8/7/09

Michael Vick ain't got nuthin on me!!!

After football player Michael Vick admitted that he had been running a dog-fighting business I wrote that he was an idiot. If he was going to engage in such activity he should have gone to Indonesia or somewhere else.

He certainly had the money to do so at that time. If he knew then what he knows now then he would have spent $10 million to run his dogfighting ring in Manila.

Today I did something that probably not even Michael Vick ever did: I ate dog meat. I never expected that I would do so. It is a bit scandalous because Koreans don't just kill the dogs and eat them. Rather, they will beat them to death while they are still alive. That allegedly is to get the adrenaline flowing which allegedly makes the meat more tender which allegedly improves a man's stamina.

I had told a friend that I wanted to give it a try. But as we sat down to eat I said: "I want to try this but don't give me any details until after we are finished eating."

It just looked like regular meat on the plate. It is like the first time I ate alligator. It had been dead and cooked. There was nothing threatening about it. If I had seen the thing getting hacked to pieces and then brought to my plate a few minutes later then I might hesitate. But just looking at some meat on the plate? Nothing scary about that. So I ate, forgetting for a while that I was eating what had once been a dog.

* * *

Where are you from?

Many Americans in Korea will complain about Koreans asking them: "Where are you from?" "How long have you been in Korea?" "What's your job?"

I've been asked those questions many times but they have never bothered me. I sometimes get creative in my answers.

This afternoon I took a trip outside of Seoul. A young Korean man was standing very close to me as I was texting a friend. We were the only ones standing (I rarely, if ever, sit on the subway). He was so close it seemed that he was trying to read what I was typing. Then, he started hitting me with the questions.

I warmed up to him immediately, treating him like he was a long-lost friend. It isn't that easy to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. In America most people are on their guard against such people. The rule generally is that anyone willing to start up a conversation with a complete stranger is someone to be avoided.

But in Korea, instead of the stranger trying to rob you after getting your guard down, the person is just trying to practice speaking English.

I could see that just about everybody on the train was watching us. I mentioned it to a friend, he thinks the others felt bad that (1) they aren't fluent enough to hold a conversation with a native English speaker (2) I probably looked so friendly that they wished they had the courage to strike up a conversation with me.

I was wondering...If Koreans aren't supposed to ask you where you are from or other chitchat questions, then what in the hell are they supposed to ask foreigners about?

Should they ignore foreigners? I've previously written about Americans in Korea who complain about being ignored. Some complain about getting too much attention. Some complain about the Wh-questions they get.

Anyway, the young Korean man and I got along until he started asking me about religion. At that point I cut him off. I'm not interested in the topic. A good way to end a conversation with me is to talk about religion and to try to continue after I keep yawning and let you know the topic bores me.

Of course, he asked me how old I am...

* * *

Herbalife

Walking home, a young lady asked me if I can speak Korean. I answered in Korean that I could understand some. She then said if I came into the store that they could give me a free diet shake and some type of herbal tea.

I told her I could be back in about 10 minutes. The young lady was both thrilled at trying to do business in English but also kept saying she was nervous trying to speak in English. She did her best to convince me that I should become a member with them. They would even give me a free blender if I needed one.

A free blender? That usually is a deal-maker with me.

Then, after I signed up and was getting to leave, they wanted to know: "How old are you?" I told them to guess. Of course, they were all off. Then, for the next 10 minutes they talked about how young I look, how lucky I am, they wanted to know my secret.

Suddenly, I was in an English/Korean conversation with 7 Korean ladies (mother and daughter store owners, a trendy fashion designer and a mother/daughter team there who were already members, and two other Korean ladies who seemed to be friends or were already members). They were all nervous about speaking in English. On the other hand, I wasn't the least bit nervous about stumbling around in Korean but lack the vocabulary to stay in a conversation for long.

I mentioned to them that I love to sing but none of them took me up on the offer, at least, not immediately.

CJL