Dave Eggers / How Do The Koreans Feel About The Germans
Short Short Stories
How Do The Koreans Feel About The Germans?
You are sitting in a movie theatre, waiting for the previews to start, exploring a scratchiness at the back of your throat that makes you feel both feline and distressed. You're plumbing your throat as best you can with the heel of your tongue and, while doing so, you are wondering how the Germans feel about the Koreans, and vice versa. You know generally how Americans feel about Germans (it's complicated) and how Americans feel about Koreans (we don't have such pronounced views), but you don't have any idea how the Germans feel about the Koreans and how the Koreans feel about the Germans.
You first surmise that they probably don't think too much of each other either way. Then you remind yourself that everyone has opinions about Germany, so you deduce that the Koreans probably have more distinct ideas about the Germans than the other way around. But do the Germans think much about the Koreans? You want to ask a German, but you don't really know any Germans. Not well enough to call on the phone, for sure.
In college there was Sabine, who was from Frankfurt, in the US on a tennis scholarship. She was beautiful and broad-shouldered and didn't, even distantly, think of you in a romantic way. After a few weeks of friendship, in the way you have assumed thereafter is common to all Germans, she told you of her complete lack of interest, in clear and unvarnished language.
But, beyond Sabine, do you have any Germans you could ask about the Koreans? Perhaps you could call an embassy. But it's after 9pm, and you need to know now. You need to know now how the Germans feel about the Koreans before the previews start.
You turn to the older couple behind you, he with a beard and she with a small goitre, and ask them about this, about how the Germans feel about the Koreans. The man says, "That's an odd question", and goes back to eating a sandwich he has brought with him. The woman, however, gives the question some thought and says, "I'd imagine the Germans would feel the same way we all feel about all of the so-called foreign peoples of the world: we wish them freedom and safety and hope. And besides, are we all that different? Aren't we all getting more alike? Aren't the people of the world heading toward some kind of giant amalgam, a human Pangea, if you will? Wouldn't that be interesting: the continents drift apart, the universe expands, but at the same time, people become ever-more the same all whirled together by th . . ." And at that point you lose track of what the goitre woman is saying, because the previews have begun. Man, that Garry Marshall seems to have done it again!