Sunday, November 9, 2008

This post has been approved for mature audiences only

...that title may be a trick to get you to read this, but it worked, didn't it? And any twelve-hour period that involves both an encounter with a hooker and running around halfway across a city in pajama pants has to be considered a little racy, doesn't it? Maybe not...

Last night (Saturday), a bunch of us from the Samduk and Manchon LIKE schools went out to dinner at The Holy Grill, a Canadian-owned restaurant. Originally, those of us at the Obamathon had planned to go there for drinks on Wednesday night, looking for similarly elated Obamericans, but we all pooped out. For Saturday, we opened it to anybody who wanted to come, and avoided political talk. There were seven of us; we ordered drinks and various burgers and cheesesteaks and (for me) a nacho platter the size of a manhole cover.

Afterward, we wandered off on our separate errands. My inexpensive wall clock had stopped working and E-Mart no longer carries them, so I wandered a half-dozen blocks north and west to Daegu (train) Station, then another half-dozen to HomePlus, the department store owned by Samsung and Tesco. I found me a clock, which even as I type is driving me a little nuts because I didn't think to get a sweep-second-hand clock and it's tick... tick... ticking in my ear. Maybe I can get a replacement at a second-hand shop. (Ba-dum-dum.)

On the way back to the main drag downtown, I ended up cutting through the back streets. It's pretty dark and almost a little third-worldy back there, though you can always see a sea of neon a few blocks away.

I was most of the way back to the bus stop when I was tapped on the shoulder. A really pretty, fresh-faced Korean girl, her face lighting up like I was her best friend, said, "Hi!" I knew she wanted something; Korean women do not just greet unfamiliar men, even if the men are quite extinguished- looking. Make that "distinguished".

My first impulse was that she was a hooker, though she was much more attractive and well-kept than I'd expect (quite a bit more so than Julia Roberts in that movie, actually), and the only hookers I'd seen in Korea were some rough-looking Russian women in Busan. Then I thought maybe she wanted a handout, but she was too well-dressed. I said "Hi" back, and kept walking; I figured that, if she really wanted something, she'd call out or follow me. She didn't.

I did a little research when I got home; turns out I had cut through Gyodong Market, which is full of little stores with great deals on electronics and tiny back-alley black market shops that specialize in Western goods you can't get here (like deodorant!). It's also a hotbed (ooh, bad word choice!) of prostitution. Yike.


This morning, I went out to run with Anna, a friend who also teaches at Manchon LIKE. She wants to run a 5K and had asked me to coach her. I only brought minimal running gear from the States: shoes, shorts, shirts. Unfortunately, "warmup suit" does not begin with "sh" and I had limited capacity in packing, so I didn't bring one. (Ah, crap... "socks" doesn't begin with "s" either. Well, it does if you're Sean Connery.) Onward.

What to do? Run in Dockers or jeans? No. Walk a mile to the subway and take the train two miles to the river, where we were going to run, in shorts? No; it was 50 degrees, windy, and damp. I know! I'll wear my plaid flannel lounge pants over my running shorts! (They're supposed to be for kicking around at home, but... don't tell anyone... they're my jammies pants too.)

I figured that: a) people would think that the American style is to run around in your jammies, or b) they think all Americans are crazy anyway, or c) they'd think I was just wearing plaid warmup pants. Oh, and d) nobody knows me anyway, and e) joke 'em if they can't take a... never mind. I will say I never would have dared do this till recently. I don't care too much what strangers think anymore. (Sandi's email signature is a quote from Einstein: "I'm at the age where, if people tell me to put on socks, I don't have to." Smart man.)

The lounge pants actually are great to run in. Turns out there are lockers at the Daegu Bank subway station where I met Anna, so in future I can wear jeans, go into the men's room to take them off, and stow them.

But you know what? It was kind of liberating to wear my jammies in the subway. I recommend it highly. The nightie should stay home, though.

No comments: