Friday, June 13, 2008

Weird stories

One of my favourite comic book related blogs is Occasional Superheroine. I read several comic book related blogs on a regular basis, yet I like the ones written by women. They offer a different perspective on what is admittedly still a male dominated hobby (although that's changing).

Anyway, I read her blog today and found this post on what is your weirdest experience.

I don't know if this is my weirdest, but it's the first thing that came to mind. And considering it's been 11 years since it happened and I haven't thought about it for years, I suspect it must be up there. And since I'm looking for things to write about, this will do as well as any.

This happened when I was teaching English in South Korea. Now, vast swaths of my time in South Korea could be considered weird. But this is the one that stands out.

I loved trains in Korea. They were cheap and there are few better ways to see the country. So hopping on a train and spending a couple of hours riding around by myself was always a pleasure. I just made sure to bring my own snacks. Kimchee flavoured dried squid was not a taste sensation I wanted to repeat a second time.

If there was a problem riding the train is that it was hard to be left alone. I like my privacy. Maybe a bit too much sometimes, but there is something nice about just looking out a window and watching the country roll by. However, Koreans would inevitably see a white guy sitting by himself and would often sit down next to me and begin to chat. Part of it was, I'm sure, simple politeness. Poor guy sitting by himself, let's go over and keep him company. There's also something to be said about chatting with Koreans. You learn interesting things about people. I had conversations where I learned things about the countryside I was travelling through and about the country.

However, let's be honest. More than a few of them were taking the opportunity to get a free English lesson. They would sit next to you, chat in English and get some practice in. Which could be annoying when they were being really obvious about it. However, one of the weirdest things that has happened to me occurred in one of these chats.

I was sitting alone and this guy asked if he could sit next to me. Most of the carriage was empty and he was a younger guy, probably around 20. So this was clearly a "I need to practice my English" situation. I wasn't in a good mood, but didn't want to be impolite. So I told him he could sit. We're chatting a bit and I ask him why he's going to Busan. It's been 11 years, but I'm pretty sure it went something like this.

Me: So why are you going to Busan
Guy: I am going there to see my girlfriend. She's is not well.
Me. I am sorry. It is not serious I hope (I stopped using contractions in Korea. They tended to confuse people)
Guy: No. She has a broken leg.
Me. Ah, that is good that it is not serious. So, is your girlfriend beautiful?*
Guy: No, she is quite homely.
Me. Oh, ummmm
Guy: But sometimes we get drunk on soju and she lets me fool around with her.**
Me: Ah, well, ummm
Guy: I like soju. It helps being with my homely girlfriend.

The rest of the conversation after that was a blur. But that tops the weird conversations I had in that country. Even weirder than the one I had with one of my co-workers when she wanted to know if being 26 years old, still living at home and being a virgin would be considered weird in North America (Ummmm, a bit, yeah.)

Anyway, it was a surreal conversation. Then again, as much as I liked the country, South Korea could be a weird place.

So, do you have any weirdness to share?

* - It was a standard question that I would ask guys. Most like to proudly say how beautiful their girlfriend/wife was. And odds are they were telling the truth. I think the percentage of stunning women in Korea has to be among the highest in the world.
** - Which might not seem like a big deal, but back in the mid-90s, Korean men and women tended to not fool around much, especially if they were Christians. So for a Korean guy around 20 finding a girl who might "put out", I suspect that was a big deal.

Last Five
1. We used to be friends - The Dandy Warhols
2. Soft revolution - Stars
3. Tell me lies - Fleetwood Mac
4. Diamond Mine - Blue Rodeo
5. The scale - Interpol


Megan said...

Does anyone else feel bad for the homely girl who puts out? There's a story there.

towniebastard said...

I'm not condoning the attitude, nor am I saying the entire country is like this. But certainly in the mid-90s, I wouldn't say Korea was well known for its enlightened attitude towards women.

Like I said, it was a weird conversation. I genuinely didn't know what to say. What do you say to a stranger on a train who tells you shit like this?