April 15, 1997

Cheju, South Korea

I wasn't able to meet up with the Master until after the fashion show. He took my hand and marched me backstage as it were, and we watched as reporters and photographers circled his wife. She held bouquets of flowers and smiled graciously--befitting her celebrity.

The Master then put me into one of the many cars that were heading back to his stone manor in the sticks. Before we pulled out he told me that JT had been calling for me; left me several messages asking for me to call him back. And so it was that the long drive from Cheju city out to the Moseulpo area was spent thinking about how my next conversation with JT might go.

I didn't think there was any way JT could know that Skylark was not with me any longer. But I was pretty sure he had spent the past few days obsessing about what she and I might be doing. I thought it might be bothering him, but I never expected it to drive him mad. So while I waited for the rest of the Master's family and guests to arrive, I called up JT in Seoul. He wasted no time ripping into me. The conversation was long and difficult, but there are two things he said that I will never forget.

First he told me he had given Skylark his heart. He kept saying that phrase: "I gave her my heart." And he blamed me for stealing her from him. That's odd for three reasons: she wasn't interested in him, I wasn't interested in her in that way, and he had only known her for about 6 weeks when he "gave her his heart." So sad.

The second thing he said that I will never forget: he said "maybe we never were friends." Maybe we never were friends? We knew each other 9 years. We roomed at college for 2 years, and spent one summer selling Kirby vacuums together. We road tripped to San Diego and Tijuana together. I went to his first wedding (in Vegas ~1992 where I won $3275 playing poker well before the poker boom). Not friends? Never were friends? Over a girl he hardly knew? Hmmmph.

That revelation really threw me. I avoided the party outside for quite some time until the Master came indoors and found me alone with my thoughts. I explained what happened. He told me to come outside and join the party. And so I did.

The party was 50 or so likeminded Korean revelers, lots of Soju, and several open fires with meat grilling all around the backyard. Despite my melancholy, the party was unsurpassed. Kind of old school, a tad third world, primal, and me as out of place as can be. Yummy meat everywhere. Models. Good times. And soon enough the singing started. The Master and several of the partiers knew I had some Korean songs in me at the ready and they pressed me into service. I resisted for a moment, then gave in. However, instead of falling back on JuJu Club, I busted out a heartfelt song in English by a band that JT and I both loved and had seen in concert together more than once. It was a kind of final tribute to a friendship that never was:

Talking fast couldn't tell me something
I would shed my skin for you
Talking fast on the edge of nothing
I would break my back for you
Don't know why, don't know why
Things vaporize and rise to the sky

I continued singing, feeling it, bringing it like I do, until I finished. At that point I realized my eyes had been closed for the whole song. I opened them to see a bunch of Koreans staring at me like I was from outer space. Awkward silence. And then came the pressure to break off some K-pop.

And so I did.

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