Monday, November 24, 2008

Norebang? Sure. But hands off my produce section please.

Every time someone asks me "do you have appointment later?", Korea's version of "Are you busy?", I end up drunk or naked. Friday was no exception.

While at Sam-jin middle school, Sam-jin was the scene of the crime to the blog post "Beatle mania", my Korean co-teacher, Jin Sun, pitched me the "do you have appointment later?" line. Since I was the invitee, and since this is Korea we are talking about, I knew I was in line for a free meal. "I'm actually free tonight," was my predicable response.

Dinner was a two pronged attack. First, they were wishing their best for a soon-to-be departing teacher. Second, it was to welcome me. Nothing says "hey, welcome to the gang" more than not being able to speak to anyone at a large dinner. That's where soju comes in.

Pitched as a cancer cure all, a social lubricator, a societal strengthener, and the eventual Achilles heel of the Korean people, soju offers a little of everything. More than anything, it's speech therapy in a bottle.

First of all, Korean's are very surprised when I opt for soju over Hite, Korea's pride jewel. Anyone that has had Hite, deemed appropriately "Shite" by people in the know, understand that this wasn't the Rubix cube of conundrums. With that much said, we hoisted our glasses with whatever bitter brew we were drinking when the principal instructed us to do so. The principal Mr. Oh, who I can only describe as the theoretic love child conceived between Danny Devito, Chewy from the Chelsea Handler show and any male Soprano's cast member (seriously he looks Italian), is very eager to do a shot with me so I oblige much to his delight.

We continued to eat and drink, and for the record, it was my first time eating living octopus, and was obviously quite fresh, if not extremely chewy and partially alive. The Koreans laughed at my inability to operate stainless steel chop sticks (they're slick) and laughed even more heartily because the task was exacerbated by the animal's locomotion across the plate. Just when I finished the octopus, a man walked over and waved me over to his table giving me the international symbol for "drink." Who am I to say "no"?

I sat at the table with 4 men and Jin Sun. The first man, introduces himself as Tad. His English is pretty good and he mentions several times that he studied the subject in the Philippines. He is quite friendly and the needed linchpin for our group communication. Another of the men introduces himself, and when I have a hard time understanding his name, he says, "Yunggiver. Yung - Guy - Ver ... just like the very popular American television series." I got the feeling that he thought it was still popular and didn't want to tell him that the teenage girls weren't exactly swooning over Richard Dean Anderson anymore in case he'd just picked up the series on LaserDisc last month.

Long story short, the men, varrying in age from 35 to, shit I don't know, 60, looks like they had a head start on the soju. Glassy-bloodshot eyes, wobbeling cross legged sitting, and that beautiful slurred Korean-accented English was the best way to describe this table. These guys were hilarious just spouting off English sentences, so interspersed, I had to really concentrate on connecting the dots in my head with everything they said. We drank and by the end of our dinner, they wanted to make sure that I knew that I was their "brother".

With arms around each others shoulders, they staggered and I steered us down the narrow road to the Norebang; the Korean singing room.

They sang traditional Korean tunes while I hammered out cheesy rock staples of yesteryear such as Sweet Child o' Mine, Every Rose Has it's Thorn, Take it Easy and Desperado. For a guy that hates the fucking Eagles, I find it's interesting that I had, not one shitty Eagle's song, but two. Regardless, everyone sounds good at the norebang because of the steep echo and vocal enhancements. Shit, they could make Hellen Keller sound like Pavarotti.

By this time the men were blitzkrieg drunk, I mean just stammering about the place dancing around and holding everyone they could get there hands, including me. That's about the time that they got a case of the "grab ass" and I became their pinata. There were pinches from the back and pinches from the front. It was all in good hearted humor as they were laughing and having a good time but as you can guess, I was slightly bewildered. "Is this good?", "have I done something wrong?", "am I accepted now?", "is this the foreplay for some sort of sex repayment for dinner?" were all questions swirling about my hazy head.

Turns out I didn't have to have sex with anyone but the latter part of the night left me shaking my head. Norebang? Sure. But hands off my produce section please.


Kirk said...

Yep. Nothing quite like booze to stitch individuals and cultures together. One if my favorite word challenges while learning German was to get teams together in a besotted den of iniquity, and challenge the teams (English/American vs. Korean) to (1) come up with as many ways if saying someone is inebriated/drunk/wasted/high and (2) then putting the words in order from least buzzed to most hammered. My team came up with 28 ways of being shitty.

As for the produce... That's just a bit odd. Blackout drunk and finding oneself Naked... Sure. But a handy game of grab ass? Well, the blog is getting it's fair share of excellent experiences and stories.

Soju... She seems frisky!

Colette Reid said...

G, sounds like good times are being had by all...especially the Korean men! I like the way that Soju seems to be compared to something different in your blogs...I believe the first time it was brought up, it was compared to teenage women!

Kirk, nice idea! 28 you have had some experiences! Wherever you make sure to visit when Garrett gets back! We miss you!