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

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In which Sam-Sam meets drunkenman and becomes the wall

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOhello!" said the red-eyed man as he saddled up beside me in the subway station.

"Hello," I said.

"Where are you from?" he asked, making himself comfortable against the same wall I was leaning on. He was shorter than me by at least 4 inches. He was probably 50, but definitely wore a golf shirt. His eyes were really much redder than when I just said "red" that one time in the first sentence.

"I'm from Canada," I told him.

"Waaah! Canada," he said dazzled, his eyes bulged quite amphibian. "Quebec?"


"Ahhh, Toronto then!"

"No. By the sea."

"Canada is a verrrrry beautiful country, a very green country, forests are the best, Canada has the best forests in the world, Canada is great!" His words all ran together like Lego bricks stacking up a precarious stairway to nowhere.

"Canada is very beautiful, " I agreed.

"What is your name?" he asked.


"Sam, you have a very beautiful name."

"Thank you."

"I am drunkenman."

"Pleased to meet you drunkenman," I said.

"Have a wonderful visit," he said in what would commonly be considered the end of a conversation, but he continued, pulling an incredibly wrinkled 1000 won bill out of his pocket with mysticism that was entirely uncalled for.

"This is Korean money," he announced.

"I know."

He tried to force the bill into my hand, but I refused adamantly.

"No, thank you."

"Please! yesyesyes."

"No, really. I have my own Korean money," I insisted.

"Sam, you are a careerman?" he asked.

"No I'm a teacher. An English teacher."

He cast his eyes off to the speeding trains.

"Once upon a time I was an English teacher," he said, leaving the thought hanging vaguely in the air.

I was going to ask him about his life as a teacher, when he suddenly started to chuckle to himself and began rubbing his forearm against mine, obviously amused at being tickled by my arm hair.

Suddenly, drunkenman spread his arms out and leaned back flat. He looked over at me and leaned in close as if to tell a secret.

"We are the wall," he told me and raised both his eyebrows.

"We are the wall," I agreed.

It was 4:00 in the afternoon.


Pam said...

Better than being a window !!

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

I just got home from Seoul and had a little bek-se-ju myself. Great story, it made me smile and borderline laugh. I love the way you write. Are you still leaving Korea in December?

Sam said...

September actually. 21 days to be precise.

Anonymous said...

Can I be the wall too? That would make my day.

Yoo-yong said...

clearly it was a pink flyod reference
perhaps you should start to leave those kids alone

Ian said...

Great post :)