May 24, 2012|
Look, I know this really isn’t deserving of a column—or even a paragraph—but this brightness is annoying. Kim Kardashian annoying. Henry Tang’s face annoying. Trying to get a taxi on a Friday annoying. No matter what you do, it is impossible to make it dark in Hong Kong.
“Blackout curtains.” This is the proposed savior of the opaque—a thick, weird-feeling material which teleports your apartment to the dark side of the moon. String them up and the world will be plunged into eternal gloom and you can make out with people like teenagers awkwardly hooking up in a basement closet.
The only problem: they don’t really work. Every time I return home at 5am from making questionable life choices, I change, brush my teeth, and close the curtains with an epic flourish. In the absence of killing prehistoric tigers with spears, this is all I have left to assert my masculinity: WHOOSH—the MF curtains are CLOSED. Then I collapse on my bed with visions of rising at 1pm, eating a cheeseburger, and psyching myself up to go to the gym when I end up actually just watching YouTube in my underwear.
But then, inevitably, I rise like a more insane Lazarus. 9:15am and I’m up. Light is everywhere: it’s burrowed its fat face into every corner of the room. Those small gaps—between the wall and the curtain, between the two curtains, above and below the top and bottom of the window—have opened a morning of pain and streaming, light, invading my room as I curse and swear at nobody in particular.
Basically, blackout curtains are like bouncers on Wyndham Street bars: they look tough, they act like the club’s exclusive, but they inevitably let everybody in. Which is fine if you’re a clubs-are-for-dancing-not-posing person, and terrible if you’re a ray of sunshine drilling yourself into my eyeballs.
“Maybe you’re doing it wrong,” my friends say. “If you just met my curtain guy (R sounds creepy, right?) he’d sort it out and you’d be living like a mole in no time.” I’ve seen two curtain guys and they can’t really make it completely dark, but for argument’s sake say it were true. Even then, we still have a problem, Houston. And this time… it’s coming from inside your home. (Cue horror movie music.)
I don’t know when, but basically electronics have become needier than a do-you-think-she’s-prettier-than-me? Hong Kong girl. They beep and flash and say “charge” or “unplug me”; they vibrate and pulsate and then break down leaving you another four thousand dollars poorer just so you can have your iPhone 4 status symbol. Hey Lenovo laptop, I know you’re charging. You went “BEEP BEEP” when I plugged you in, then you had a red light, then an orange light, now a green light. Shut up. Just shut up.
And TV, if you’re off, just be off, OK? I don’t need that red light at the bottom of the screen telling me that you’re off. Growing up, you know how I knew a TV was off? There was nothing on the screen. Amazing, right?
My greatest battle is with my air conditioners, which perch themselves six feet above my head and have this little green light which is on no matter what. So even when I move out the TV, laptop, speakers, phone, and Blackberry, there’s still this small green eye watching me, muttering, “Yes, I will refuse to make it dark no matter what. I hope you enjoy premature aging.”
And let’s not even get started with evening light pollution.
Yalun Tu is a columnist for HK Magazine. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @yaluntu on Twitter.