Rebels Together


Young-a wears jeans to school, comfortable shoes, and sneaks us up to the roof to smoke.  She was very active in the student protests of the 80’s and she says college was a sad time for her, because of the violence and crack-down.  She is the most open-minded person I’ve yet met here.  Her favorite teacher is the history teacher – he’s this funny little guy about sixty with a paunch and a comb-over, who’s nick-name is Eating Machine.  The fact that she likes him best makes me like her best.  She also attends my classes just because she likes to hear what I am teaching the students about American culture (counter-culture!)  She asked me for a history book about America, so I told her to get Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and the very next day she was the proud owner of the book IN CARTOON..IN HANGUL!  Very cool.

She’s asked me out several times, but each time it has become some group thing, some extravagant thing, where someone, only one, leaves with a huge hole in their pocketbook.  I don’t know if this is because she organized this and cajoled the others into coming or what, but that’s what has happened.  Friday I just wanted to hang out with her, get a cheap side dish and a bottle of soju.   I think I caught her by surprise at the last minute, so she didn’t have time to call the others to join.  “You mean, just me?”  yes. oh god. yes. please just you.  So she called home and told her family she’d be coming home late, left her car at the school, and we walked to my holy grail of soju with a friend.  She went and ordered some fish.  I thought it was a “set” of fish and alcohol.  But actually, it was sashimi for 30,000 won.  Jesus.  I could see she was doing the extravagant thing again and was going to be in glorious financial pain for it.  So I insisted that we go dutch.  (even though even that is glorious financial pain for me)  She wasn’t even sure that was possible – and she was absolutely amazed when the waitor was able to split the bill in half with two different check cards.  It was wonderful – we talked for hours about all manner of American and Korean culture, politics, and growing up experiences.  We downed two bottles of soju and I walked her to her bus stop.  I think I have a friend in Young-a.  I had a hangover the next morning, but it was well worth it.

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