The Butterfly Effect

There we all were eating barbecue. Twenty of us, engineering graduates and engineers, catching up on old times. Chatting and yammering away when suddenly a really cute Korean girl comes up to our table and starts to introduce herself. She was a beautiful and cute little thing, matched with sunny cheerfulness and jovial attitude and she told us her name and asked for each of ours. So thus we came to know Sudang (that’s the way she said it, with emphasis on the “dang” part, speaking it with a nasal tone). We were all captivated by her, for never before have we met such a cheery cute Korean who willingly talks to us locals and asks us lots of questions. Her friends and fellow Koreans in the next table smile and wave at us, but none were in a hurry to join our newest acquaintance. They seemed aloof and you can get the impression that they’d be wasting their time if they came. But not our cute cheery friend, who was now telling us the various tourists spots she’d been to and asked each of us whether we’ve ever been there (in a really affable English accent, a kind of broken American English with British overtones but she can speak well and can organize her thoughts pretty nicely). We gave her our generic “we’d like to go there” responses. She’s from Seoul and stuff and she joked around us like we’ve known her for quite some time.

By this time, I’m aching to join the conversation since by bad luck I was on one end of the table and we were separated by a sea of bodies. So I stand up and walk the length of the table to sit somewhere nearer. The guys immediately picked up my movement on their peripheral visions and all heads suddenly turned towards me as I began my long arduous walk. My intentions were pretty clear and they all started to mischievously smile and look at me like I was a perverted bastard or something. I forced a weak smile back at them. Unfortunately Sudang noticed their expressions and saw me and came to her own conclusions. When I sat a person away from her, the awkward atmosphere was pretty palpable. She was now staring at me so I extended my hand and shook hers, with the matching “Hi, I’m Kevin” lame pickup line. The guys burst into derisive  jeers and catcalls. There was this long droning “ooooooo”-sounding horrible thing from them, as if they were inspired to make me feel the most embarrassed guy on the planet. That cursed sound was my downfall.

I had lots of questions and stuff to ask and tell her, from what her western name was, to where in Seoul she lived, to where else she’s been to, if she had a boyfriend in the next table, to complimenting her on her pink nails and what her number is. But before I could open my mouth she pointed at me and asked the guys: “Is he a paru-paru?” We couldn’t understand what she meant (at first I thought she meant butterfly, and I wondered if she thought I was gay or something). She looked hard at me and finally found the equivalent of the mysterious paru-paru. “Is he a playboy?”

Jeering laughter erupted all around me. People were yelling “He is he is” I was a bit taken back and red-faced. When I managed a weak “I’m not” she suddenly stood up and told is how cool it was to talk to us and we waved our goodbyes and she scampered off to join her friends, who by now were almost at the exit. She ran after them in a quick athletic gait. So I couldn’t talk to her after all, much less ask for her number. Why in the world did she have to think of me as a playboy for Christ’s sake. That’s the last thing I’d probably be.

Damn paru-paru.

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~ by Kevin on September 6, 2007.

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