Monday, May 04, 2009

At the Movies

The Irish called me up in the middle of the afternoon. Alas I was in class so I sent him to voice mail and phoned on my dying battery when I was free to see what was up.

“Want to go to a movie?”


“Guy I was supposed to go with backed out.”

“Where and when you want to meet?”

Happiness I returned to class and teaching for the rest of the day a little excited that now I was going to get to see Wolverine. The details I had were sparse but some sort of special screening deal. The ticket were a birthday present and I had no problems whatsoever with being back-up company to see the flick.

We met up downtown around seven and walked over to the theater. Standing in line with this special tickets as we got closer to the booth the young lady started yelling garbled things in to the microphone at us. We were at least two spots back from whoever was buying so at first we didn't realize she was talking to us. “Gukbon, gukbon.” I kept staring at her. I know what those words mean but they don't make any sense. Finally I get to the window and she, exasperated by our silly waygookness, looks at us and says, “Gukbon. Nine floor go.” Ah, okay, I translate unnecessarily but force of habit that she wants us just to go up to the ninth floor. Apparently the tickets are for some sort of special VIP show. Granted had either of us managed to figure that out we could have saved ourselves five minutes of waiting. We hit an elevator and headed up to the appropriate area where popcorn was acquired.

The Irish was pulled away by a friendly Korean chap for chatting and finally returned to say that this was someone for whom he had been on occasion hired to do magic tricks for. The long conversation included questions about whether or not the Irish would be performing. I suppose this should have struck one of us as odd but being run into by people who know me and ask me if I'm presenting is common enough that I just let it pass. I sat and guarded popcorn while the tickets were exchanged for actual seats to the movie. Afterwards we watched as people piled in and lined up and gossiped mercilessly about our jobs.

Finally people stopped lining up and stared filing in so we joined the crowd and headed down to the most perfect seats one can hope to get. Center theater, not to close and not to far from the screen. Yee and Ha.

“Good seats.” I said.

“Yep. I got to pick them.” Obviously I'm not the only person out tonight who knows how to watch a movie. Finally we get all settled and the theater keeps filling in. Movie time comes and goes and I'm thinking now would be a nice time for previews. But instead a microphone is front and center and the Koreans who were checking tickets and asking about magic shows are now down front and starting announcements. My Korean, mixed with the small amount of English they were tossing about, was enough to help figure out that what was about to happen was some kind of gift give away. Tickets were would be called and used as raffle numbers and the prizes included dinner vouchers, a nintendo Wii and other odd things.

The Koreans, of course, start oohing and aahhing and clapping. I'm given the responsibility of listening for the numbers of our tickets since I'm the one who knows Korean numbers well enough to figure that out.

“I'm not going to win. I never win anything.”

“Could happen.” I say back to the Irish.

“Nah, I should win, it's my birthday. But I won't.”

I start to listen for numbers and watch the crowd. The Koreans are amusing, all sitting on the edge of their seats. The announcer says the row number and everyone in the row starts to squeal and jump forward until he follows with the number. Listening to the letters was a fair about of amusing as I found it more difficult to figure out the difference between G and J then the numbers he was saying. At one point a gentleman runs down the isle and a quick conversation in Korean occurs.

“I won but I wasn't here.”

“Yes, you won, but sorry sir, you were not here, we gave your prize away to someone else.”

“But I won.”

“Yes, but you were not here, I'm sorry.”

Brandishing ticket. “I won.”

Quick discussion results in given the absent winner one of whatever it is they were handing out at that point, I think it was a gift certificate for dinner. He takes his prize and smugly wanders but up the stairs. Ah Korea, I think, even when you lose you win anyway. Prizes continued to go out which included a free night in one of the nicer hotels downtown, a cell phone, the Wii, dinner tickets, and some vouchers for odds and ends. Turns out the whole thing was sponsored by the hotel and a cable service. While gentlemen who was not present managed to get some kind of prize no one complained when the Korean chick in my row got her number called twice. I noticed it so surely someone else did, but who am I to complain. Finally the signs came down the show excited stage left and the movie was able to begin only about a half hour after it was supposed to have started. VIP somehow translates here as annoying pre-game show.

I lean over to the Irish to get in some last words before being condemned to the special hell.

“I would have preferred previews.”

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