Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is the dawning of the Age of Emeriyus

Saturday the 13th was a golden day, one I'll remember a long time. (Not on the scale of getting married or having a baby or that first time you get to Krispy Kreme when the HOT DONUTS NOW sign is lit, but still.)

Since November 2010, I've never missed a Yongsan Kimchi hash run other than a few times when I was out of the ROK and once for a mandatory faculty event. So now I am a very impo'tant man: September 29 was my hundredth YK run, and at a hundred runs, you become an Emeritus Master. That means nobody can make you carry anything on trail or drink as "punishment" for your "misdeeds" or do anything you don't want to do.  People also pretend to respect you, which for me is a biggie. I've been counting down (up?) to 100 for roughly the last 90 weeks.
The patch Oranguspray and I designed for the occasion.
Unfortunately, my hundredth coincided with YK's 25th Anniversary event, so my official EM trail was postponed. Sadly, my official EM Saturday was also the On-Out (last hash in Korea) for my buddy, the amazingly nice and enthusiastic Oranguspray, our talented, dedicated Haberdasher (t-shirt/patch designer and tschotske wrangler). We've gone out to eat and chat in Itaewon after almost every hash for months. At the last moment, Youth in Asia, our resident jester--I've seen him smilingly challenge a Korean girl, despite the language barrier, to race him down an escalator--also found out he was being redeployed. So our "EM and Out" hash was bound to be somewhat bittersweet.

Youth and Orang.
But everything, absolutely everything, went just right on the day. The sun was out, the air was crisp and clean (as it almost never is in this sticky, smoggy city); we had a great turnout, including many who came specifically because of the occasion; and the trail Orang and I laid got more compliments than any I'd ever done. We started within easy biking distance of my home and I'd scouted it thoroughly, so it went utterly smoothly. We led them through some back streets, up and down and across the Yangjae Cheon (stream), up and over a woods on a hill... it was exactly the kind of trail I like and people loved it.

After the run, we made merry in the usual way in a pretty, wooded park, and then it was time for ALL. ABOUT. CORNDOG. I like to think I'm shy, but given an occasion, I eat up attention with a spoon. A big, wooden, stir-the-cauldron-of-stew spoon. A two-hander. With a thong on the handle. Which has my name engraved in gold letters.

Sir Lost-a-Lot, our leader and the other EM's, one by one, roasted and praised me (which is better than being roasted and braised).

Then it was time for the solemn investiture, a ceremony a little less august than the Pope's ceremony and a little more than the President's:
 ...and I was awarded  my official YK EM shirt. Ironically (since I spend so much of my career proofreading stuff), the shirt actually reads EMERIYUS MASTER. (I think that's hilariyus.) Then Valerie and Susan brought out the sheet cake...
 ...and showed me the respect I've come to expect from my hash buddies...
Fortunately, I had deployed my eye-protecting force field...

(I told Youth in Asia it seemed a big egotistical to post photo after photo of myself on my blog;         he said, "No, having a blog is egotistical." Fair enough.)

To top off the day, we gave my friend and training partner (and hash mentee) Val her hash name, had a nice chat with a policewoman who wanted to know what all the hubbub was,
  said our official "happy trails" to our departing friends, 
and 20 or so of us went off to the Alley restaurant in Itaewon for one last, long, festive brunch with Orang and Youth. It was the best, best, best day I've had in a very long time.
It was golden.