Friday I played in a city-wide doubles tennis tournament for high school teachers. School was out for the observance of Foundation Day. But no one I asked could explain to me what Foundation Day is. By the end of the day I'd learned that it has something to do with an ancient Korean kingdom, which is now located in China, that never really existed. I played terrible tennis and fell asleep in the grass.
After the match, we got drunk at a fried chicken restaurant. Then, when I thought we were going home, they brought me to a sushi restaurant where we ate again and drank soju mixed with sake. There's this strange drinking custom in Korea - when you finish your glass of beer or soju, you always hand your empty glass to someone and fill it for the person. So everyone ends up drinking after eachother. And, not coincedentally, Koreans are prone to getting herpes sores on their mouths. After we ate sushi and got drunker, the teachers said they wanted big shrimp, so we had another meal at an outdoor restaurant where they brought us a bowl of live shrimp and a bowl of various types of muscles which we cooked ourselves over an open grill. We sat in red and blue plastic lawn chairs. There was a bowl of silk worm cocoons that we passed around while everything cooked. They were surprisingly good. The vice principal says they're good for stamina. It seems like every food here has some sort of healing quality associated with it; soy bean soup is good for longevity, fish soup and pork soup are good for hangovers. We ate and drank soju until one of the teachers stood up and threw his red plastic chair. Later that night, I woke up so hungover that I thought I was dying.
They guy sitting next to me is Mr. Nah. He's a freshman English teacher but he speaks very little English. A few weeks ago, when he took me to play tennis, he started talking to himself in Korean as he tried to put new grip on a racquet. As he got more frustrated, he started repeating "sillyputty..." He continued talking to himself afterwards. Even at dinner. I don't know if this is completely abnormal, but it makes me really uncomfortable. The guy sitting behind Mr. Nah is the one who threw the chair Friday night. He's tiny and sometimes he wears shorts that come down to his ankles and if you don't look closely you think that his legs are cut off at the knee.