Friday, June 5, 2009

Lions and Tigers and beers, oh my

I went to work with beer on my breath last night. Wait! Let me explain...

I went to the ballgame last evening with my buddy Justin (that is not he in the photo, and I'm grinning like a moron not because I've been drinking-- this was when we'd just arrived-- but because... well, I'm a moron.) The visiting team was actually the Seoul Heroes, not the Kia Tigers, but how could I not use the headline I chose? Besides, Justin is a Princeton Tiger.

In the spirit of epicurian exploration, I ended up having one beer each of the three major Korean brands: Hite, Max, and Cass. My verdict? I'd rather have beer advertised by Clydesdales than three brands actually manufactured by Clydesdales.

I believe it may be the first time I've had three beers in a day since May 12, 1979. That was my friend George's and my bachelor party. No, no... we weren't marrying each other. (This was thirty years ago.) We were getting married three weeks apart. I'd like to point out, by the way, that I'm winning... I'm already through two marriages and George hasn't even finished his first! Anyway, we started with a keg of beer by the lake, adjourned for some evening/late night/early morning libations (I hadn't known that "two fingers" of Jack Daniels meant sticking your fingers into a glass and pouring whiskey till it reached the join of your fingers and your palm), the hangover wore off in 1983, and I haven't been drunk since.

Nor was I at the ballgame, not remotely. Three beers in over four hours doesn't have much effect. Anyway, I've conscientiously put on a few pounds since coming to Korea just to reduce my susceptibility to alcohol. I did have enough, though, that I ate a piece of meat accidentally. There isn't much food that I, as a veghead, can eat at the ballpark, basically Bugles and Nutty Buddies. Some guy walked by with a Costco pizza, famous for being huge, greasy, fatty, and glorious-- the pizza, not the guy-- and I was ready to cause an international incident to get it (and, if I'd taken it and eaten the whole thing, an internal incident as well.) I settled for walking all the way around to the third-base side to get some tteokbokki, which is very popular fast food, a cylindrical, solid, chewy "pasta" made from rice flour, served in a little bowl , drowned in a hellish hot pepper sauce. It really hit the spot-- actually, the sauce nuked the spot-- but the beer made me just careless enough that I assumed one of the rice pellets had somehow unfolded into a square. It was, as I realized the second I'd eaten it, not so much an unfolded rice pellet as a thinly sliced rectangle of chicken. Or possibly some mild fish. Or could be pork. It absolutely wasn't vegetative in origin.

I don't know if I can describe to omnivores, without being offensive, how horrifying it is to a long-term vegetarian to realize you've ingested a piece of animal. The nicest way to put it is with two words: Soylent Green. Lord, I felt sick.

Anyway, it was an exciting game; Justin had to leave after eight innings and missed an exciting ninth, when the Lions got a walk, a steal, an intentional walk, a fly ball that backed the left fielder up against the fence, and a single to set off this:

...and as I came out of the yagujang (ballpark), I saw that Heeduk had tried to call my cell five times, and I ended up taking a cab to work to help Chae-lin, one of my former students, prepare for a debate contest in Seoul on Sunday. Fortunately, it only took fifteen minutes, but it was odd going in to work after drinking. I mean, gee, I'm not a congressman.

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