I’m old. This isn’t news. Recently, I’ve become dangerously close to becoming a real person. I eat vegetables. I’m eating McDonald’s and pizza slightly less (though I threw down both today). I thoroughly clean my apartment every week, even vacuuming. I recycle. I pay my taxes. Well, file my taxes. I just crafted a small “office” in my apartment so that I can stay home and write rather than go to the bar. Worst, and most embarrassing of all, I joined a gym a week ago, and I’ve even gone a few times. I swore to keep it on the downlow, but here I am, outing myself. I never planned to ever have a “gym” conversation in my life, but I’ve had roughly 4,000 in the last week. However, I promise you this: I will never, ever have a “gym” Facebook or Twitter (once I inevitably get into that) update. I don’t want to read other people doing this, and I know you don’t want to either. This is the last I’ll speak of it on a public forum.
Though it seems I’m losing my edge (if I ever had one) and becoming a real person, I can still fall safely into the cartoon character category. Case in point, as per always, last weekend. I had a reasonably quiet Friday, drinking till 4 of course, but no later, and not to such a massive degree as my primary goal was to avoid passing out in public. I even met a girl, but choked as only I can. She looked at me a couple times, came up to me from across the bar, bummed a smoke, and hung out while I proceeded to charm her by saying... nothing. “Um, so you teach English eh? Cool, uh, me too.” This is why I drink. You would too if you had to deal with me all the time. Later, I played her in darts, which gave me a great opportunity to be really tight and nervous and inevitably lose the game in a big way. I also had some cool banter like “uh, so where you from?” I was really shocked that she didn’t just throw herself at me after that. She left, of course, and I played my buddy in darts immediately afterword, played loose, and won - which mattered a lot since we’ve played over 9,000 times.
I woke up early the next day (2 pm, early for a Saturday) to go hiking at the mountain near my house with Don and Martin. Don had already climbed a different mountain earlier that day, so he was a bit behind on energy and ahead on booze due to his habit of throwing back cheap rice wine on the peak. Though he was his usual mountain-goat self during the hike, he quickly crashed upon our return, but got back up to go for dinner and drinks. We hit up a Korean restaurant in Nowon that we go to pretty regularly, and moved on to the usual bars. Other than our discovery of Mojito, bartender Rain’s new bar (which actually served limes, heretofore unheard of in Korea) the usual bars were ungodly dull. Realizing it was only 11 and the subways were still running, we headed to Hyehwa.
Predictably, Don (who moments ago was lobbying to go to Itaewon, a longer subway ride than Hyehwa) passed out on the train within minutes. Martin and I then had this exchange with him:
Martin: Wake up.
Don: (looks up at the station sign, sees “Hyehwa,” closes his eyes again) Wake me up when we get there.
Martin: We are there.
Me: Where did you think we were going?
Me: We came here from Nowon.
Don: Okay, cool.
Don lasted about five minutes in Hyehwa. I bought him a coffee at a convenience store (and in a mistake I won’t repeat again, my first Smirnoff Ice since the year 2000, when it was cool to drink Smirnoff Ice. Awful, awful drink.) After all the mountains and rice wine, plus the later beer and soju, Don was done. He got back on the subway and went home.
Martin and I walked up and down the major nightlife street in Hyehwa, and realized it was, on this night, as lame as Nowon. All the foot traffic was heading for the subway stop, we were the only ones going away from it. It only took until the merciful end of my Smirnoff Ice for us to join the subway-bound crowd and make the obvious change of venue - to Itaewon.
Not surprisingly, Itaewon was rocking. It was just a matter of finding the right bar. After having no more than one or two drinks in several establishments, we ended up at the old game-changer itself sometime after 3 - Polly’s Kettle House. Last time I was at Polly’s, as you may remember from a previous post, the bar was so dead that it literally put me to sleep. True to the never-ending schizophrenic nature of the joint, this time it was packed, mostly with English-teacher types. A fairly cute skinny drunk blonde girl and her goateed, lerchy, douchy looking boyfriend were standing not far behind us, so of course we made fun of them (though not loud enough for them to hear). Tending bar was a Korean dude who spoke flawless English, and the cocktail “waitress” was either pre or post op, can’t tell which, but who was obviously (based on voice and Adam’s apple) a full-fledged dude at some point in his/her past.
Martin got up to take a piss. I talked to the bartender about my recent adventures at Polly’s. He said he had been working the night I passed out outside, but never noticed. The skinny blonde and the douchy lerchy guy hovered closer to Martin’s seat. Martin returned, asked the blonde to step aside so he could reclaim his stool, and then did so. She took some offense to this malicious act of seatbacks, reached back to South Carolina, and slapped him in the face as hard as she could. Then she poured his beer on him.
I was, of course, shocked, and immediately started lobbying the bartender to get him a new beer for free. He asked me about the confrontation, and my report, essentially, was “that bitch is crazy.” And she was. Martin, beer soaked and slapped, yelled at blondie to get the hell out of here, and she reacted by hitting him in the face. Repeatedly. Where was douchy lerchy goatee guy the whole time? Voraciously making out with the cocktail “waitress” at the next stool. Blondie started talking to me, rationalizing her actions, saying that she had the right to the vacant barstool. My reaction, reasonably, was just to tell her that she was crazy and to fuck off. Fortunately, she did, but not before giving Martin a fat lip and causing him to lose a contact, but luckily without slapping me too. Most bars would have kicked her out, but Polly’s isn’t most bars.
Again, Polly’s doesn’t disappoint. If not for places like that, where I can witness my friend get assaulted by a crazy blonde waif while her boyfriend makes out with a ladyboy, old age might really take hold, and I may be forced to consider buying mutual funds and more than one suit. My only complaint- not that they didn’t kick that crazy girl out, as that would be un-Polly’s-like, but that they never did comp Martin a beer after that ball of blonde crazy spilled his.