Soju Wanna?

Posted on May 11, 2009

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IT IS A BLUE BILL that takes me from one end of the hill-encrusted and concrete infested city to the other. The blue bill is old, with that soggy feeling all old money gets when it has passed through enough fingers. I hold it eagerly as the 461 slides up between the traffic into it’s loading station. Three plump, wrinkled ajumas, each robed in arabesques of floral patterns step forward. Each are fitted with a visor, each are elbowing their way into the bus before I can climb the stairs.

I feel the ache and the anger in these old fucks. I sit down beside a man with skin so old it looks like panty-hose stretched over the gnarled roots of some ancient tree. He can’t see me; his white dead eyes are fixated on some fantastic geriatric-daydream, the kind that only passes through decaying neurons.
He farts the entire way to Sadang, and the farts are kimchi farts. They are orange-powder smelling farts and when he gets off I can almost see it seeping from the back of his attempted-beige pants.

Sadang is one of the city’s culture veins. Three young men step onto the bus. On a day the color of a newborn mole, one would think there is no need for sunglasses, but these three young fashion cultists think otherwise. Big, white rimmed silvery lensed sunglasses they strut along the aisle with pre-wripped jeans and hot-black fedoras ever so perfectly crowned atop their well oiled black hair. Indeed, the bus platform has become a runway and I even see a woman take a photo of one of them with her “camera pone”. The word celebrity in Korea is so monogenic.

One of the men replaces the ghost’s spot, he sits to pose- holding his body in a half-kneel, it is a miracle he doesn’t fall off the seat. Maybe it is a miracle that I don’t push him. He smells like nothing, not even paper. He is a colored shadow flexing for the green-line crowd, a proud sub-class of the blue-billers.
The mannequin’s hair blows in flocculent waves over his giant, saffron-and-silver face. He turns to let a puff of window wind in and I catch his eye through the glass in front. It is a sad eye, the eye of a newborn sucking the nipple. He knows I see it, and I know he knows and in that moment we share a secret so painful that we both understand that we can never look at one another again in this life.

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Posted in: May 2009