Sunday, October 5, 2008

i met park for dinner--it had been a few weeks since i last saw him. we had spicy cuttlefish and i had a chee-gay (stew) made from beans. it was quite good. it turns out i can use chopsticks well. i get told this often enough. we ate, then left, as is so often the chronology. he asked during dinner, 'how often do you drink?' these questions always sound so big, but usually its because there is a lack of nuance with english. 'two times a week or so.' 'at home? alone?' 'no, generally out at a bar.'

generally, park and i have easy nights--some dinner, then some talk about hangul and english, with a coffee or tea, then we part. when he asked if i wanted to go do something else after dinner, this was what i had in mind.

apparently the drink-frequency questions were to gauge what i could handle.

we went to yangpyeong, which has a reputation for being a smidge seedy. we were driving through back alleys trying to find somewhere to park. he was telling me, unlike hongdae, which is a late teens-20s crowd, yangpyeong is more 30 plus. as we were looking for parking we passed THE RITZ MOTEL, THE DYNAMIC MOTEL, and THE BEST MOTEL. the seediness was becoming more than a rumor.

as we were crossing the street, he pointed to a large neon sign and asked if i could read it. (i could.) he said it means 'massage'. i asked, 'just a massage? its near quite a few motels.' 'yes (laughs) it may be illegal'.

while discussing what i like to drink at dinner, i mentioned that i really like makgeolli (or makkoli) and so we headed into a traditional korean bar. basically, it was set up with all these old contraptions that use to be common to korean life. we ordered our makgeolli and anju (in most korean bars--always if you are with a korean--you have to order anju, which is basically some food to eat along with what you drink).

bowl of makgeolli and anju

we drank and talked. we talked about kristin a bit. how she is going to be a poor lawyer. i acted out representing abused women and animal rights. 'very good person'. he told me how he went to law school, but failed the examinations to actually become a lawyer--which i thought was interesting as he is a director at a company that designs cellphone games and ring tones. then we talked about how my hangul limits shape 'my korea' in that most everyone i talk to is well educated, otherwise they wouldn't know english. amongst other assorted things. then he asked me, 'do you find korean women attractive?' 'some,' he laughs, 'there are attractive women all over the world.' we talk about that for a bit, then, 'are you okay to drink some more?' 'yes, i think so'. 'i have a friend who is fillipino that you should meet.' i went to the bathroom.

i paid the tab (as i also paid for dinner, since he had bought me dinner every time prior to this), and we left, as is so often the chronology. 'i like liquor, but it doesn't like me'. i thought this should be a t-shirt if it isn't already. 'i turn red when i drink'. 'ah, it just means you are korean'. (many koreans turn very red when they drink, even if it is one or two drinks.) 'let's go meet my friend, it is a very bad nightclub, but that is where she is'. 'okay'.

we arrive at the CARNEGIE NIGHT CLUB and it is weird. the women who great us all have red blazers on, all the male waiters look like they are at a prom, or in a wedding--paisley gray vests, with pink paisley ties. the club is extremely dark, and the club area is partitioned off with giant black walls, with blue neon piping. we are lead to a table, and we sit down--no friend of his in sight. we sit for a minute, then park tells one of the women in red blazers something. he turns to me 'we are going to get a private room, it is too loud out here.' it is loud. the patrons are korean couples, mostly, in the 40s or 50s, completely dressed up, doing the fox-trot to house remixes of WHO LET THE DOGS OUT.

we get in the room, and it is basically a u-shaped couch, with a table, a closed circuit feed of all the action on the dance floor, and two microphones. essentially, it is like a deluxe nor-ae bang (singing room). a moment later, a bottle of whiskey, some iced teas, some green tea, a carton of milk, and a fruit tray arrives.

the spread

'do you want to get girls?' 'um...' 'or do you just want to sit in here and drink?' 'um...' i have no idea what this means. especially given the occupation of most fillipinos in korea. lots of scenarios are running through my head. most of them involve things that i shouldn't be doing until kristin gets here.

'do you normally get girls?' 'yes, it is common.' ohfuckohfuckohfuck. 'okay, let's get some girls.' a minute later this ridiculously cute girl enters the room and sits down right next to me. ' you need some more room?' 'maybe he doesn't like girls,' park says. 'i could be a man if that makes you more comfortable,' she says. i am now in some adolescent-psycho-sexual drama.

we start to drink, i am being feed fruit, things could be worse. he keeps being called 'mr park' and i decide for the rest of the night to call him 'chairman park'. i'm on the verge of thinking everything will be fine, then chairman park leaves the room. i light a cigarette, so at least i have a weapon. 'you need to calm down.' and i should. but the only time anyone has ever said this to me has been in my strip-club experiences, which i haven't had in years. 'well, i just have never been in a place like this, so i don't know anything.' 'well, you seem like a good one, and mr park is very kind.' 'oh, there are some real assholes here?' 'yes, some just say to me 'how much?' just like that. the owner hates me, because i won't sleep with anyone in here. i am just here to work tables. and i tell them, 'no, no, no. julia doesn't do that.'' i am relieved. she is just here to hang out. chairman park comes back in. he is married with two kids, i wouldn't have known how to react to that. we sing songs, and all sorts of shit.

i go to the bathroom, and look to the neon white disc in the middle of the dance floor where earlier a heavy-set korean man in a shiny white suit was singing TOM JONES. currently, there is a stripper/dancer. she is wearing a jeweled g-string and bedazzled pasties. this was quite surprising. my experience in korea is generally you can get a handjob when you get your haircut, or go to the numerous whore-houses (there are two around the corner from my apartment), but pronography is off limits, and there aren't any strip-clubs. i suppose 'cabaret' gives them enough wiggle room. in the bathroom i look up and see two korean men gazing at my dick, they give me thumbs up.

as the night goes on, i find out i look like bruce willis, am handsome according to the male waiter, and cute, but not frightening. bruce willis threw me for a loop. we get outside, late, and chairman park says, 'i have had too much to drink. do you have money for a taxi?' 'yes, what are you gonna do?' 'sleep in my car'.


Al Cohen said...

haven't been to strip clubs in years, eh? what about matt chambers' stag?

kevin.thurston said...

oh, yeah--i guess i just remember matt having less clothes by the end of the night then any of the strippers

thanks for fact checking

Gary said...

I am an idiot. I had no idea you were in Korea, Kevin.

While I'm sad you're not in DC, where I might run into you again soon, I'm thrilled to see you blogging about your experiences there.