Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Dating Game

The young Koreans I have observed in night clubs and at bars have a curious way of flirting with one another. The subtle game of attraction is more of a boxing match than a waltz here. Like peacocks the males decorate themselves in bright colors and sparkling jewels that hook the eye like a fisherman’s bait. Once, the female has noticed the male and smiled and tucked her oval chin to her shoulder and covered it with her hand, the male moves in. He charges at her, while trying to keep his face drawn and vacant as a cow’s. They slide and wiggle their way through the crowded, darkened bar, or rush through the jolting rail cars of traffic nearly missing a taxi’s bumper, and corner their intended love.
                With eyes locked and lips moistened the negotiation, or interrogation, begins. The man usually starts, Korean women play the role of innocent girl well. Their lines are chosen carefully and reflect the nature of the culture, the proper tone and word choice that will appeal to any woman in this country.
                “I am dressed nice, you are dressed nice,” the man begins with a strong opening line.
                “You are handsome and I am pretty,” the woman confirms.
                “We should dance, and I will grab you by the waist and jerk you around but you will smile and place your hands over your mouth as if you were still a virgin,” these lines would put Casanova to shame.
                After ordering two shots of Soju and drinking half a beer each, they stumble onto the dance floor. They grind and gyrate, and after twenty minutes they begin talking about important matters of the heart.
                “Do you make a lot of money?” the woman asks. She pulls away locking her elbows and pressing her palms to his chest to protect herself if he is a lowly peasant.
                “I make a lot of money,” the man smiles. They embrace, happy they have crossed the first hurdle as a young couple.
                “Are you young?” the man asks and bites his lip, turning his chin away, afraid this woman was a liar and untrustworthy for passing herself as a youthful possible mate.
                “I am young,” the woman smiles moving in close.
                They push through the throngs of people, and he clutches her close to avoid the tough talk and inappropriate gestures of the nerdy Americans that may try to steal her. When they are safely alone they begin planning their future, with schools picked out and careers planned for their young-someday children, they are certain everyone will say what a fine match they are.
                And, someday soon, they will walk down the street by the largest mall in their city, pushing a baby stroller, and talking about all the things they’re going to buy. There’s no point in being the perfect, ostensible Korean couple if people cannot see that you are fashionable and wealthy.

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