Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lonely Hearts Club

Wednesday night is blues night, or at least it is live music night and I wanted live music. I wanted to be a part of something for a change, instead of holed up in my apartment. So I went out, walked down to the Lonely Hearts Club. The bar girl, Gun, was all smiles for me and hugs and polite kisses. She pours me a tequila and I sit with my book and my smokes to wait for the music. The music might start in an hour, maybe two. I will have to go home long before it gets intense. The smoky singers with their guitars and the reverberating base tones that stir my soul into my toes. I will have to leave long before that, but I come early anyway. I will have a few drinks, and chat up Gun, and read, and enjoy myself, I think. Quiet night in the bar, a little live music, and then to home.

But there are two new expats in the bar. I haven't seen them before. As Gun fetches my drink they ask incredulous who is drinking tequila, and I smile and try to sink into my book and disappear because I would prefer that to a drunk chat with two strange men. I do manage to successfully avoid their notice for a few more minutes, but I can make out from the whispered discussion that one is encouraging the other to come talk to me. The younger one, of course, encouraging the older one. I'm bored already, but I wait for it.

He finally comes over with a "Where are you from?"

I say "Chicago."

"What part of town, I'm from Boys Town."

I admit, this peeked my curiosity. This pulled me in and had my slightly interested in strange strung out man in the bar. His hair is greasy and he looks like Iggy Pop only with clothes on (why is it whenever I think of Iggy Pop I always imagine him half naked in leather pants. I just can't imagine him with a shirt on, and I've tried). Iggy starts to chat me up, "Smart bar/metro." He says and breaks into a conversation in Spanish, French, with a little Russian thrown in. I turn to Gun and ask her in Korean "Yognun, waygook namja, minchina?"

She smiles and says "It's his first time. Molageseyeyo." Well, there is that I think.

I turn back and smile. He asks me how I learned Korean.

"Listening, mostly. I just listen. I sit back and take it all in. Easiest way to learn anything."

"How long have you been here?"

"Six years in May." And I think, that's true. It's been almost six years since I moved to Korea and I'm still here. I never thought I would make it past two and now six years later I am sitting in a bar on a school night drinking tequila and talking to strangers while I smoke clove cigarettes and listen to the Veils. Six years.

"I'm not gay, you know." He says. I smile. I know exactly why he is saying it, but it amused me anyway. I never thought for a second that he was, even though he lived in Boys Town. I smile at him.

"You said Smart Bar Metro, not Crowbar," I figured you weren't.

"I'm a junkie," he says.

"Ah." I say.

"I was a junkie. I'm in Korea now. I figure I've got my life on track, I'm 45, everyone here likes me, I just finished a methadone program in Portland. Can you help me in Korea? What's your number?" Iggy continues to babble on at me. At some point I gave up trying to interject in the conversation and just listened. He wanted to spill, he wanted a confessional, an ear. I think he also wanted a girlfriend, but I wasn't paying that much attention. He buys me a drink, my phone rings and I leave in a hurry to talk to a friend.

"What are you doing?" asks my friend.

"Getting pissed," I say.

"Already?"

"Yep."

"What happened?"

"Just felt the need."

We talk for a few more minutes and make arrangements. I hope for a visit this weekend, some entertainment of the slightly less depressing variety.

I walk back and Iggy politely says goodbye. "I'm a southern gentleman, I'm from Arkansas, I'm not doing to badly for forty five, I've got it together. It was nice to meet you, can you advise me about sex in Korea?"

The guitarist kicks up a few notes on the red guitar and starts to play ending all conversation abruptly in the bar. I sit to enjoy my drink. Gun smiles at me. "Kinchaneyeo?" she asks me. "Ney, ney, munjay opseyo." I say.

The guitarist plays Hendrix, and Radiohead, and Nirvana, and all manner things. I listen, I smile, I loose myself in the music and the bass drumming of his voice. I request a song.

"I have to go in ten minutes," I say.

"So do I," he says.

Ah, the military musician who can't play for long. Mores the pity. I leave before his set is finished, tequila warming my ears and live music buzzing in my belly.

I walk home from the Lonely Hearts Club.

Six years.

1 comment:

eolake said...

Huh.