Today was the first time I met my friends, Rachel and Andrew in Korea. This rendezvous with destiny was to be at Apgujung, Gangnam. Rachel and I were like the Asian version of Spanish conquistadores freshly arriving to the New World searching for riches and glory. With the oppressive summer heat beating against our backs, we met with a native cloaked in black. Black skinny jeans, black polo (collar popped of course), and a black satchel. Sniffling from a summer cold, he beckoned us to follow him and gave us a husky hello. Andrew became our personal tour guide as he led us down to this magical place. A Korean El Dorado. Some say that it only exists in folklore. A place called Rodeo St. There was no rodeo but there were lots of bars and restaurants.
We were all hungry and decided to go to this place called School Food. My comrade-in-arms, Rachel, understood the local customs and she and Andrew explained this ancient tradition where a group of friends would decide how many phases they wanted to initiate. Each phase can range from going to restaurants to bars to anything you can imagine. SoPhase 1 was eating dinner. We ordered fried rice with an egg on top, cold buckwheat noodles, and spicy dongkatsu (fried pork cutlet). The noodles were the same as eating them in any other place. The fried rice was probably the best modern version I’ve tried. The seasoning was amongst the rice like little star-dust particles dispersed in a slowly rotating galaxy. To cover this pile of star-dust and matter was a beautiful egg that was cooked so lightly and was so fluffy, that if a person shrank himself, he or she would sleep on it. I was surprised that it didn’t float away. Looking into the bowl and its contents, I knew that if there were any problems or troubles in my life, this dish (were it a super natural being) would say to me, “hey, everything is going to be ok”. Ironically, things started to go down hill. Justing looking at the spicy cutlet and its blood-red sauce, one can easily say that this dish was forged in the fires of Vulcan’s ass. Hot spice overcame all of us firing up our taste buds. Choking down another spicy cutlet, Rachel manages to say, “Who ordered this?!” Taking a gulp of water, I reply, “Andrew”. Rachel’s eyes turned into a fiery range never seen before as her pupil’s turned red. She then turned to Andrew and politely said, “Just who the hell do you think you are?! What made you order such a thing? You think this is just a fuckin’ free for all of ordering whatever we want?! Why not just order bull testicles then?!” I said, “Uuuh let’s not”. Andrew is on the phone but looks at Rachel with calm, pensive eyes. You know, those eyes that say, “Yea, I look like I’m drinking your every word. But in reality, I have no idea what you just said. I’ll try to make up something so I don’t get in trouble”. Putting down the phone, Andrew quietly says, “I’m sick”. Those two words seemed the raise the spicy heat in Rachel’s stomach to a murderous rage. Her fist clenches over her cup, spider web cracks began to form on the glass as she tried to contain her explosive anger. Realizing the dire situation, I wrench the cup out of her hand and lightly pat her forearm that seemingly began to sweat of blood and said, “Comrade Rachel, please calm yourself. This is neither the place nor the time to expose your anger to our guide. If he is killed by your nuclear level of energy, we would be lost in this foreign place. How about you try another sip of water”. Rachel took a couple deep breaths and sipped water and calmed down. She continued to glare at Andrew and I thought, “Man, this was so spicy that she will remember it until she is in her grave”.
Seemingly unfazed by how close he brushed with Death himself, Andrew lead us down the street to take us to a holy ground. The rumors were true after all. Rodeo St. is paved with gold. Andrew with his husky voice encourages me to keep walking and not to be entranced by shiny things that are only important to mere mortals. “Rise above your primitive inkling of gold and booze, my friend” said Andrew. “Let me show the path to heaven – No! the GATE to Heaven where you can live in everlasting glory and where comrade Rachel can heal her taste buds from the spices no man was were prepared for. Come my friends”. We slowly make our way to a temple of ice. The locals call it Snowmounteen” “What foreign tongue of the devil are you speaking,” says Rachel with an incredulous voice. “You mean ‘snowMOUNTAIN, right? Also, how can there be ice in this heat?”
Before I can even think, I find myself with three bowls of this ‘snowice’ in front of me. Coffee, mango, and lychee flavor. It’s as if God put snow in purgatory. Not snow but not ice. It’s like the old Korean saying, “neither rice nor porridge“. Just skip the negative reason originally used for such purposes. Usually a student or an aspiring graduate whose direction in life seemingly produces nothing. A person who trods the middle path when there is none to begin with. But such negativity does not exist with snowice. It’s as if God himself took a piece of heaven’s cloud and sent it down to Earth so those who eat it can confidently say, “Ahhh, there is a God”. Phase 2 ends and the rest of the evening became a massive slurry involving food and drink. Phase 3 became cocktails where I felt like Dumbledore. You know that part where he drinks from the stone bowl to get the horcrux? Yea, just imagine Dumbledore drinking two stone bowls of those. They just happen to contain jack and coke and a jagerbomb because SOMEONE I know couldn’t finish hers…
Phase 4: Fried chicken, beers, and soju. What an AWFUL combination that resulted with me moaning, “God, why have you forsaken me? What have I done wrong?” Rachel saying, “my stomach hurts” and Andrew serenely saying, “I think I have a fever”. We barely make it to Phase 5. Fuck the coffee, we just wanted some place to sit. Panting and shoving strangers around us, we sit on pillows and couches while a voice apologizes for being sick. Catching our breath, Andrew says, “I have been summoned by those higher than me”. “Don’t go!” said Rachel and I. “You are in no condition to face the tribulations ahead of you”. Andrew replied, “I have no choice my friends. They need me.” Before we could utter a word, Andrew stood up. He started glowing and became a majestic, prized stallion. An Adonis among men. If he were a woman, he could be Aphrodite’s long-lost sister. Maybe cousin. His black clothes started to burn. Was he turning into a mockingjay? Will he be the Asian Katniss? No. It’s a sign that the gods from Snowmounteen had chosen their native son as their representative on Earth. Little does Andrew know, that in the future, he will wish his life was as simple as a fish. As the glowing subsides, our guide’s clothes turn into a lighter shade of black. He rises. What will this vicar of snow and ice say next? “I’ll see you guys soon. It was fun hanging out. Oh yea, Rachel, at Snowmounteen, you didn’t eat mango. You ate a pile of piss. I just felt that I had to get that off my chest before I left”. A cough and a goodbye, he is gone, leaving behind a sweating glass of grapefruit lemonade glistening against the light.
Disclaimer: If you haven’t noticed by now, most of this dialogue never happened. However, the events like eating spicy pork cutlet and going to Snowmounteen were true. I did not mean to offend anyone especially Andrew and Rachel. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Thanks.