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By Shannon Noni Selis

The days when men were men and women smoked cigars.

The days when men were men and women smoked cigars.

Growing up in a modern world required me to think on my feet. I was put into karate classes at a young and impressionable age and completed it through a double black belt level… or something rather. It was a while ago. Needless to say (you’d think), I can fight someone if it came down to it. I grew up with access to computers and the internet. I had an online boyfriend when I was 12 years old. He lived in California and we talked about everything. Ah, to be so young and trusting. Too bad my parents found out and gave me a lesson on how I could be stalked due to my inconsiderate actions.  To this day I wonder if the boy I talked to was a young person like I was, or if he was some pervert waiting for me to tell him my address and cup size.

I had heard my grandparents and neighbors from the Midwest talk about how they miss the good old days. The days when neighbors were known and trusted. The days when you could keep your front door unlocked and go to the store. When kids could play outside without supervision, the fear of kidnapping not a whisp of a though. I didn’t know what that meant. You always lock the door behind you, always have an adult outside, never talk to strangers, etc. All of my life I was accustomed to knowing the super sneaky place to hide the spare key. If I couldn’t find it, I’d go to the neighbor who had known me since I was in diapers. Time passed, the good old days went with it. Eventually keys and garage door openers turned into digital locks with 5 digit pass-codes. I wasn’t sure who my neighbors were two doors down or even across the street.

As I got older I learned more about the dangers of the world I lived in. When I was 20, I had an ex-boyfriend who was mad at me for telling the girl he was seeing behind my back that I was seeing him too. I’m pretty sure I should have been the angry and vengeful one. But it wasn’t until 2 years later I found out he had copied all of my pictures from Myspace and Facebook and created an account about me on Ratemybody.com – a website similar to Hot or Not…but dirtier. I went from being a 22 year old living in Hawai’i to an 18 year old massage student who gave ‘happy endings’ and specialized in lap dances to earn my keep. It didn’t take me long to figure out who had posted this degrading profile about me. It had me thinking twice about what I put online. I still think I could be a bit more private about my life. Why, just the other day, I found a picture of me on Facebook holding a “cigar” that was as long as my foot titled “Foggiest Night Ever.” (Rest assured, it has been deleted.)

I decided to try out other places in the world. I moved to Thailand where life seemed more rural. I thought about how quaint and charming it was. A place where people are so nice to each other. “Maybe this is what the good old days were like,” I thought to myself. Not long after, my iPhone was smashed by a Scottish asshole who wouldn’t apologize or have the decency to help pay for damages. I was learning not to trust others with my stuff. A coworker moved into her new place and had a mattress delivered. An hour after the mattress was settled, she realized her iPhone, Macbook, and tablet were all missing. Thanks to technology the items were tracked, but unfortunately never recovered. Another coworker was driving his motorbike and got hit by a tuktuk. The driver got out and saw he was foreign and drove off. I was riding my bicycle to school and almost got hit by a truck, so I veered out of the way and go hit by a motorbike. Who was to blame? Apparently, the person who was out of line: the foreigner on the bicycle. I was being held responsible for a motorbike accident? I was on a bicycle!! Luckily my school had my back and instead of paying thousands of US dollars I was only charged a few hundred – for being on a bicycle. I believe ‘SMH’ is appropriate here.

I spent a few months back in the US and met a few guys along the way. One of them said I should take a chance on a trustworthy guy. I started to, but decided that my trust wasn’t so easily given away. Stupid gave me his last name and I noticed his 2 arrest records…within the last 3 months. Bitch, please. I finally hook up with a guy who I kind of liked who worked in the same building as me, but lost interest since I knew I was leaving soon. When I stopped answering his dirty text messages, he threatened to tell the people in the building about my behavior in the bedroom. Luckily, my soothing words and explanation calmed him down. But I keep wondering, what happened to the good old days? The days when a girl and guy kept their mouths shut except to their closest friends during a gab sesh over pizza??

It was this past September that I moved into my new apartment. The old tenants were literally moving their last stuff out, I was moving my stuff in, and the cleaning crew had already started removing every item left. I stayed while they were cleaning to make sure they didn’t throw away things I wanted… like 12 rolls of toilet paper. Somehow, though, I missed them throwing away my only and best winter coat. I called my managers immediately and asked them to figure out what happened. The cleaners claimed they had thrown it away. Then I did something I never thought I’d do in my life: I went dumpster diving. I tore apart every bag of trash in the apartment complex’s dumpster as the building manager watched in dismay. There was no jacket. I’m convinced to this day that it was taken by those cleaning ladies. Everyone kept saying how strange it was for my jacket to be stolen because that stuff doesn’t happen in Korea. If something is left on the counter, you leave it there. If you find a credit card, you take it to the bank or to the police station. My trust was already lost, Korea.

I was looking for my key yesterday morning for about 20 minutes. It was no where to be found. But I HAD to have had it or else I wouldn’t be in my apartment otherwise. Then an odd and creepy thought entered my mind… “Maybe I left the key in the door last night.” I unlocked my front door and gulped nervously. I reached my hand around and felt for the lock. There was my key: in the door where I had left it. And nobody had tried to take it and come back later to rob me clean or rape me in the middle of the night. I felt relief in two ways yesterday: the first that I hadn’t lost my spare key, and the second that I was as close as ever to the good old days.

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Shannon Selis is an English teacher and massage therapist currently frequenting South Korean karaoke bars. When she’s not teaching, singing show tunes, or mastering recipes, she shares her experiences at wittylmt and Another Food Thing.

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