this "dangerous" neighborhood after dark.

 

Danger? Ha! They should check out East. St. Louis.

 

So I spent all night trying to say things in Korean to these girls and their friends, who in turn tried to say things in English to me. I had the superior linguistic skills, and they were virtually nonexistent. At least they had eachother.

 

When my duties were performed, we went our seperate ways, usually. There were occasions that we went to some of the more traditional taverns to drink Soju. This was uncomfortable for me because I was technically the "elder" so everybody served me. This is strictly practiced by the way. If you were born a month before someone else, you were the elder.

 

Once they invited me to see their play. In all those nonsensical attempts at communication, I had surmised the Pei Jing, a really cool dude, was a "hip hop" dancer. I had no idea of the talent I was surrounded by. This play, although I didn't know what was going on, was wildly entertaining!

 

Once we parted way, I was off to Cheong ngyangni (of course I'm checking the spelling) to see the hookers.

 

After that, I went skateboarding. They had the greatest places to skate, and the cops didn't care at all.

 

I skated all night, I would make a visit to this convenience store in the wee hours of the morning and hang out with some young guy who worked there. But I skated before and after.

 

When dawn came, I knew it was only a matter of time until Dunkin' Donuts opened. I would order a couple donuts, drink my oo yoo (milk) and head back to my room for a shower and sleep.

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Josh told me that if I bought $100 worth of cocaine, he would let me stay in my own apartment. Rent would be $300 a month, it was due in a week. What?

 

Really, what? He had another apartment? What are the odds? This has to be hard for any ready to believe. I didn't believe it, but sure enough, his mom had rented two apartments, one was hers, but she didn't live there. It was vacant. He had a key sure enough, and showed me the place.

 

I don't know what the story was because Josh was a liar. But I gave him $100 and I started living in my own apartment. The cops didn't bust the door down so when the end of the month came, I gave him an additional $300. Apparently, everything was okay.

 

Our arrangement came quickly to an end after I paid him the $300, but now how you're predicting. His mom really did have this additional apartment. Here's what happened. The landlord came by to do some routine something or other on the ground floor apartment where Josh stayed. When he saw the graffitti all over the walls, he unceremoniously threw Josh and Kurt out.

 

By a stroke of what appeared to be bad luck, but later turned out to be good, I happened to have my head out the window talking to one of my friends. This drew the attention of the landlord. Now he knows that this unit, which was legitimately being rented, was not vacant. So from the street he ordered me out, and he was on his way up to make sure I was complying!

 

Sometimes I'm really smart. Sometimes I say just the right things.

 

I wasn't doing anything wrong and I had a job. I laid it all on the line. A skinny 17 year old who looked like a 14 year old, a kid probably wearing some Seattle grunge clothing with shoulder length hair, was able to convince this man, a guy in a fit of rage over what someone I was associated with had done to his apartment, that I would be a solid tenant.

 

Rent was due in a few days. I paid it.

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Let me tell you a few things about Korea, things most soldiers who've been there don't even know, as any time they've ever been off post, it's typically in the "'ville."

 

The people who live in the "ville" are the pimps and the prostitutes, the dregs of society. You may have some shop owner content to live amongst the squalor in order to sell cheap food and counterfeit clothing to the soldiers who live in the post the "villle" borders. There are 48 million people who live in South Korea and most of them don't live in the "ville."

 

I don't know what the statistics are, but the people of South Korea are as tall as we are. They are typically very attractive. Maybe it's because every male is required to have served in the military, but everyone has well kept, pressed clothing and well kept footwear. They are quite fashionable.

 

99% of the population wait until marriage before engaging in intercourse. Many of the girls have never so much as been kissed...at least until I got there. An unsubstantiated fact that I heard from an old korean man was this; even the prostitutes, if they have a boyfriend, will not have sex with him until they wed. I don't know how accurate this is, but if it's true, I'd hate to be that guy!

 

Theirs is a culture of of entertainment, as I've seen. On almost every block, you have some kind of state where there's an impromptu group of young people doing some kind of choreographed dance routine, usually reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys. I've seen a lot of breakdancing too. Not a lot of martial arts, but I've seen it.

 

In front of a fricking furniture store or a drugstore even! There might be two chicks, dressed all ****y like the way they pimp out the underage chicks on Nick Jr., doing karaoke.

 

Karaoke was huge!

 

Seoul was such a modern city. I guess, since it was obliterated in the Korean War, everything was new so it really lent itself to modernity and cleanliness. Well, not always cleanliness. There were street vendors everywhere that wouldn't have a prayer up against health department regulations in this country. It was quite the contrast to see such beautiful buildings and streets having their sidewalks cluttered with dirty tents selling ramen noodles and soju.

