So Friday night was my principal's retirement dinner. We all filed out of the school promptly at 4:30. A trail of ridiculous driving Korean teachers made their way to a 4 story "gogi" (meat) palace in Pyeoncheon. We all took our places sitting Indian style at the long short tables. The ex-foreign teacher Ryan joined us. He's Canadian but good times. Against Korean norms Ryan chose to sit next to me at the women's table. My fellow teachers giggled as he took a seat next to me. " Just a word of warning... go easy on the Soju , stick with the Cola or they will get you drunk off your ass" he said " thanks for the warning"I nudged him and poured myself a glass of cola. . As the principal and vice-principal arrived we bowed and the feasting began. With the numerous sides dishes placed before me I thought if I would even have room for noodles or rice later. Galbi was on the menu tonight! As the waitresses brought out slabs of meat for our grills and the garlic and meat hit the grill my mouth began to water. Minutes later we dug in. Chopsticks moving swiftly and balls of lettuce being stuffed in mouths mumbling. Faint conversation was heard over mouths jam packed with galbi deliciousness. Because as I mentioned before it is not rude to shovel food into your mouth while continuing a whole conversation in Korean culture. A few teachers are being transferred to other schools and so Koreans make it their business to get their departing co-workers sauced up. So the Mr. Jo, Ms. Kim, Mrs.Oh and the principal were poured shot after shot by coworkers. Then as I was munching on the mass of goodness in my mouth I heard " Tippani teachuh... soju?" I turned around and it's Mr Park with a bottle of Soju and a shot glass. He sat down next to me poured me a drink.. I tossed it back like a champ . He said "apo!" I repeated after him " apo!" then as Korean custom dictates I poured a drink from the same glass for my elder. I smile he says " Okay! Thank you!" " You're welcome " I said. I didn't even know he knew any English. I turned back to my table and continued my meal. I thought I was out of the woods.. not quite. Unknowingly I opened Pandora's box. Co-worker after co-worker offered a shot to me and I offered one in return. In the mean time more meat was put on our grills and more bottles of Soju were placed on the table. Just when you thought the eating and drinking was over fresh bottles of Soju were put on the table, the side dishes were refreshed and more meat was put on the grill.After three hours of eating, drinking and hearing speeches, dinner was winding down. Drunken laughter was in the air and most of my co-workers had turned an interesting shade of pink. We smiled. I spoke my "best " Korean for them as they battled through English for me. As we were about to get up from the table Mr. Park comes over and says " Tippany we go to Hof.. now... you come!" My principal comes over to me rattling a a paragraph of Korean I couldn't even begin to understand....Ms. Kim kindly translated "He said Korean dinner is 3 parts, this was the 1st... now we got to second, it is your duty to come drink, and the 3rd part you can come or not, you choose.. Okay?" Wait I knew I was a little drunk but it's my duty to go get drunk with my principal...Asaaaa! Just another reason I love Korea. Then we grabbed our coats, put on our shoes and headed for the " Hof" (Bar). I helped a couple of my stumbling co-workers down the street to the bar as we laughed. We got to the bar, got comfortable and my principal said in English " You are good teacher! I like you" and smiled as he poured me a huge frosty mug of beer. Those of you who know me.. know I hate beer, but after so many bottles of Soju and not wanting to be rude to my principal I accepted, clinked mugs with him and the VP and took a sip of my beer. An hour later, a couple unwanted mugs chugged, after a sing a-long and a few games of Rock, paper, scissors with co-workers I had had my fill. I said thank you to my principal and VP and goodbye to my coworkers. Drunken and full Ryan and I hopped into a cab I and made our way to Anyang Station. As I walked in the door Kate said " Eeewww Agishi you smell rank!" I smelled of soju and kimchi, which I couldn't smell Apparently after brushing my teeth and changing my clothes I still smelled It was emanating from my pores. My apartment smelled of a Korean subway on a Thursday night.. I had become my worst nightmare. A drunken agishi.! I've definitely gone native.
Confucius say: kimchi and soju are good in theory but when mixed together the ladies do not come near me