Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Eat. Play. Teach. Blog entry #10: Getting wet by Georgina Selander

Getting Wet by Georgina Selander

We all know that movie scene. It goes something like this:

a)     A shaggy-haired teenager hops over the neighbour’s fence to visit his girlfriend and….
b)    A dumb robber (think Home Alone) attempts a stealthy break-in and….

…out dashes a snapping yap-dog – breaking the silence and incriminating the intruder.


Last Sunday, after spending most of the day in bed, I decided it was time to venture outside. It so happens that the highlight of social entertainment in my town boils down to a few cramped bars and a handful of supermarkets. Being a Sunday, my boozing options were limited – so shopping it was!

So off I went, trekking up the hill, over the intersection, past the elementary school and towards the local GS25 supermarket.

Being the highpoint of the day’s enjoyment, I wanted to take my time – spend a leisurely hour or so roaming the aisles, consulting ramyeon packets, trying to decipher the Korean wording on packages, or pretending to be planning a recipe for a well-to-do husband waiting at home.

No such luck. Korean store attendants have a habit of following you around – a most overly helpful habit. (Beauty stores are a nightmare when you just want to try on all the free samples and a teller follows your every move. In these cases, I end up feeling obliged to buy something useless and cheap that I don’t really want – like a tacky lip icekey chain.).

Fish counter
The first interesting sight – a repeat source of amusement in these instances – was the fish counter. If you can get over the smell and the eyeballs, there’s always an interesting creature or two. A common sight is live octopus (eating squirmy raw octopus is in fact a Korean delicacy). There are usually also some phallic-looking sea cucumbers or an aquarium of crabs. 
On this particular trip I discovered a group of squids, bobbing up and down in the cold water. I watched them for ages, until my front-row seat was taken over by an equally interested 4-year old.

Next stop: the meat counter. I’ve recently located chicken breasts in Korean supermarkets – a versatile ingredient to have in the fridge (and a regular meal back home). Just moments after locating said chicken, a handsome Korean man strolls over.

“Can I help you? What are you looking to buy?”

Considering there are only whole chickens, breasts and beef strips on the shelf, this conversation is really unnecessary.

“Umm I just want to make something for dinner…Maybe bulgogi?” I reply.

I spy another glance. He really is very handsome. Why of all possible days, was today the day I decided to venture out sans make-up and sans bra. I suck my stomach in a little.

“For how many?” he enquires.

“Two,” I respond.

What a joke. It’s literally just me. Eating for two. Again.

“This should be enough then,” he says, lifting up a packet of beef strips.

I had no intention of buying this. I lower it into my basket with a cheesy grin. I linger a second longer.

“Are you American,” he asks? (This is such a common question here you’d think white people only lived in the big ol' US of A).

“No, I’m from South Africa,” I reply.

“Oh okay! I was in Chicago last year!”


“Umm cool…”

He looks at me like I should mention something about the place– like my favourite Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurant (poef). All I can think of is a Sopranos accent. And I’m pretty sure that’s not even right. I take it as my cue to leave, wondering if I should circle aisle 7 until I can safely put the meat back.
Anyway, as most shopping trips go – where I plan to buy just one or two ingredients to complement my household supplies – I come back with 400 000 won worth of goodies.  Including the meat I didn’t want.

Laden with two overflowing shopping bags, I decide to explore the other side of town and take a detour home.

15 minutes in, I realise I’m walking through a residential area and the usual landmarks are nowhere in sight.

Realising I should double back and head towards more familiar surroundings, I take a narrow lane in the direction of the supermarket.

Cursing the ghastly humidity, I carry on. It starts to rain. Soon I am drenched in both rain and sweat. 

As I round the corner, a prophetic sign rushes towards me in the form of two stricken teenage boys. They duck into an alley. I quickly see why they are running – a golden-haired yap-dog is speeding towards me, teeth gnashing and nails clipping the tarmac.

I turn on my heels and run. My two shopping bags bob awkwardly at my sides.

When the sound of the tiny yapper dies away, I drop my bags of sodden groceries and laugh. Who cares if I get wet?

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