 

The proportion of beautiful women was generously distributed among the populace, way higher than here. Obesity was rare, hygeine was typically addressed. Some of these women were indescribably gorgeous.

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Women are so often judged on their appearance, we all are, but women especially. Fair or not, I think it's insane that some women, many women...most women don't make it a priority. Generally, if you maintain a certain weight and keep up with your hygiene, you're going to be way ahead of the game.

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Wow Koreans have sum weird things. ****s' boyfriend won't get laid be4 the wedding but his girlfriend will sleep with everyone except him darn that's twisted.

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So now Kurt needed a place to stay. He was a friend, not a close friend, but someone I knew from Hillsboro. He helped me out, so I had to help him. I wish we all could be more youthful and idealistic.

 

I wish I was like that now.

 

It wasn't long before my best friend in the whole world, a guy who'd never let me down, never betray me or ever leave my side. A guy who would surely be my friend for life...it wasn't long before he decided to move in.

 

I guess it wasn't up to me. He was moving in. I had no objections.

 

Oh, what fun we had. To be 17 and with your own apartment, well, it was my own. I'm proud to say that I was never possessive, I never had any rules or tried to lay down the law. I never said "it's in my name!" or anything like that.

 

Again, I wish I was more like that now.

 

We threw a party every night, the cops were never called, even though we were loud as hell! We would go to a club or a rave (I wasn't a raver) and would invite every attractive girl we saw to come over afterwards. When they got to the apartment, they were greeted by three young, wild, semi-attractive musicians who had their own place and no rules! There was a keg in the refrigerator at all times. Someone would have drugs. We had the walls lined with places to sit. We would take turns playing guitar and singing songs, usually duets or Kurt would spin his records. We usually didn't get laid, but we really had a good time.

 

I did so much acid in that apartment!

 

Kurt was stuck in the phase, for the longest time, of expressing his freedoms by being completely nude while in the apartment. Even during parties, especially during parties. We were some free spirits, man. And nobody cared, it just made the party that much more interesting. I can't recall one single incident where somebody openly objected or left the place because of the vulgarity.

 

Kurt even put on a jerk off performance for everybody at one party! I'm not lying, you had to be there. It was so strange, it wasn't even ****ographic, it was comedy. John was sitting next to him, with his [John's] girlfriend on his other side and he put on some makeup and a wig with his arm draped across Kurt's shoulder's saying in a falsetto, "oh, baby! You can do it!" and the like. Kurt was trying to maintain his composure with about 50 people watching! I don't remember if he "finished," but the scene is relatively fresh and just as hilarious!

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Women are so often judged on their appearance' date=' we all are, but women especially. Fair or not, I think it's insane that some women, many women...most women don't make it a priority. Generally, if you maintain a certain weight and keep up with your hygiene, you're going to be way ahead of the game.[/quote']

wait... most women don't make it a priority? how not? a lot of women care more about appearance than other things... and some use as excuse: "i want to feel fine with myself!"

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During my 3 month desertion, I was involved in a chase scene that was like something straight out of a movie.

 

Have you ever gone to a Casa Gallardo or Applebee's or some kind of nice enough franchise restaurant? Of course you have. So you know about the waiters gathering around and singing "Happy Birthday." It's always embarassing when it happens to you.

 

Out of order here, but I used to work at a really high end 4 star French restaurant called Cafe de France. Whenever there was a birthday, they sent me to sing it to the table. Noone else, just me. I'm not even that good of a singer! That was weird.

 

Anyway, I don't know what prompted it, but I was making conversation with the staff when I said something that caused their employees, waiters, waitresses and bussers to gather up their instruments (instruments? Really?) and head to my table where they proceeded to sing and play one of the best impromptu performances I had ever heard of some original song that I will never hear again. It was quite an experience!

 

At this same restaurant, and again I'm fuzzy on the details, I met two Americans who were studying...something there in Korea. I hadn't seen an American in about 3 months, other than my brief return from my 29 day AWOL. So we agreed to go to Itaewon, a tourist trap that I never go to because that's where all the soldiers go.

 

We visited this bar that was wild, it was for foreigners, but not soldiers. There were no prostitutes. I was challenged by some 110 pound Korean to see who could drink this massive mug of beer first, winner buys the round. I was sure that he'd beat me, but he was so small, maybe I'd have a chance. No. It was amazing. He just tipped the glass over and it was gone. Apparently he knew how to open his throat. Gay? Probably not.

 

I don't know if it was actually him, I mean it couldn't be, but someone who looked just like Alec Baldwin talked smack to me. If that was him, that would have made it the most completely insane night of my life when you include what I'm about to.

 

So we decided to cross the street and go to the "real bars." If you're ever trolling for prostitutes in Korea, don't go to Itaewon. It's more expensive, they cater to all the soldiers and the international community, so they might have diseases and they are the furthest from virginal you could imagine. Stick with Cheong nyangni.

