Well, I sure as hell made up for my boring Friday night in yesterday.
First and foremost, I have to start by apologizing (indirectly, of course) to all the Korean men I've harassed for taking pleasure in being called "oppaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Because last night, I found out that it's not that easy to ignore it, when a cute little thing like this:
spends the majority of the conversation saying, "아, 누나-ㅏ-ㅏ-ㅏ! 난 애기가 아니에요!" -- "Ah, Noonaaaa! I am not a baby!" -- and pouting.
Wait. This is so in medias res, it's not even funny. Let's back up.
The day started innocently enough with me leaving my somewhat disorderly apartment (no excuses -- was in the entire night before, remember?) at 11 am to meet Small Town at the station, where we would meet his coworker Patrick and his girlfriend Ruby to go into Seoul and "shoot guns and eat steak". We made the painful 2 hour subway journey to Lotteworld, where the shooting range and The Sizzler both reside. First up was steak -- I made myself eat the entire 40,000 piece of bloody meat, because it cost 40,000 won, and because I've actually never had a proper steak before (and probably never will again). It was pretty good.
After, we headed out past the skating rink and down a brightly lit hallway into a shady looking room with walls covered in photographs of guns and targets in the shape of men. In stark contrast to all of this, the room was full of what appeared to be fairly modern, young, good-looking Korean couples, holding their matching bags and giggling to each other about the entire situation. I guess this is still Lotteworld we're talking about, after all. By some twist of fate, when the woman asked in Korean which gun I wanted to shoot, I placed my finger, firmly and unknowingly, on top of the photograph of the most powerful pistol they carried -- the Smith & Wesson 686 357 magnum.
Shady smoking lounge at Lotteworld Shooting Range.
Couples shooting guns.
When I got into the booth, the guy did his best to explain what I was supposed to do (and not do) to me through mime. I was thinking to myself just before cocking the gun for the first time, this all seems straight-forward enough and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing, but this may not be a bad place to have at least one fluent English speaking member on staff, just for peace of mind....
My first six rounds were total wank, two not even hitting the target at all. When the guy when to reload my gun for the next four, he did something remarkable with this fingers without saying a single word which somehow conveyed to me precisely what I needed to do to hit the target. The next four went right into the bulls eye and the first ring surrounding it. Assah.
This is where things get a little muddled. I had planned on parting ways with the group at this point and heading over to Hongdae to check out the festival, while waiting for Willie and co. to meet up for drinks later in the night. Instead, Small Town decided he would bail on the dance performance of a co-worker (?) he was supposed to go see that evening, and hang with me and Willie and co. At which point his sort-of-boss and sort-0f-boss's girlfriend decided they wanted to take us shopping in Lotteworld, since we had some free time.
Whatever. I hate shopping. And at this point I had had just about enough of the crowds and meandering around at the pace of molasses. But I tolerated it and even (gasp) bought a couple of things for the fall (out of the discount bins, of course -- I'm not paying 175 thousand fucking won for a t shirt -- ever -- thank you). I eyeballed the fancy espresso machines and gawked in horror at the prices on the electronic dictionaries (one of which I intend to buy very soon). It wasn't so bad. Outside, we three (minus the girlfriend of course) were sharing a cigarette when Patrick decided to invite us back to Incheon for dinner and "just one drink" before we went out in Hongdae. Now, mind you, we're two hours from Incheon and an hour from Hongdae. And Hongdae is an hour from Incheon. Small Town being Small Town however, he jumped at the opportunity to socialize further. Somehow in the confusion on the train I agreed to go as well.
I was pissed off beyond belief by the time we reached Bupyeong. I didn't understand why it was necessary to a. eat anything ever again after that steak meal; b. go all the way back to Incheon just to have a drink; c. ride the fucking subway for two hours to get anywhere ever -- hello? I know there's a bus that's both faster and more comfortable....
Waiting for yet another train....
Then they decide that we can't have the dinner/drink in Bupyeong -- we should continue on to Arts Center. I nearly blew a fuse and just went home. But I didn't want to piss off Small Town's sort-of-boss, especially when he really had been quite kind in showing us around all day. So off to Arts Center we went, where the couple redeemed themselves for this commuter-hell nonsense by showing us down a staircase I've walked right past half a million times and into a pretty swank (and expensive) hookah bar -- who knew?
Me and Small Town at over-priced hookah bar.
Afterwards, me and Small Town headed back to BP to check out the scene and see who was out and around. We ran into that terrible gyopo again and he continued to prattle on about how he did a photoshoot for Lilbowwow that was "off the hook, yo!" and how he was fucking some 20 year old, while his super slammin' girlfriend was away in the States. God.
Time went on. There were a few episodes with the locals outside on the street, but nothing to write home about. Small Town and I decided, around 4 am, that it was time to head home and get some sleep in order to make yet another attempt to go out to Hongdae to check out the festival today. Walking to a cab, we heard a, "Hello! Nice to meet you!" from behind us. We turned around to see a young couple, the girl dressed decidedly like a boy and bearing a tattoo in English down her forearm. I had been talking about girls and Korean girls and how I need to find some fucking female friends to Conor earlier in the evening, and doing my best to make an argument about how befriending Koreans who have tattoos just because they have tattoos is completely valid and reasonable. The two spoke literally zero English, so I chatted with them for a few minutes in Korean, translating back and forth for Small Town. They were headed to another bar, and although I hesitated, glancing somewhat longingly at the line of cabs (one of which could swiftly carry me home to much-needed sleep for oh-cheon-won), Small Town enthusiastically agreed and I decided to follow suit.
For the next hour or two, we sat at the table using -- of all things -- my broken Korean to communicate. It was probably the best practice I've ever had, and definitely the most I've ever spoken. At some point, that cutie from the top of the post showed up and the girl informed me that he was a Korean movie star. He was cute enough to be, if you ask me. He kept leaning over and touching my face, saying "Sexshi girl! Ee-peu-da!" to which I would always respond, "Aegee..." -- hence the continued "Ah, noona! Aegeega ahniyeyo! Ah, noonaaaaaaaaaaa!"
At some point, the bar closed. Walking out, everyone decided to return home except for me, the awesome girl and Aegee. We sat at a plastic table drinking Cass as the sun came up, speaking nothing but Korean the entire time. Before the boy who had originally been with the awesome girl went home, he wrote me this note:
Please be nice Bo-Yeon. She's my very lovely sister. She have a many pain and scratch on her's heart. I wanna you give Bo-Yeon's happy recollection. Please. Healing her's heart scratch. If you understand my words. Wink to me.
I told him before he left that I liked Bo-Yeon very much, and even though she can't speak English and my Korean is so low, I would like to be her sister, and help with her heart scratch in anyway that I could. As he walked out, Small Town leaned over to me and said, in all seriousness, "Now Liz. I reckon that there is a fair candidate for a boyfriend for you."
I didn't hesitate in my reply: "Yeah. He was a good one. A genuinely good person."
"He's got no ulterior motive whatsoever -- not even the trace of one. Loads of humility and quite candid about his own faults. And his only concern is... "
"Taking care of his little sister. I know. We lucked out tonight, with these ones."
"Aye, sure enough."
"This is why I'm studying Korean, [Small Town]. I told you I feel like it's better on the other side."
"No, aye. You've got the right idea, alright. You've got the right idea..."
All together at the bar.
Plastic table sunrise beer drinking.
Sunrise over Bupyeong.