Tag: mike

Canadian pride in unlikely places

Canadian pride in unlikely places

“You’re not going to waste those on the kids are you?” Shauna says at school on Canada Day. Looking at the stack of temporary tattoos on my desk, I shrug. I was going to use them as rewards in my classes today, but I have ‘Canada’ pencils, too.

My students are always much more excited about Canada stuff than I am. They know about “ice” hockey, and that we have lots of snow, and that Kim Yuna’s coach is Canadian.

Shauna’s also more excited than me about our shared homeland, so I decide that if it’s important to her, I’ll save the tattoos. I stuff them in my purse to bring to the bar in Bupyeong later.

That night, wearing a T-shirt that says “Canadian Celebrity” and red shorts and shoes, I feel ready to pretend I’m excited about being from Canada, too. Setting aside a table at Underground, I put down the ‘Canada’ tattoos, a pair of kitchen scissors I’ll never see again, and a small cup of water.

“I’m not wearing a Canada tattoo,” Mike says when he arrives. He’s very proud to be American, and I see no reason to force anyone to wear a maple leaf on their face if they don’t want to. Others also seem hesitant, walking near the table, eyeing the tattoos, then moving on to the bathroom or the electronic dart board.

The first non-Canadians we convert are Kiwis wearing red shirts. Then South Africans join us. Soon, we’re all posing in front of a Canadian flag as J-Man, the bar owner turns on Canadian music: Joel Plaskett, Tragically Hip, Shania Twain, Justin Bieber.

More people arrive and the neat rectangular sheets of tattoos are cut into lopsided paper snowflakes. There’s a small crowd of people trying to find the perfect one to complement their outfits.

It’s unlike any Canada Day spent watching fireworks and slapping at mosquitoes in Timmins, Ont. The bar is already out of Moosehead, the only Canadian beer I’ve ever seen in Korea. No big loss, in my opinion. The Littlest Hobo is projected onto the back wall of the bar and I explain to an Englishman what it is, if not why it’s playing. There’s barely room to move in between the waves of red and white clothing and tattoos. Even Mike has a maple leaf on his cheek now.

A warm glow of beer-drinking (spreads) out through the bar, along with the tattoos, and so does a kind of pride in being Canadian. Never expecting to find it here, I’m even proud to sing every word of ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman.’

I’m happy I didn’t waste the tattoos on the kids, happy I came to Korea, and happy I’m Canadian. And although I’m not sure the Founding Fathers would approve, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Canada Day than in Korea, in a basement bar with friends from all over the world.

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Teddy bears vs dinosaurs

Teddy bears vs dinosaurs

The bus passes a billboard for a Teddy Bear museum featuring dinosaurs. Turning to Alex, I catch him just before he puts his headphones in. I wonder aloud what the deal is with Teddy Bear museums in Korea. They’re everywhere, from Seoul to Jeju and cover various time periods. Alex listens, resting his iPod on his leg, but not putting it away.

“Are they suggesting that Teddy Bears were there?” I say. Alex hasn’t said much during this rant, but I don’t feel like going to sleep and I don’t want to sit quietly for the next six hours as we drive through Sunday traffic to get back to Incheon. “Who do you think would have won in a battle between Teddy Bears and dinosaurs?”

Now he raises his eyebrows, “Obviously, it would have to be dinosaurs. Is that even a question?”

“But they can’t die,” I say. “Teddy Bears are like really cute zombies.”

“Sabrina, they can’t die because they’re not alive,” he says, but doesn’t pick up his MP3 player.

“You only think they aren’t alive because of the Teddy Bear Law,” I say. “They can’t let humans see them move. And there weren’t any people when dinosaurs were around.”

“I don’t think there were any Teddy Bears around, either.”

“I don’t know, that billboard seems to show differently,” he picks up his iPod at this and starts flipping through songs.

“Dinosaurs are bigger and stronger.”

“But Teddy Bears can’t die.”

“Because they’re not alive,” he says, putting one headphone in. “And even if they were, they’re not big enough to fight dinosaurs.”

“But they could create a Teddy Bear army. Sew themselves back together when they get ripped apart. Even a big dinosaur couldn’t fight off an endless horde.”

“I don’t think you understand how big dinosaurs are, Sabrina.”

Mike walks up the aisle, stepping over stray bags and feet.

“What are you talking about?” he asks, leaning against the seat in front of us.

“Whether Teddy Bears or dinosaurs would win in an epic battle,” I say.

“It has to be dinosaurs, right?” he says, looking from one of us to the other.

“Exactly,” Alex says.

“But Teddy Bears can’t die,” I start.

Mike raises an eyebrow, nods, then stands and walks back up the bus.