Baseball, Boners and Mid Term Exams
Even though I’ve been in the busiest bathhouses, this weekend really wasn’t enjoyable. For many students, the midterm exams are over but for others another week of cramming into the early hours of the morning can be expected. Migwang wasn’t the busiest I’ve known it but it was certainly the nosiest. Samsung Lions, the Daegu home team were playing one of the first games of the season and a small crowd of men and boys sat in pool nearest the large television. Naturally, there was an air of excited anticipation frequently vented by loud cheers or despondent sighs and as usual, it was friendly and relaxed rather as one might expect with English cricket or tennis and nothing like the revolting displays of tribal machoism associated with British football.
My favourite pool is probably the cold pool (냉탕), even in winter and unless it’s the peak of summer, it’s usually the quietest; today however, it was packed, ‘packed’ meaning about 12 occupants. Unfortunately, they were mostly older students intent on messing about. With my elbows resting on the pool ledge, I was constantly splashed and on two occasions had to ask boys to move away. And for the first time ever, the choppiness of the water annoyed me as there was a wave that regularly lifted my knees off the pool floor. Then there was the noise! Yes, I tried to console myself that they had probably finished exams and were letting off steam but it I really wanted to relax.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen boners in the bathhouse but today three boys had them and what was funny was they didn’t even try to hide them. If I got one I’d have to hide myself in the water, preferably cold, until safe to come out but they weren’t the least embarrassed.
My relaxation was interrupted on numerous occasions first by a teenage boy who was sat with his father and wanted to talk. I tried to chat to his dad but he wasn’t in the least interested. Then a boy of nine introduced himself to me and shook my hand. His name was Pete and his dialogue consisted of; ‘Hello, my name is Pete, Nice to meet you. How is your family?’ After this he started firing random words, ‘notebook,’ ‘desk,’ etc. Eventually, he got bored and disappeared but not before four other boys, all aged around 13, began asking where I was from and if I liked Manchester United. Then I had to arm wrestle each of them in turn during which they scrutinised the hair on my arms. One actually started tweaking some hairs on my back. And of course, as this is happening all the occupants of the pools around me are staring though it is not in the least unfriendly. I was subsequently rescued by a friend whose wife owns a coffee shop. Whilst we were talking I noticed another foreigner and we acknowledged each other. He sat the pool opposite me but left very quickly. Usually the bathhouse numbers dwindle after 6 pm but today it simply got busier and even by 9 pm it was still crowded.
© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.