Chapter 15: Chapter 15. Ground Bait
“Are you here?” I bowed my head and greeted them.
“Yes, my son. How are you?” My dad nodded and hugged me.
“What in the world is this about?” My mom put down all her things with her eyes on me and started cleaning up the house.
I dissuaded my mom. “Oh, mom, leave it alone. I’ll take care of it.”
But my mom gave me a big slap on my back, and she collected bags of snacks on my desk and underwear hanging on my chair. “Are you on your own? Is this what you’re supposed to do?”
“Why did you hit your son after a long time?” I said, touching my hot back. My mom’s palm marks would be red on my back.
There, even my sister who closed the door said a word. “Why don’t you grow up, you’re almost thirty?”
I saw my sister, Su-Jeong, and asked flatly, “What, are you here, too?”
“Yes, I’m going to do some shopping and go down.”
I didn’t notice it when I was living alone, but it looked a little narrow with all my family in my little studio. I was sorry for my mom, who was hurrying back and forth and cleaning the house, and I joined in the cleaning.
“So, you’re not going to Sun-young’s birthday party?”
“Yes, I’m so tired. I worked late yesterday, too. Tell my aunt I’m sorry.”
“But it’s a family event… You should go.” My mom recommended it again, but my dad held back.
“That’s okay. Sang-hoon is having a hard time at work. Let him rest for the day. And if he goes to the first birthday party, will your sisters and nephews stay still?”
My dad glanced at me. As expected, my dad was the only one who knew my mind. I went on to say what my dad wanted me to say.
“When I go to the birthday party, my aunts and cousins will all get together and ask me if I’m not getting married, or when.”
That was actually a bigger reason than being tired. I knew it was not because relatives were malicious, but that kind of question was uncomfortable for me, anyway. I would like to congratulate Sun-young and my cousin, but I did not want to congratulate them by listening to such stories.
My mom looked at me for a moment, then took out her words. “Yes. Speaking of which… don’t you have any girlfriend these days?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“What about that pretty nurse you met then…” my dad said clumsily.
At the words, my mom, my sister and I stared at my dad. Only then did my dad, who had an inkling, scratched his head and said, “Ah… did you break up? I’m sorry.”
My dad didn’t seem to have any malice, but I had to think about her for a moment. ‘Bad bitch.’
My mom was on my side when it was like this. “That’s okay. She wasn’t good enough for you. She looked like a fox. Sang-hoon, forget about her and meet a new girl. Didn’t you have a blind date lately?”
“I haven’t had time for a blind date lately.”
“Why don’t you have time? You can meet on the weekend.”
“I’m tired on the weekend and need to rest. If I work late two or three nights a week, it piles up… I can’t get rid of my fatigue even if I rest until Saturday night.”
I sneaked out a story about my job. I was determined to cut in on the subject of resignation.
On the way, my younger sister intervened. “It is because you don’t have a girl you really like yet, brother. If you really like her, even if you feel tired, you will run to her.”
I shook my head and told my sister. “It’s because you haven’t worked overtime at work.”
“I am working overtime, too. Do you know how much I was attached to school at the athletic meeting a while ago?”
I retorted to my sister, “It’s not working, it’s playing, compared to working overtime. You’ll have to be nagged by your boss and then you will know…”
My sister had never lost an argument to me since the old days. “I’m nagged, too. These days, students’ parents are my boss, and I have dozens of bosses asking me to do this and that to their kids.”
“Parents… parents still use honorific words for you, but my boss just swears and talks down to me.”
“Stop it. Everyone has the hardest job they are doing.” My dad, who had heard us quarrel forever, stepped forward to mediate. My sister and I shut our mouths.
In the meantime, my mom slipped in a word. “You may then marry after your sister.”
I looked at my sister. “Are you still dating? The… doctor?”
“What is “the”? Maybe he will be your sister’s husband.”
“How long have you been dating? Two years? Three years?”
“It’s four years now. Why aren’t you so interested in your sister?”
“Are you interested in me?”
I did not know why a doctor who made good money liked my sister, but they had been dating for a while. It did not seem to be nonsense to say that he might end up her husband. I told my parents. “I’m fine. If she goes first… It’s not an era to argue about that, but it’s a time people who can marry first can go do so.”
At that remark, my dad cut in. “You can marry, too. You have a good university certificate and a decent job.”
Work. Eventually, the story came out. I drove the story toward the money this time.
“I have a job, but I don’t have any money. I don’t have much money saved, but I have debts…”
“It doesn’t matter what the money is. It’s all about the people,” my mom said.
“These days, women think rich men are good people.” When I said it, I suddenly thought, ‘I’m going to be popular, too.’
My dad clicked his tongue. “These days, young men just say money, money… We used to start empty-handed and finish the apartment…”
“That was dad’s time. It’s been a while. We have to work for almost ten years so we can buy an apartment.”
I took a hint and brought up a story I had prepared, in the name of retirement.
“So… I want to start a business if I have a chance while working at a company. As a salaryman… far from getting married, even dating is hard. I have to have my own business…”
My mom’s eyes grew bigger when I talked about starting a business. “Setting up a business? Will you try that again? Don’t you remember it took you a year to get your job?”
That was true. When I was a senior in university, I was preparing to get a job, but after starting a business, I abandoned trying to find one. At that time, my parents supported me, but I failed. As a result, I managed to get into the company because I was late in finding a job.
My mom said, reminiscing about the time. “You told yourself that in this country, they can start a business when they have money. That’s why it’s hard.”
I said a word quietly. “I know, but… Maybe… I will hit the Lotto winnings. If I happen to get a lump sum… I want to try start-up again.”
“Bah, you can’t do well with Lotto. Don’t think about it. Just go to work. There are a few hundred thousand unemployed young people these days. You’re talking high and mighty.”
“See you soon!”
“We will come again.”
“Don’t forget to clean up.”
“Yes, that’s right. That’s why you don’t have a girl.”
“Don’t talk nonsense and go…”
I sent my family off like that. There had been arguments like this and that, but I had achieved my purpose. Though I didn’t talk about it in public, I’d let out, ‘If I have money, I can start a business.’ I thought I should talk to my parents after a few more chances like this, along with having hundreds of thousand dollars in a bank account.
‘If that happens… I’m sure my parents will be surprised. What else do I have to say, then? As it is now… I think I cannot live with the usual life…’
But it won’t be too late to worry about it, then. Being rich is the first thing.
‘Ah, I was going to see if there was a Lotto article today…’
I sat down in front of the computer again with a sudden thought.