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I really don't mean to leave you guys hanging, but I'm going to have to leave soon. I probably won't be able to continue this story until Tuesday. I hope that everybody reading this will be back. Feel free to send me a private message or maybe even post on this thread. I really appreciate the chance to finally tell this story and am grateful that people are listening.

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My first apartment was in Holly Hills, a neighborhood on the south side of St. Louis. Grand was a major street.

 

Dewey was not a major street, but 5602 Dewey is a big part of this story. The apartment was central to all that was freedom, all that was youth. To be anything but open-minded, to dare to take anything seriously would have been a serious offense to all that encompassed the glorious sh**hole that had become my home.

 

In retrospect, the apartment, the lifestyle was more important to me than to John or Kurt. Their childhood wasn't necessarily better than mine, but theirs was a neglected youth. Mine wasn't. Freedom was new to me.

 

In the moment, I had once said to ...someone, I think it was them, that I wanted to bus tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory and live in that apartment indefinitely. They said that was not possible. They suggested I was wrong, somehow. I would want to get a better job. I would want to live in a bigger, nicer place. I would need to grow up. Looking back, I stand behind my what I said.

 

Unfortunately, nothing is perpetual. Fortunately, nothing is perpetual. Really, I'm not sure where I stand on that. But I will say for me, the darkness set in with the arrival of a female.

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So, after leaving what I believed to be Applebee's, after going to Itaewon, after leaving another bar we three Americans (me being a stranger) wanted to go to a "real" bar. But first, we stopped at a convenience store.

 

The convenience store stop is not a significant part of the story, but it happened, I remember it, so I shall include it as part of the narrative. I got a water, one of the guys got a can of Heineken, the other guy got nothing. Did I mention it was the 4th of July? I just happen to remember that, too.

 

Itaewon had nothing to offer me. I knew where better, less expensive hookers were. I'm also not really fond of crowds. But I'd been speaking English all night and I did not want that to end. So, "we're going to Illinois!!!" I mean, Itaewon.

 

Camp Stanley was a long way from Itaewon and it was Wednesday. I hadn't realized it was the 4th of July, it wasn't a Korean holiday. I didn't keep track of the days anyway.

 

I was once, in coming to Itaewon (for skateboard stuff, they have a lot more than some shady nightclubs there,) spotted by a couple of soldiers from my unit. I almost never went to Itaewon, so what were the odds? His eyes got so big with surprise, he didn't know what to do. I passed by, quickly.

 

He was a younger soldier. As you hear of their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, know this: they're all really young.

 

So I avoided Itaewon for other reasons, Remember, it's like the only place that other soldiers knew of. Most of them didn't go AWOL for months on end so that they can get acquainted with the country.

 

There we were in "Illinois," leaving the convenience store. By the way, did I mention incredible odds earlier? We passed by three soldiers from my unit. On my first visit to Itaewon since the last sighting. On a Wednesday. There are 12 million people in Seoul, you know.

 

We passed by them quickly, but I saw the glimmer of recognition in their faces. I was ready to spring. PFC Hoffman turned around and called out "Taylor!"

 

Oh, my name is Ben Taylor.

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Ever considered a beef jerky soup?

 

Yes. Not for the store though.

 

I have been a fugitive from justice a couple of times. I never know what the future will hold for me. In my mind I imagine escaping prisons and taking flight. I imagine trekking through the woods, because my crime was so terrible, the authorities would surely be after me, so I evade them by staying away from society until I reach my goal.

 

I even thought of taking flight from Korea, trekking through China and taking residence in Thailand. I would scratch out a living by being a guide to all things shady and underground to English-speaking tourists. I could supplement my income by sending marijuana through the mail to some contact.

 

I was going to row across the yellow sea in a small boat in order to avoid the DMZ. I actually went to Inchon, which is on the coast, and rented rowboats and practiced rowing so that I could make sure I had some muscle development as pertained to rowing.

 

To make these trekks I would need some kind of nourishment. I thought maybe some dehydrated soup (with a ton of dried beef or jerky) would be fine, but I ruled against it, I figured they still required water, so there was no saving in weight, they required cookware, which was more weight and probably didn't pack enough calories for their size.

 

I don't want to spoil the story, but I never did go to Thailand. As I know nothing of the sea or currents, tide etc. I ruled against it.

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It's hard to appreciate how attractive Mary Domzalski was when all you have to go by is my word. Everybody claims their girlfriend is cute. You know she might not have actually been all that I made her out to be, but perception is reality.

 

I met her through my brother. My brother has not made the story yet. This will probably be his only appearance. I was a pretty drunk 17 year old, that night.

