Written during my off time whist working at home during the Covid-19 zombie apocalypse. These true stories are to the best of my recollection.
“The Diffuser” was the greatest warrior of our secret band of heroes. Skilletto, aka Uncle David, isn’t really my uncle. The baroness and I call him that because Sophibee, the daughter of his superhero sister, “The Bumbler,” lived with us for a spell when we were roommates during Sophibee’s terrible twos. Whenever Sophibee wanted his attention, she’d holler “Uncle David! Uncle David!” More about Skilleto’s secret identity another time, plus I’ll write more about Bumbler in a future story; today’s story is about Skilletto and his mom.
About 20 years ago, Skilletto and I had apartments in what many on our island called the ghetto. It was inexpensive housing in an expensive California city, racially diverse, with a mixture of Hispanics, Europeans, Blacks, Asians and Caucasians. The folks in town, even the poor ones who didn’t live in that large complex, looked down on our hillside community. A mutual acquaintance who, before going to jail for embezzling money from the tourist hotel he worked at, asked us if we wanted to be roommates in the pricey condo he rented. The dude was low on funds, in divorce proceedings shortly after his soon-to-be ex had their baby … seems he was doinking his cousin, an attractive woman I dated before that news broke; the gene pool on the island is quite shallow and there aren’t a lot of eligible partners to choose from.
Skilletto is a mixture of German-American and pure Korean, conceived after his father, an avid martial artist, was stationed with the Air Force during a tour of duty in the ROK. His mother was a classical Korean dancer. The two met at a church function.
A natural storyteller, Toastmaster, stand-up comic and athlete, Skilletto coaches girls basketball at the only high school on the island. He works as a city parks and recreation leader, a suitable job for his talents. Prior to that, he earned an income for about 20 years as a popular massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office. He’d tell us horror stories about his job, from clients with poor hygiene to clients who asked him for a happy ending. He is handsome and was much sought after in our small city, being very physically fit and a formidable mixed martial artist with assorted belts.
For a catch like him, it got awkward when his former students got old enough to legally drink and came on to him in the local clubs. He was in his mid-20s and I my early 30s when we met and became epic friends, so much so that he was best man at my wedding and I flew halfway around the world to attend his marriage on the Big Island.
A painting of his mother from her dancing days hung over the fireplace. She was young and very beautiful when she posed for the portrait. Uncle David got his good looks from her. Bumbler, a single mom, had more of her dad’s features; she was frequently chatted up by the town’s hopeful menfolk. She and I flirted a bit, but she was hung-up for too long on Sophibee’s dickhead father, a violent loser who got kicked out of Marine Corps basic for being … well, a dickhead. That dude ruined more hook-up chances Bumbler had with some righteous guys. Eventually she got a good job on the mainland and works as an aesthetician, with clients such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.
For the record, they have an older, full Korean half-sister who unashamedly worked for years in Las Vegas as a prostitute, supplementing her income by being on the dole with multiple children out of wedlock. She is a very sweet woman and is worth a full story another time.
Once, when Skilletto was waiting outside a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor for the owner of the clinic where he did massage, a local wisenheimer started verbally jabbing at him, trying to get him to demonstrate martial arts moves Skilletto posted on YouTube showing him leaping skyward to kick an apple skewered at the end of an uplifted sword. We’ll call him the wisenheimer Stinky for this part.
“Can you kick that hanging plant?” Stinky asked. “Huh? Can you, can you?”
Dressed for dinner, Skilletto ignored him.
“Can you kick as high as that lamp post?” Stinky persisted.
“Stinky, I’m not going to kick anything tonight,” Skilletto sighed. “I’m just waiting for Dr. Adam. Go find someone else to bother.”
Stinky backed off, only to start telling other guests arriving about how high Skilletto could kick. The hero kept his eyes on the seagulls circling over the harbor, paying Stinky no heed.
“This is Skilletto, and he can kick your head off.”
This went on for a few minutes until Stinky finally got under Skilletto’s thick hide when he said: “This is Skilletto, Dr. Adam’s minion, and he can kick your head off!” Stinky said.
At that point, Skilletto gave the dude serious stink eye and said “Yeah, I can kick you in the head.”
Stinky stood down and backed off.
Skilletto tells a story about a time when he incurred the wrath of his otherwise gentle, Bible-quoting mother. While she normally didn’t cuss, there was one time when she was giving her son advice on marriage.
“Don’t marry blondie,” she said, heavily accented. “Marry Korean girl, not White girl. Blondie no good for you.”
“But mom, you married a White guy!” he pointed out.
“I fucked up!”
There’s a certain shock value when one isn’t known to swear. That is the only story he ever told about his mother dropping an F-bomb. He was even more surprised to learn just how good she was at Korean martial arts when he came home from high school and she chastised him for some minor offense. She was standing at the sink, washing dishes, when he blurted out: “Mom, that’s bullshit!”
She stiffened. The plates clattered into the sink. She slowly turned and assumed an attack position. With sound effects worthy of Bruce Lee, she came at him with punches, jabs and roundhouse kicks. Skilletto was already an accomplished tournament black belt then, and he blocked, blocked and blocked, slowly retreating from the kitchen; after all, a good young man never hits his mother. Once in the hall, he turned and ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.
“Heeeyah!” mom cried as she took the door off of its hinges with one mighty kick.
Skilletto fell back from the door into the tub and covered up, accepting the rain of blows until his mother was satisfied she’d made her point.
This was the only “fight” he ever lost.
(In the next Diffuser adventure, the hero tells horror stories about his experiences as a massage therapist, when we were attacked by a Chinese warrior princess, and how he watched, bemused, as my mouth wrote checks my skills couldn’t pay.)