Monday, September 15, 2008

The rain, the park, and other things

(You have just gained a pound by looking at these photos.)

After class on Saturday, which I’d taken on for overtime pay on the three-day holiday weekend, Heeduk asked me what plans I had for the day. I told him I was just going to head downtown and visit Kyobo Books, people-watch, maybe see a movie. He said he was going to Kyobo anyway, and I should go with him. He drove me and two women who were his relatives, and speak no English, downtown.

After the trip to the bookstore, where I bought nothing and he spent a couple hundred dollars on books and CDs, he asked if I’d like to go with them to the Waffle House. With visions of grits and maple syrup dancing in my head, I naturally agreed. The waffle house turned out to be a 30-by-30 foot, three-story restaurant with a view of the main pedestrian drag, and the waffle turned out to be the base for a huge mound of whipped cream, scoops of vanilla and green-tea-flavored ice cream, chocolate sauce, grapes, and a tomato wedge.

Afterward, I took my leave and went back to Kyobo; It’s customary to take a small gift when you visit someone’s house, and I’d been invited to the Kims’ for Cheosuh (sorta kinda Korean Thanksgiving) on Sunday morning. After much hawing and a bit of hemming, I settled on an English-language copy of Fahrenheit 451; I figured, what better for someone who'd been teaching English for 40 years than a classic about the value of books?

Upon emerging from the bookstore to the lobby, I found it was a) dark and b) raining like a son of a... well, it was Florida rain; the sky had just opened up and was letting all its water out at once. After a bit of vain (weather vain, ha ha! Sometimes I crack myself up) waiting, largely because I was clutching a paperback book in a paper bag, I made a mad dash outside for the stairs to the underground shopping area.

The subterranean mall must be a half-mile long, with hundreds of tiny shops, entrances to department stores, and an IMAX theater. It has dozens of stairways up to the surface and down to the subway. At the bottom of these stairs, a store had set out a table with dozens of umbrellas for sale. I bought a manly black one, and found out later that it was scalloped around the edges. That may not be quite so macho, but then there are people who might say I’m a little scalloped around the edges myself, so whatever.

I wandered among the shops, hoping the precipitation would abate, and came upon a Krispy Kreme outlet. The nice young lady behind the counter offered me a free sample; she had obviously deduced from my build that I’d never had a doughnut before. It was hot, it was good, and I didn’t think a bit about how I’d just watched a Niagara of sugary, calorific glazing pour down on the doughnuts. It did keep my sugar buzz from the waffle going very nicely.

I kept perambulating subterraneously until the rain slowed to a drizzle, stepped over the little sandbags somebody had arrayed at the bottom of the stairs, and squished back up to the surface. Then I walked to the Bell Park and took a bus home; I figured I should get there before it poured again. And I did, barely.

Oh, and kids: always close your windows before you leave home, or buy a Samsung tv; they hold up nicely when they get rained on.

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