Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Travelogue #11: The Alex Pollack Welcoming Party

<--- a="" href="http://www.alexpollack.com/2007/11/travelogue-10-best-explanation-of-spam.html">Travelogue #10: The Best Explanation of Spam in the History of Mankind
--->Travelogue #12: Hiking and Fooding in Namhansanseong

November 10 2007

On HBO's Jerry Seinfeld: The Comedian Award, the sitcom master claimed a peer-applauded prize for a lifetime of comedic success. "I really don't want to be up here," Seinfeld said in his acceptance speech, "I want to be in the back, over there somewhere, saying something funny to somebody about what a crock this whole thing is."

That's exactly how I felt in the precious moments before "The Alex Pollack Welcoming Party." A party named after me? Who the hell am I? I love being the observer, the watcher, but to be the main event? Will they want me to make jokes? When I try to "perform" outside my natural, conversational element, I flop. For evidence ask my mom, who endured my 2006 Kira Pollack Roast, where I used a remote control in lieu of a microphone to make anything-goes jokes at my mother's expense. I was merciless. "Mom, you're so short, " I said preparing for the sting of the punchline, "that you are practically a midget!" She sighed. "Alex, why?" I put the remote control down.

I was bad. Really, really bad.

But I digress. Let me explain the genesis behind "The Alex Pollack Welcoming Party." On Facebook, I received a random message from a stranger known only as Freddy Finebloke:

"I hope you're free this Saturday night. Be warned, a lot of people are going to give you free alcohol and you'll meet a lot of girls. I guess it's hard to be you these days..."

I checked my Facebook Event invitations, and there it was: a hundred or so people invited to a welcome-to-Korea party for, well, me.

"Do I know Alex Pollack? No. Do you know Alex Pollack? Probably not. Does Interpol know Alex Pollack? I sincerely hope not. Is Alex Pollack a cool dude who doesn't mind the fact that I've just thrown a party in his name when we haven't even met and everyone there is going to be a stranger?... I thought to myself, man it would've been great to have just arrived in Korea (as my facebook stalking of profiles has informed me of Alex) and had someone throw a party for me to meet people. That's what we do here at the Bundang Social Club, we make dreams come true."

So there it was. I didn't know what to expect, but I was ready to party.

Until I got a cold.

Aleve. Cold medicine. More Aleve. More cold medicine. Long naps. Saturday afternoon. Damn. Was I in any mood to party? This shindig was in my name; what would happen if I just plain didn't show up?

I gathered myself together. I would go, though I was in no physical shape for sweat-drop-down-my-balls partying.

The event was at Barbosa's, and I came flanked with ladies from work who offered to be my "hoes" for appearance's sake. If only I could wear Kanye's ridiculous shuttered glasses, I'd really be set for a silky entrance.

Strutting into Barbosas, we found a long table decked with strangers and pitchers of beer. Freddy Finebloke (whose name actually is Daniel, but I guess Finebloke reveals his true Aussieness) gave me an enthusiastic handshake. I started to greet his friends, a mish-mash of Canadians and Australians. "Is this Alex Pollack?" they asked, incredulous. Yes, yes it is. I shook hands and heard names that I forgot by the next handshake. There was a Korean girl in the mix, and the fellas tried to convince her that I was an American pop star, that my face was plastered on posters and billboards. She smiled shyly but they kept going. One said I was responsible for the lyrics of "Hey, Jude." Thanks man.

I met more people and shook more hands. When a pitcher was served, the mild hubbub of my arrival subsided and I was back to being me. Observing. Watching. Listening. A good conversation here and there. It was intriguing to hear how these Canadians ended up in Korea. One used to teach Taekwando in Vancouver. Another used to be a grocery store manager in Toronto. They came because they wanted a change and they figured...why not? A reason not so dissimilar from my own. Cool.

The grocery store manager ended our conversation awkwardly, shaking my hand and saying nice to meet you when neither one of us was really going anywhere. I almost felt like I was rushing a fraternity, ordered to meet and greet and impress strangers. But that feeling too vanished eventually.

I guess my point is that, like Seinfeld, I like being in the back of the party, thinking up wisecracks about whoever's the center of attention. When the Canadians argued passionately with an American about the virtues of the two countries ("We got hockey and healthcare!," said the Canadian. "We got better sports!" said the American), I sat back and watched, grinning.

I didn't need to be Kanye to have a good time.

<--- a="" href="http://www.alexpollack.com/2007/11/travelogue-10-best-explanation-of-spam.html">Travelogue #10: The Best Explanation of Spam in the History of Mankind
--->Travelogue #12: Hiking and Fooding in Namhansanseong