A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ego Scout

I've generally been of the opinion that I'm a modestly attractive guy. I've been called hot by biased girlfriends, and succinctly called "not hot" by girls who were just friends.

I think I fall mostly on the cute side of square.

In Korea, I can barely turn a corner without being called handsome by a gawking tour group.

Students pass me notes expounding on my handsomeness. I'm greeted by mothers in the Teacher's Room who take one look at my mug-shot-esque "alien registration" photo ID card and exclaim: "Oooooh! Very handsome. Sexy! Very sexy... sexy man!" (Granted, Koreans have a fairly slanted view of "sexy." As G knows, my boss once called his umbrella sexy...)

Today when I went to the Bashful Pig for my dinner, I was greeted by the ajummas as well as two gents (I think a man and his father) who were already about 3 soju bottles into it.

It was 6:20.

"Hi!" the (presumed) son greeted me tentatively.

"Hello," I replied.

"Where are you from?" he continued.


"Ooooooo! Canada! Ah... Van-cu-vah?"

"No... um... other-side... Nova Scotia. Atlantic Ocean."

"Ahhh, Atlanticu... you ahh... very handsome! Very handsome face!" and he proceeded to gingerly touch his face as if applying rouge of a shade to match his blood-shot eyes.

He looked over at his (presumed) father hoping for validation on the beauty of the foreigner. The old man grunted and poured another small glass of a red liquid which I assume had painted his son's eyeballs rouge.

Finding no encouragement in the old man, he held out the bottle to me.


"Thank you, but I have to work..."

"Drink?" he said again not seeming to follow.

"Uh... I have to go back to work... school? ah... teach children?" It seemed difficult to explain that I needed to be of sound mind to go back the classroom. These kids would have plenty of exposure to slurred English when they came to our country for university.

"Famerous Korean wine!" he pronounced, assuming it would seal the deal, and held the bottle aloft.

"I'm sorry, I can't," I said, trying my best to save face.

"No alcohol... no... just... drink. Drink!"

By this point he had already fetched an extra glass and slid over to my table. I could plainly see the 16% alcohol marking just under the "Traditional Korean Wine" label he was pointing at furiously.

He poured about a thimble full and offered it to me beseechingly.

It tasted like strawberries.

"Very nice!" I said honestly.

"Thank you... ah... sorry... ah... handsome," he managed before he slid (across the heated floor) back to his table and the reproachful gaze of his (presumed) father.

The moral of this unusual tale is that back in Canada, I never got a thin dime for looking good, but here in Korea, I've scored a thimble full of mysterious strawberry wine and the winsome looks of several million schoolgirls.

I am sexy like a plain white umbrella.


Pam said...

You're too sexy for your...umbrella!!

Shane said...

I don't know how beautiful or sexy I may be, but I know this much, when I take off my glasses for a split second in class all the students immediatly exclaim that I'm very handsome and sexy.
Then when I put my spectacles back on, I turn back into lame-o Clark Kent.
Sam, you will always be the beautiful hobbit.

Paul Kellogg said...

Make up your mind, Sam! Do you want to be sexy OR (not both, dear man) handsome? Your father is indeed handsome, your mother is sexy, and that leaves me as the white umbrella.