A slightly risque and humorous story of how I introduced Korean women to hot dogs.
|July is the National Hot Dog Month, and according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume about 155 million of them on the 4th. Which, naturally, gets me thinking about a story now well known and shared often in my family, with a few added details.
Living in Incheon, South Korea and working at a private ESL school, I became an accidental ambassador of the American hot dog, an introducer of long red tubes of meat to young Korean women, and this is how it happened:
One morning before class a Korean counterpart named Jane, a tall, long-limbed, flirtatious Korean woman, asked me When can me and May come over for hot dogs? Kay, another Korean teacher piped up I want to come too!
I had been exploring Korean food and now they wanted to try the world-renowned American hot dog.
Yeah, Jane continued, the three of us want to come over and have hot dogs. When can we come over?
I laughed nervously, thinking they weren't quite serious. Uh, anytime, I said. Sure. One of these weekends you all can come over and we'll have American-style hot dog.
Okay, we’ll be over soon. Don't you forget.
They didn't let me forget. Weeks passed with almost daily reminders about our vague plans. When might it happen? This weekend, next weekend, in two weeks? In the meantime, as a hormone fueled, virile young man, my imagination ran wild, went overboard head first, and had me ruining bed sheets. The scene in my head built over time into grand castles in the sky.
Laying in bed at night I pictured it all so clearly. First, I’d buffet them with ketchup and mustard and horseradish slathered hot dogs to their heart's content. From there, without saying a word, I’d motion with a nod of the head to the open bedroom door, as if to ask, well, how ‘bout it? Wanna try this American hot dog?
Slinking quickly to my room to undress, I’d be surrounded on each side by hot, salivating Korean babes with a stockpile of unused condoms (strangely provided by the school) in arm’s reach in a drawer in the bed’s headboard. And then after undressing them….wait, Wait! WAIT!!! Stop the picture and pull up your boxers. I have a conscience man. I have a fiancée back in Romania.
I could put these hot dog demanding women off no longer, and so a date for dinner was fixed for after work of the upcoming Friday.
On Thursday I walked down the street to the local giant discount chain store called Lotte Mart, one of the reasons Wal-Mart failed miserably in Korea. They have everything, including hot dogs.
Except for hot dog buns. I wandered the aisles aimlessly, tirelessly, desperately, all in vain. There were no hot dog buns to found in this awful world, and asking only got me confused shrugs. How the fuck are you supposed to have hot dogs without the buns?!
My frustration was at a peak when I stumbled upon what resembled buns in the confectionery section. They were to be eaten like donuts, as a dessert, but they didn’t look so sweet or fried. It was a make or break gamble, a necessary gambit, and I hurried home in the growing darkness with four bags of sweet buns and high hopes.
In my kitchen I opened up a bag to inspect their potential as wiener receptacles. They split open just like hot dog buns but inside was a sweet yellow cream. Easy enough to take care of. Diligently scrape it all out and my guests will be none the wiser. Hey, as a world traveler you gotta be adaptable, to make do with what you’ve got. Romania helped teach me that.
All was prepared. Friday arrived with sunny, warm weather and a cool breeze that cleansed the air. I remember well as we walked from the school to my apartment. The four of us, me, May, Jane, and Kay, skipped passed the pizza shop, a movie rental store where Jane dropped a risqué (for Korean women) comment about renting a porno, and towering white apartment complexes.
Jane and Kay were constant flirts in different ways. Jane was more direct. During a break between classes one day as we sat opposite each other at our desks I asked her: “Jane, what qualities do you look for in a man?” She thought for a second before answering point blank: “You. A man like you.” I was speechless and didn’t know how to reply. Kay’s methods were more subtle and done less consciously. She’d toss her hair, touch me on the arm, laugh excessively at my bad jokes. May, on the other hand, was a shy woman, a virgin as I was told, that kept mostly to herself.
Around my small kitchen table they sat in wait and constant chatter as I cooked the hot dogs in a frying pan on the gas burner. A variety of condiments were spread out on the cluttered table.
Placing the plate of burned dogs down in front of my audience I bowed at the raucous applause, and after explaining the different ways of putting them together, depending on tastes, we prepared our buns.
The hot dogs were, well, crunchy. They appeared to have a thick skin not of the intestinal lining quality you often find, and unlike I’d seen before in the states. You really had to gnash your teeth to rip through it. We each had two dogs gulped down before May made the discovery.
That wasn’t skin we were chewing through.
Each hot dog was closely encased in a thin plastic sheath nearly impossible to discern, and in my excitement I hadn’t noticed the slight smell of burned plastic as they cooked. We had eaten melted plastic.
Never have I heard three women laugh so hard.