Eun-Ae from South Korea – Conversations with tourists – by Mark Ulyseas
(Names and places have been changed. Conversation edited for coherency and brevity. This is second in a multi-part series.)
I live in a small town where people dress up to go to the ATM.
And there are others that are kind and generous and often give you a little extra. I am referring to fruits and vegetables. Of course the ubiquitous pimp is always hiding in plain sight eager to offer you boys, girls or a gram of something or the other.
The rains are here making it humid. Stickiness is the temporary new normal.
Stickiness has its own advantages because some of the younger tourists prefer to hang out half naked and loose. Add a few drinks to them and you can take one home … whatever you fancy, one with pimples or the other with dimples. It really doesn’t matter for it’s only a release valve.
An interesting encounter today with one of these sticky types feels like mental masturbation with a twist; The twist being the sudden urge to purge rising inclinations to penetrate another’s aura (as they say about these parts).
Conversation began with the spilling of my drink by a young woman who bumped into my table.
“I’m so sorry,” she says.
“Never mind,” I reply, wiping the spilt whisky with some paper napkins.
“You shouldn’t do that,” she rebukes me, “we must save the environment”.
I ignore the righteous indignation and gulp down what is left in my glass.
“May I join you?” she asked.
“Yes, I suppose, please do…”
For a moment she rummages in her bag and takes out her phone.
“If you are going to play with yourself, perhaps you should do it at another table,” I say firmly.
“Oh sorry, I just want to check if there is any message from my girlfriend”, she replies and hastily puts the phone back in the deep recesses of her bag.
I order drinks for us hoping to have some prime time with the lady later in the night.
But when the drinks arrive she pays for her drink. It is apparent that she is the type who makes the advances. You know the one that doesn’t like being kissed or to talk about love while having sex with a stranger. Kissing and talk of love being reserved for the boyfriend, husband or whatever that was waiting at home for her.
We both sit in silence at the round wooden table at the sidewalk café, watching the evening crowd.
“Are you a homo?” she asks.
“Nah, I’m a lesbian, love women.”
She laughs loudly and touches me, almost friendly, on the shoulder,
“I’ve heard that one before. Actually I am a kind of homo” she confides.
“Really, what kind of homo?”
“I am a woman and like some women love the male aura. But I can’t stand the masculine sweat, hair and coarse breath and the sour cream smelling armpits”.
“What ya mean so?”
“I mean if you don’t like the male accoutrements then how do you do…?”
“Aah I thought you would ask. Well, let’s first order another round of drinks.”
When the drinks arrive she pays for mine, too. I smile and feel warm all over.
We raise our glasses, look at each other and take a swig. Then laugh. She is enjoying stringing me by the short hairs. I am the old horse, strong and yet clumsy between thought and action…like a trapeze artist on heroine while performing an act.
“Where are you from?” I ask.
“Korea”, she replies pointing to the ground.
“Oh, South Korea.”
“Yes. In Korea we women find it hard to find a man that we can live with. Most of them are pretty, almost feminine. They do their hair, nails and often wear eye shadow. And the women always want to dress girly like, even if they are over fifty,” she said raising her hand in the air.
“So what do you do for men?”
“Oh, that way. No, no I don’t really like that kind of men…I mean straight men. I like homos. But most homos want men men and not like me.”
“What do you mean men men?”
She took my right hand and gently placed it between her thighs. I could feel her male masculinity rising to the occasion. Quickly I withdrew my hand, shocked.
“See, that’s why I asked if you were a homo. I fancy you. I could show you how to handle women.”
“But you are a woman? Your breast, your body, your face, those lips…did you have an operation?”
“No, I was born like this. And through childhood I was abused by my brother and his friends. They would come home after school and play with my…now I am 22 years of age and still my brother wants to look at it and play with it. So I moved out of my home last month. I live with a woman who loves me. She works in a factory and I, well, I dress up as a school girl and wait on company executives who frequent this special bar. They like school girls. We must sit on their lap while they are drinking and sometimes shake or suck them, but penetration is not permitted by management. Money is ok. I hope someday I can leave Korea with my girlfriend and live in a place like this…we can open a small restaurant. I am still young.”
I look embarrassed.
“So sorry I should have told you earlier, I thought you would have known”.
I don’t reply. Instead I look into my drink where I notice an insect floating, waving its wings for help. I offer my fore finger; it climbs onto it, shakes, flutters its wings and is then gone into the night air. It’s flight path erratic. I suppose whisky does that to you.
She touches me on the shoulder and says, “My name is Eun-Ae. And what is yours?”
“Akela? What does it mean?”
“It means alone but not lonely. There is strength in being alone.”
We sit in silence.
“Today is my birthday. I would like if you to join me for dinner,” she says.
“Yes. Happy birthday Eun-Ae, wish you the very best for your new year!”
She calls the waiter over and orders two Chicken Khoa Soi, which is a noodle soup.
“Don’t you want to share a pizza?”
“No, in Korea we must eat noodles on our birthday because we believe it is a good omen for long life. The noodles are long, get? Of course there is seaweed soup but I like Khao Soi.”
A short while later dinner arrives.
Before we leave the restaurant she reaches out and touches my hand whispering, “I am sorry I do not give you happiness but maybe one day you will find happiness, a happiness that will stay with you forever.”
On my walk home I stop by the satay stall and buy some grilled pork for MeMe, the resident bitch of my guest house. As I near home MeMe runs up to me, her swollen teats swaying from side to side like laundry on a clothesline in the wind. I bend down, pat her on the head and place the banana leaf with pork on the pavement. She sniffs at it, and then begins to eat.
I stand next to her and look up at the sky.
It is dark and comforting.
© Mark Ulyseas