Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jesus Omurice, a loach! Get in the car!

In the future, when I speak about going to church, I will have to address it from the point of view of a person who has been to a Korean Presbyterian church. When asked if I've been Baptized (my family is Baptist), I'll say, "no, but I did watch a chorus of bow-tie laden women sing Jesus Loves the Little Children in Korean.'" It will be my way of saying that I've been absent from the pew for a number of years without having to say that I gave up the faith; it'll just be understood.

Of course I couldn't understand a word they said, whispered or screamed. I did understand when a man told me that he loved me having just met me, but I was later told that he meant "through Jesus." So then why did he grab my ass? I speak as if this church was any different from an American church, but the opposite is true. The only real difference was the language, and despite that, I understood when the preacher read John 3:16. It reminded me of sausage biscuits and Windex; these were the smells of the school bus that took me to church every Sunday when my dad herded us through the door.

I'm not an atheist, but I'm not a believer, either. When I think of heaven and hell, the sun and Jupiter, Omicron Persei 8 and our vast Milky Way, I think: What the hell do we know? and I leave it at that.

Church service was followed up by a traditional meal of Loach Stew, which reminded me again of my childhood, when my family would all squat on the floor and eat powdered fish off of small tables, surrounded by kimchi. Loaches are apparantly fish, but, though my friend's English is excellent, his accent some times makes an 'l' sound like an 'r', and thus I thought I was going to be punished; that somehow they knew that I was lying when they asked me to stand if I was a believer and I did.

The stew, like most jjigae (Korean soup or stew), tasted at first like soybean paste, which disappointed me; a lot of the stew tastes like soybean paste, which is fine, but kind of monotonous. But, after the second or third spoonful, I was thrilled with these new flavors, those of powdered fish and whatever else. I couldn't tell you. I do know that it looked like a bowl of dissolved toilet paper. A delicious bowl of dissolved toilet paper, it was. I turned to my friend when he asked if I was enjoying it and said, "I'm getting jjigae with it." In my home country, this would have at least received a groan or two.

After the soup, we were given a Korean style pancake made of spinach and loach. I wasn't as happy with it as I was the stew, but by that time I could feel my belt tightening and the kimchi coming up on me.

Later, after a healthy dose of The X-Files back at the loft (if I call it something grandiose it makes me feel better), me and my Korean friend caught District 9 at the fanciest movie theater I have ever had the pleasure of viewing a movie in. First, it was 10 stories off the ground. Second, it is decorated as if it were Halloween 365 days a year. And third, the bathroom stall had wall paper designed to make it look like the inside of a shoe store.

This theater, in the Podo Mall in Silim, was fascinating. You must take a number to buy your tickets. Kind of like a pharmacy. Or a cattle slaughterhouse. Then you select seats from a digital display and hope that they're good. Afterward, you wait in a lobby until a sign tells you that you can begin seating, kind of like an airport lounge. Or a cattle slaughterhouse. The ushers were incredibly polite, using runway hand signals to steer us into our seats, where we would deploy the breaks and hope to god we don't burst in to flames.

It's really funny seeing the Korean translation of the South African pronunciation of "fuck." Fook man. Fook!

And then: omurice. A mound of rice canopied by a thin omelete, usually surrounded by something else, like a pork cutlet or several dismembered fingers. I had mine with seafood curry tomato sauce. For five thousand won (about $4.50), I had a meal comparable to any I've had at a fancier Korean establishment. Take pride in your culinary extravagance for so little, Korea, it's truly a gift.

As I sit on my springy bed digesting thirty different sea creatures and rice, I cough consistently and wonder if I'll ever get over my cold. Short answer: yes, long answer: no, with a maybe. Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. O'Neal!
    How are you?
    I have joined your blogg and enjoyed your articles very much!
    BTW! I would like to postpone my anual( one n or two)? B-day bash at Disneyland after August, upon your return to USA!
    Very truly yours.
    Mrs. Gleenup