Pages of Euphoria
Sunday, June 15, 2008
  Best Men
The call of a friend was heard halfway around the world. If I remember correctly it came in the form of an email, and when it did I was most likely eating a bowl of cereal, watching Jeopardy, wearing a t-shirt with a ferry boat on it. One of the finer people I have ever met, Nam Jung Hyun, who is all parts South Korean, was getting married in Seoul. He asked me to be the best man, and it was (and still is) an honor I couldn't have been prouder to bare. His name and reputation are not foreign to these computer screen pages of mine, as tales of his deeds are many and reach back to the Beginning of my adventures abroad. Don't be confused by his other monikers: Johnny Blaze, the Korean Barbarian, or the Manchild, as they all pertain to him.

Moving on in the complete and utter lack of a segue, as stated before, I suffer from G.F.C. or Greenberg Frugality Complex. I am not frivolous with ca$hmoney, and I advise you not to mess with mine. Furthermore, the #s were throwing back at me for a round trip ticket from Seattle to Seoul and back were not in the least bit encouraging. It was in fact a raging turn-off, squandering my lifes' libido. A dash of cold water, a strange Spanish man falling in love with you in the early morning hours, or someone eating your puppy are all situations comparable on a "turn-off" scale. I needed the advice of close friend Megan and her strawberry blond man love James (refuses to recognize he is a ginger). A mountain top shrine was not needed to hear their advice, a thunderbirds/silvertip hockey game with open bar access proved to be sufficient. And they told me, Joe, you have the money, he is one of your best friends, just fucking DO IT!!!! I heard their deeply complex message, bought the ticket, bore the momentary hole in my bank account, and went.

Korea felt good. Felt like the hug of an old albeit faceless friend; the identity of which is not important, just the fact that their company is warm, refuge can be taken in it, and has been missed. It was all waves of nostalgia and deja vu gracing those same Seoul streets that still smell like tangy hot garbage and cigarette smoke. I was elated to be back there again, even though I was walking through an almost supernatural experience, knowing I could yet would never work in Korea again for reasons known only to myself.

Thoughts of those people I would see and the free airplane booze got me through the 12 hours or so of travel it took to arrive in South Korea. It was sheer rapture and excitement from meeting up with Johnny, Keith and Hillary that kept me going like a Mick Jagger in his prime for the last 12 of a 24 hour sleepless day. The 1st 12 hours IN Korea went like this: Accompaniment and helping of John asking his fiancee to marry him (for the 3rd Gottdamned time). It involved the spelling of "I Heart U" in candles on the roof of his car, sparklers, and epically screaming the question to a 15 floored Apartment building at 1am. To say the man is into romance is like saying water is wet, or that Boy George is a little queer on rainbows. However I must admit he is wandering in landscapes of psychosis with the degree he takes his romance. His previous two attempts of popping the question involved a toy box on Korean t.v., and renting out the top floor of a ferry, throwing in a band just for kicks. I would personally marry Sasquatch if his proposal included those kind of loving theatrics.

After his fiance accepted for the third time in her curlers and went back to sleep, us men of course went to bond over alcohol. The spot was a fine bastion of inebriation; a good old fashion Korean bar. Serving beer in huge clear plastic jugs bubbling like a witch's cauldron with the smoke from dry ice frothing from the top. Keith, his younger brother Mark, Johnny, his younger cousin Andrew and myself all klinked our pints, dropped shots of soju inside (the countries hallmark 20% rice grain alcohol) and drained our beverages in the speediest of fashions in true celebration of one of Korea's most enjoyable customs, the Soju bomb. Of course, no drinking in Korea goes without an enormous platter of assorted sausages, or saw-say-gees as locals call them, grilled to greasy, stomach pleasing perfection. Food, drink, and company that made my spirit truly soar.

And the 3rd stop, as any person trained on Korean custom will predict, was a trendy Noray Bong (personal Kareoke room) named Prince Albert in the Hongdae district of Seoul. The regular bangers were sang/sung in wonderful group unison. Keith still loves to sing "under the sea" as made famous by Walt Disney's The Little Mermaid. In the past his singing of that song made me want to commit hate crimes, however this time it wasn't so bad. Call it a case of absence making the heart grow fonder of tasteless situations....hahaha, not like I ever sing grimacers with my voice that's like smooth honey and used motor oil. And speaking of tasteless situations, our raucous noray bong session ended with a rendition of the Beatles' "Hey Jude," yet upon finishing the song the chorus somehow morphed to "take your pants off right now." Which, while we all furiously chanted, did; and then placed our bare backsides on the wall panels of glass facing the street and its' people outside. It was a move crass, rude, appalling, disrespectful; in NO way directed specifically at Korean people or Korean culture. also was complete and utter release, invigorating liberation, side splitting laughter. If only for a few seconds before the manager became unglued. Sexualities confident and cemented in hetero assurance, our bare asses were a site we all decided Seoul needed to see.

Shortly after destroying that noray bong, we parted ways in the grey and pallid morning light to find sleep. I collapsed into mental darkness on a mattress on Johns' moms' living room floor in exhaustion not having slept in 24 hours. Due to jet lag and time zone difference, I would wake up 4 hours later. The next 6 days would maintain a theme of sleep deprivation, violating situations, and pure fun. Not to mention the wedding of one of my most excellent friends. Of which all I will say is that there were loads of bubbles, the wedding cake had a smoke machine, blinking lights and it was cut with a sword, and I had a personal translator while delivering my best mans speech. In Korea, life is like a jar of Kimchi, you always know what your going to get: spicy, wet, wholesome fermented goodness. Onyoungeekaysayo peeps.

ps. when in Korea you get ill, not sick.
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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I come from a small town north of Seattle, WA, where I learned that rain is a magical thing because it turns things green. I have had the chance to go a few places and see a few things of which all I have are pictures, memories and stories. I am currently living and learning about Los Angeles, California, and what it means to be an Angelino.

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