Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My friend Mr. Frank

"WHEN I was in the locker room with some American guys, I was so impressed," my Korean friend said above the noise of the bar.

"Their penises were so big."

 No, he wasn't that drunk. He just didn't do subtly or, seemingly, embarrassment. This was the same guy who had announced to me and a group westerner friends over dinner that his mother often fought with his dad over his drinking. His mother and father -- him with drink in hand of course -- were at the table at the time. No one batted an eyelid. Brutal frankness must have run in the family.

"My weakness is my small penis," he continued, without anger or sadness, but a smile. He laughed and slapped my back. Ho ho, indeed. Was I supposed to laugh? I supposed I was. I worried he would have his head in my lap, spilling tears and yelping like a kicked about puppy before the end of the night. But he looked all right. He could see the funny side of the biggest insecurity any man could have.

"I think western girls like big penis," he went on. He wanted to meet a white girl. He had already apparently. But his curiosity hadn't been sated.

"Well...." I said (just what do you say?) "I don't think girls care about that too much. I mean, I don't think it is that important." I was western too, you see, I knew all about these things. Or so he seemed to think.

"Really?" he said, his ears perked.

"Uh...yeah," I said, looking into my drink and telling myself we were the shallower sex. I wondered if I believed it.

And then we ordered more drinks and drank. And he told me some more of what was buzzing about in that brain of his. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Twin and transactions of the heart

"OH, you know my friend The Twin and her boyfriend are OK now?" the girlfriend drops into the conversation casually. The twins are two of her friends I have yet to meet. One of them has been dating the same guy for 8 years. Last time I heard, she had wanted to break up with him and had told him so. He had other ideas.

"Oh? I thought she wanted rid of him?" I say, "What happened?"

"Well. . ." she says pauses and furrows her brow. "I don't want to say. You will think this is like all Koreans."

 "Don't worry I won't. What happened?" I reassure her, intrigued. This was going to be interesting. This guy had definitely done something above and beyond a dinner date to win The Twin back.

"Well, he asked her for her bank account details. And then he gave her 2,000,000 won," she says, labouring over every word.

"2,000,000 won? What? Why?" What had he done to owe her the equivalent of 1,200 euros? Had he sold her wardrobe for drugs? I had to be missing details.

"Just to show he cares. He wanted to make a gesture."

"To. Show. He. Cares?" I say in disbelief. 7/11 must have been all out of flowers and chocolates that day. 

"Yes. I don't like," she says, well aware that I find this beyond belief.

"She got back with him? But she was done with him. I thought that was it? So he gave her a pile of money and now she's staying with him? You are telling me that is literally what happened?"

"Yes," she says, "so strange. I hope you don't think all Koreans like this."

I damn well hope not, I think to myself. Not if that is the cost of a relationship. . . With what is in my bank account, I couldn't afford much on the market of love. 

Probably not even a sloppy kiss on the mouth from a bearded man with chronic bad breath.