[mind your head]

Just little scenes.

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Friday, June 8, 2007


Eddie is a large man, thick in the middle and neckless, with close-cropped hair he clippers himself (though he pretends to me that he has it cut by the barber at the end of his block) and a tendency to go florid whenever seized by anger, laughter or a long flight of stairs. He would be a big man anywhere in the world, but here in Korea, he's fucking huge. And I like that. Eddie likes to say that merchants in clothing stores panic when they see him coming, crossing their arms in front of their faces to make big X'es and crying out, "Size-uh no!" He also claims to have been kept out of an all-you-can-eat sushi bar back home in Aukland: the proprietors would take one look at his formidable girth and declare the establishment closed, and never mind all the customers inside.

Whether either of these stories is true is beside the point. I haven't ever seen the size-no thing happen. But the point is that Eddie is big, which is why I enjoy following closely behind him as we traverse the more densely populated streets in Seoul. He's especially good in getting around that corner where Jongno meets Insadong, where the crowds are hemmed in by jewelry shops on one side and carts selling stuffed animals and handphone cozies and noxious-smelling street food on the other. If Seoul were a brain and it's streets were arteries, this is where the stroke would happen. I know I've come close enough to a stroke just trying to get through to from one side to the other.

Behind Eddie, though, I am shielded. I press myself against him as he moves forward slowly, deliberately, as people catch sight of him, their faces always angled up, freeze for a moment in panic, then plunge to one side or the other. And I drift merrily along in his wake, reveling in the bubble of space he creates for me. It creates in me an animal love for him, and I always feel randy and charged up when we've cut through a crowd like that, or like the crowds outside Doota when we go shopping for clothes (for me — he can only buy clothes in loathesome Itaewon, where he ends up with ridiculous hip-hop gear intended for black American soldiers).

And so we round the corner, and I am safe against great big gentle Eddie — the giant who plays so sweetly with the little kids at the school, who dotes on our puppy, and whose mass instills fear and wonder in the people of Seoul.


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