Monday, April 28, 2008

Travelogue #35: The Usual Suspect at Dos Tacos in Gangnam

<---Travelogue #34: The Living-in-Korea Photologues October 2007-April 2008
--->San Nakji @ Garak Market © MikeyMogo

A Korean woman brushes past me gently and with a shy smile says, "I'm sorry." Her hair is long and black, complimented by invitingly bright teeth and spring-blue fingernails. She pulls a few napkins from the dispenser and hands me a couple. "Thank you," I say, my voice echoing hers, gently, shyly. A silk blouse drapes her shoulders with a casual classiness that spells lady. Her shimmering orb-like earrings are fit apparel for a concert hall, but not so much a restaurant called Dos Tacos, which is where we're sitting this afternoon, separated by a few empty seats at the bar.

I've suddenly lost all interest in my guacamole.

Who is this woman? Why is she eating alone? It'd be a shame not to take our napkin conversation to the next level, especially with thoughts of last night's success still ringing in my brain.

"What did you order?" I ask her.

Between nibbles, she presses her fingers against her lips. "Water?" she says, wheeling her seat towards the soda fountain.

"Oh, no, not water," I say, confusing her. "What food did you order?"

"Quesadilla," chimes an unwelcome guest, one of the Dos Tacos guys on the other side of the counter. He sprinkles beef into a soft taco, not even looking up to acknowledge he's cramping my game.

I turn back to my burrito and my chips and salsa. Hmm...what next...what next...she's still sitting there, alone with her quesadilla.

"Do you live in Gangnam?" I ask.

She nods wordlessly, mouth full of goodness. "How's your food?"

A different man in a Dos Tacos t-shirt laughs behind the bar, his back to me.

"I love Mexican food," I say, "I came on the subway from Bundang. Took me an hour to get here."

The man looks at me over his shoulder and utters two words that strike me like a bowling ball to the ribs:

"My wife," he says.


The puzzle pieces snap together. She gave me napkins. Everything. She offered me water. Makes. She asked me how I liked my food. Sense.

I was flirting with the wife of the owner of Dos Tacos, and I was doing so while wearing shorts. This is my own The Usual Suspects moment,

but instead of shattering a coffee mug, I just smile and praise my meal. "Thank you very much," I tell him after I pay the bill. I say so sincerely. By this point his wife has left the premises. I imagine her evacuated by a S.W.A.T team.

"Bye," he says with a nice-try-buddy smirk in his voice.

In The Usual Suspects, Verbal Kint puts it this way: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."

That quote has nothing to do with this story, but what Verbal says next does apply: "And like that, he's gone."

Adios, Dos Tacos.


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