 

About the drinking: I don't drink but one beer or glass of wine per day, always with dinner. It's the soigne' thing to do.

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I never drank in high school. What an achiever I am!

 

I started drinking shortly before I met this Jezebel. I got an ear infection that was causing me a lot of pain. I probably had health insurance from the Old Spaghetti Factory. I might not have. Either way, I had no idea how to use it, how to inquire about medical services nor anyone to turn to. So my brilliant solution was to drink some tequila to numb the pain. It worked. The whole bottle worked.

 

So I was miraculously transformed into a species of being capable of consuming unfathomable quantities of the lively toxin we refer to as Alcohol.

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On paper, I'm not an impressive runner. My best 2 mile time, recorded, was 14 minutes and 12 seconds.

 

On paper, PFC Ryan Hoffman runs 2 miles in just over 12 minutes. So this is a pretty easy match up.

 

" In this corner, the pride and joy of Alpha battery, standing 6 foot 4 inches and weighing in at 200 pounds, we have a soldier who never scores below a perfect 300 on his PT test. He will later claim to have drunk no alcohol when he testifies against Ben Taylor at his trial. The greatest hero alive, Ryan "the pure one" Hoffman!!!!!!!!"

 

"And in this corner we have a fighter standing 6 foot tall, weighing in at 185 pounds. He has a record of 8 beers, 2 whiskeys and he shared a bottle of soju. He has not worked out in over 4 months. He is the most infamous soldier of the year, Ben "the deserter" Taylor!!!!"

 

When I heard my name shouted, I knew that I had to leave. I don't know why I told the other guys to run. I guess it was instintive for them to run when ordered to, they would have been great soldiers, so they ran. They didn't have the training we did though.

 

Here's something hilarious. Of course my speed was a bit more compelling than my compatriots. As I outpaced them, my natural concern caused me to look back, if only for a moment, to see how they were doing. They had split off from my route. The other two soldiers started chasing them. Here is my question, one that I will die not knowing the answer. Why?

 

Anyway, when you have a 19 year old and a 22 year old, both soldiers who regularly run miles, in a foot race that will end in either escape of imprisonment, you are going to have one he** of a long chase.

 

I couldn't believe it, but I was putting some serious distance between us. About a mile into it I couldn't see him anymore. I saw, in a shadowey alley, a long wide, wall that was part of an abandoned foundation. I don't know why I thought it was a good idea, but I decided to tightrope this wall to the other end where I was barely visible. I don't remember the details of what led me to believe I couldn't be seen, but this is what I did.

 

I stayed on that wall for about 2 Doors songs and 1 Jimi Hendrix until I thought it was safe to come out. I carefully walked back and then stepped into a club to wait it out even more. I found the most remote corner in the bar and tried to be discreet; you know, as the only caucasian in the place. It wasn't 5 minutes later that Hoffman came in there. How did things like this keep happening? I had lost this guy over 10 minutes ago. Do you have any idea how many clubs are in Itaewon?

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There's love at first sight. There's also possession at first sight.

 

We had a rule, the three of us, so that we wouldn't co*k-block eachother. If we wanted to make a move on a girl, we "called" her. I "call" her! It worked, John and I never interfered with eachother and Kurt never got laid ever.

 

The night I met Mary, I was drunk, everything's pretty fuzzy. We met, she seemed to not like me, my intentionally mispronounced "desegregated driver" dropped her off at her house, we went home.

 

About a week later, this designing woman was spotted in front of my place of work, under the guise of her putting an application in, just as I was coming in. Do I keep asking you "what are the odds?" I don't know about the coincidence of this one.

 

This was a rare occasion that I was letting John and Kurt borrow my car. So I was being dropped off. I don't know what the technicalities of our rules of "calling" a girl for co*k-block prevention are. Maybe they only last 24 hours, but as John took down her number I had a minor rage build inside me. Jealousy was so foreign to me. Where did it come from?

 

Let's make a long boring story short. John invited her over that night. This is normal and safe. We have a 16 year old girl going alone to the apartment of 3 boys she doesn't know, ages 17, 17 and 20. There is going to be alcohol involved and she's not planning on coming home that night. She couldn't be a sl*t, I loved her and wanted her to be mine, all mine.

 

She was impressed by my jealously and she did sleep with me that night. She probably would have slept with everybody that night.

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I wish I could transfer my knowledge to good young men who get serious with girls.

 

The fun ended when a girl entered my life. I didn't go to clubs anymore because I wasn't looking for girls. I couldn't just waste a day in a park anymore, or take a ride on my stolen bicycle with no destination. No longer could it be just three young would-be musicians just hanging out, writing songs. Suddenly, I had to include her in everything. I really liked having sex.

 

I rarely have sex anymore.

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