14 September 2007

Cultural Faux Pas

Yesterday was a bit more stressful than a Friday ought to be, and when classes were over I was more than happy to be out of the place. I rode down in the elevator with Amy, who’s only been here for a few weeks. We discovered that neither of us had plans for the evening and decided to go see if there were any movies showing in English at the CGV.

It was pouring rain, so we took a cab home to change into some more weather-suitable clothing and then walked the two blocks to the theater. While walking we talked about cultural faux pas and the rose-flavored gum a young man had given me in the elevator.

"Is it good?" "Yeah, it is, but I have know way of knowing how accurate the rose flavor is, since I’m not sure what they taste like." "Does it taste the way they smell?" "Sort of, I guess."

"Have you noticed that no-one here eats while they’re walking down the street?" "Yeah, today I was eating a muffin on the way to work and I felt like everyone was staring at me. Of course, I always feel like that here, and maybe they just wanted to know what the big white girl eats for breakfast."

And so on for two blocks, up the elevator to the fifth floor, and perched on a bench waiting for our number to be called so we could buy our tickets for Born Ultimatum.

Neither of us had eaten dinner, so we hit the concession stand for hotdogs, soda, and substandard caramel corn. The concessionaire balanced our food in sturdy plastic trays for us, and we proceeded into the theater to hunt down our seat assignments.

The movie was entertaining enough, neither of us was expecting a great cinematic achievement, but there were some shocking car crashes.

At one point I lifted my soda out of the tray, which threw the entire set-up off balance, tipping it away from me and pouring all of my popcorn onto my shoes and down the back of the girl sitting in front of me. I tried to quietly apologize in my broken Korean, but I’m not sure how much was coherent. Amy couldn’t stop laughing loudly and drew the stars of everyone surrounding us.

I wonder, is it a cultural faux pas to simultaneously up-end your food onto a stranger and distract an entire audience from a key scene in an action flick?

The upside to the whole thing: It was still raining after the movie and when I opened my umbrella it showered a confetti-like rain of caramel corn on me. I felt like it was my birthday. Amy laughed some more.

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