Final exams are on their way at my school, and so adventures are few and far between these days. Instead, here is a tale from the last time I lived in Korea. 😀
I was walking home from school in Korea, when I saw a friend heading towards me.
“I’m on my way to the hee-to-ness centa!” she announced, looking expectantly at me.
“That’s great! Good for you!” I exclaimed, trying my best to play along. “Ah… how often do you go there?”
“Almost every day.”
“Um… that’s fabulous!” I enthused, still at a loss.
“Do you want to come with me?”
Drat. It is so much easier to bow out gracefully when you have some idea of where you are meant to be going. Then I noticed her sports clothes.
“I’m not really dressed properly,” I tried.
“That’s OK! You can just visit.”
“Your friends go to the hee-to-ness centa don’t they?”
“Maybe… sometimes…I think they might…”
And with that, we arrived at the ‘hee-to-ness centa’, or the fitness center. I was definitely in trouble. I tried backpedaling.
“Well, this is really great. Thank you for showing me where the gym is!”
“Come in and see it! It’s very nice!”
“Yes, I’m sure it’s lovely! But really, I’m still in my school clothes and I’m wearing a skirt…”
“You said you were thinking of joining the gym…”
“I did? I must have meant… um… maybe when I’m wearing more comfortable clothes…”
“You might as well come in and meet everyone now, so it will be easy to join later.”
She had me. I had two options: I could be rude and refuse to enter the gym, or I could gracefully accept and suffer through a few introductions and leave as soon as possible. I took off my shoes and went in.
My friend immediately rushed off to find the manager while I lingered awkwardly at the door. I felt hugely out of place. Being six feet tall and foreign didn’t help matters. I was the focus of a lot of amused glances and surprised stares. Strangely, most of the exercisers were women.
“…and this is Carrie.”
I turned to face my returning friend and was confronted by a vision of Korean manhood. The manager of the gym was a very handsome, very muscular young gentleman.
I would like to say that I held up the name of Western Woman with grace and aplomb. I would love to say that I remained cool and aloof in the presence of this young Korean Adonis. I would be thrilled to say that I didn’t have to pick my jaw up off the floor, or pop my eyeballs back into my head. Sadly, all I can say is that at least I didn’t drool.
“Good news Carrie! He says that you can join today!” my friend exclaimed.
“Great,” I muttered trying to focus on what she was saying, “Wait… what? Oh no! I mean that’s great! But not great…
Adonis watched this exchange with a patient smile, his beautiful head swinging back and forth like he was at a tennis match.
“I am busy, but the manager will show you around! He doesn’t speak English though. Is that OK?”
Before I could respond, Adonis grinned at me.
“No English, no problem! Body language, OK?”
Goodness me. Hello, Mrs. Robinson.
Little did I realize what I was in for. Adonis had me fill out a short form then he told me to stand on the scale. I stared at him in disbelief.
“Please?” he added. Gingerly I stepped onto the little Asian scale, fully prepared to have it shatter under my enormous Western weight. There was a bar with handles attached to the scale, making it look rather like a small scooter. Adonis told me to grip the handles and then he pressed a few buttons. There was a whirring noise and then the printer beside me spat out a paper.
Adonis led me to a table, and proceeded (to my complete mortification and the amusement of everyone else in the gym) to mime out an explanation for the paper. The machine had apparently not only weighed me, but had assessed my BMI, my hip to waist ratio, the strength of my arms and legs, my body fat percentage and a whole list of other things I didn’t really need the world to know.
The gleaming paragon of Korean manhood informed me (after counting on his fingers to figure out the numbers in English) that I needed to lose 21.6 kg. (That’s 47.52lbs!!!!!)
“Excuse me?” I gasped in disbelief.
“Exercise, yes!! Fat no no no!” he replied, as if that cleared everything up.
“But if I loose 21.6 kg, I will weigh less than I did when I was 10 years old!!”
“You need six-pack like me!” he said, lifting his shirt and pointing to his stomach.
While this did distract me somewhat, I did have to wonder how he knew words like ‘six pack’ but not the days of the week.
Next we embarked upon our tour of the gym. Since the gym was small and I was wearing a skirt, I assumed the tour would be short. Adonis however, saw neither as an impediment. We stopped at each and every machine, where he showed me (using frankly ridiculous amounts of weights) how to use each one. And then expected me to try. Before I could try however, he had to adjust all of the machines because I was “so big.” I decided that he was referring to my height rather than my weight…
An hour later, we finished out tour at the ‘fat mixer.’ I thought this was a mistranslation but on the machine, in big pink neon letters were the words ‘Relax Fat Mixer.’ There was nothing relaxing about it. I stood on the fat mixer, every ounce of fat on my body jiggling, while Adonis excitedly showed me how to adjust the speed for a whole spectrum of fat mixing options. I felt sea-sick when I stepped down.
As soon as possible, I bid Adonis farewell, and staggered back to my apartment to eat carrot sticks. Fat no no no!