The first time I explored Pusan was with my old friend Bob Horne. Bob was very excited because the city boasted a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant. Don’t bother looking for it now. For some reason, the franchise never succeeded in South Korea.
He purchased a triple-stack cheeseburger and a large order of fries. The man was in heaven. He devoured that entire meal in less than five minutes. The poor burger never stood a chance. Then he washed it all down with a large glass of Coca-Cola.
I said, “So what’s on the agenda?”
“What were you thinking?”
“Well, Lonely Planet mentions a place called Texas Street.”
“And why is Texas Street popular?”
“It’s got lots of juicy bars.”
“They double as whorehouses. A girl sits next to you and asks you to buy her a drink. And then she orders an overpriced glass of juice.”
“How does this pertain to sex?”
“Supposedly, it opens up a pathway to negotiations.”
Bob nodded and rubbed his auburn goatee. “That’s interesting. Let’s do it.”
We hailed a taxi, and it turned out that the cabbie spoke pretty good English. He struck up a conversation as he drove.
“Kolean man not rike when foreigna touch our woman.”
Bob said, “What?”
“You go Texas, yes?”
Bob said, “That’s right.”
“Why you go Texas?”
Bob said, “To drink and have fun.”
“Dat not tlue. You go to have da sex. With Kolean woman. Kolean man not rike it. White man meant for da white woman. And Kolean man meant for da Kolean woman.”
I laughed out loud. “The guy’s a racist.”
“I not lacist. It tlue. Army come and stain da woman. It not good.”
I said, “Not to worry. Me and my friend are just a couple of poor English teachers. I doubt if we brought enough money to pay for sex.”
The cabbie smiled. He seemed relieved.
We didn’t go to a bar right away. There were plenty of stalls on the street which served food and alcohol. So we sat outside and drank a few beers. I remember hearing the song Peace Train by Cat Stevens coming from one of the taverns.
I said, “Wow, this place sure beats Daejeon. I wish we could have gotten a gig near this part of town.”
Bob said, “You’ve been here for less than twenty-four hours. Pusan might suck for all that you know.”
A dusky guy took a seat near our table. His hair was dark and oily, and his skin was the color of sand. He ordered a glass of whiskey.
Bob said, “Hello, my name is Bob. I’m American. Where are you from?”
He sneered at us. “Why you Americans always so curious? Where I from none of your business.”
Bob said, “I was just trying to be friendly.”
“Fuck you. I not want your friendship. Asshole.”
He got up and walked away.
I said, “Man, what’s up with him?”
Fifteen minutes later, we were approached by two chubby Caucasian girls in their early twenties. These ladies weren’t obese. Rather, they both possessed an attractive layer of baby fat which made them jiggle as they moved. I guess you could say that they were built for comfort as opposed to speed.
“I’m Megan and this is my friend Christie. Do you live in Pusan?”
I said, “No, we’re from Daejeon. We’re just visiting.”
Megan smiled. “We’re from Daejeon, too. We go back tomorrow morning.”
I said, “Same here.”
Christie said, “Are you English teachers like us?”
Bob nodded. “We live near a fur shop called Jindo Mopee. Our boss has us set up in an office building.”
Christie said, “That’s interesting. So why did you both decide to travel to Pusan?”
I said, “We plan to visit a brothel.”
Their jaws dropped to their knees, and there was a moment of uncomfortable silence.
Megan said, “You’re joking, right?”
I said, “No. I’m deadly serious. Soon, I’ll be in one of these whorehouses enjoying myself.”
Needless to say, they quickly decided that it was time to go. We never saw them again.
Bob said, “You really fucked up. Megan seemed to like you, and she was actually very hot.”
“Like me? How do you figure?”
“She was undressing you with her eyes. I could tell.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Easy come, easy go. Besides, I’m pretty excited about fornicating with a Korean chick. White women are strictly off the menu.”