Summer of Soju

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제 15 장

We played pool until the early hours of the morning, venturing out to the CU every now and then to restock on cans of Hite. The old pyjama man waved us off with a smile, still happily playing cards and smoking cigarettes with his friend when we left.

Today, after lazing around watching Show Me the Money for most of the afternoon, Joey returns home from work and presents me with some information, as he ordinarily does: ‘There’s a football game on tonight,’ he says. ‘Frank just invited us.’

‘Don’t you mean soccer?’ I yawn.

’Yes, brother… soccer.’

‘Sure.’ I slide off the sofa. ‘Whatever.’

*

Frank and Justin meet us by the stadium entrance with four tickets and a rucksack full of beers. A fresh-faced Korean stamps our tickets and admits us through the stadium doors, wishing us a ‘happy game’.

‘Don’t think we’ll need to worry about findin’ our seats,’ Frank says, noting the emptiness of the stadium, skipping down to the front row.

‘How was your date the other night?’ Joey asks Frank.

‘Oh, fine. Nothin’ special.’

‘Details?’ Justin probes.

‘Nothin’ much to say.’ Frank shrugs. ‘I mean, I knew somethin’ was up when she was kissin’ me all funny, with her teeth and that. You know, can’t kiss… can’t fuck. That’s a rule of thumb.’

‘Right.’ Joey giggles. ‘Thanks. I’ll remember that one.’

‘And she gripped my dick like it was a joystick or somethin’, her thumb all over my japseye. I mean, what’s that all about?’

’Oh, please.’ Justin sighs. ‘There are kids around, Frank.’

‘Uh, yeah – but they don’t understand, do they?’

‘Depends on how good your classes are.’

Frank grins. ‘I don’t teach my kids filth, Justin.’

‘If you say so.’

’And you can’t say japseye.’ Joey smirks.

‘Oh, and why not?’

’Just think about it.’

‘Okay…’ Frank tilts his head. ‘But what else do you call it, huh?’

Joey pauses for a moment. ‘Well… I’m not sure, but—’

‘Exactly. If we don’t know, then what can we do?’

Frank dishes out the beers as the players take to the pitch. The referee blows on his shiny silver whistle and the thunderous voice of a commentator reverberates through the stadium, cheering on the home side: Daegu! Daegu!

A flock of young Korean girls dressed in white and blue cheerleading outfits position themselves in-between our eyes and the pitch. Two Korean boys arrive late with large metal drums hanging from their necks. They bang out a tune while the cheerleaders shake their pom-poms to the beat. Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

Daegu! the girls cry at the end of each bar, trying to inject some energy into the spectators. Some of the fans raise their fists a few inches high, muttering the word ‘Daegu’ when prompted, while the others politely smile and nod to express their approval of the chant. Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

England! Joey joins in, looking proud with himself.

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

You’re shit! Frank chants at the five or six away fans in the opposite stands.

Justin shakes his head. ‘Come on, Frank. Settle down.’

‘Settle down?’ Frank growls. ‘This is a game, man! We’re meant to be settling up!’

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

You’re shit! he goes again.

‘Please, Frank,’ Justin implores again.

‘Listen, pal,’ Frank turns to Justin, ‘if I don’t do it, then who will? Just look at these sad sacks. It’s like a hospital waiting room!’

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

Daegu! Frank tries another time.

‘Oh, come on!’ he turns to the fans, scowling at their lack of enthusiasm. ’Where’s your pride, lads? They can hardly hear ya on the pitch! We need the 12th man here, come on!’

He climbs on top of his seat and addresses the whole crowd: ‘Come on, boys! Let’s do it! Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh! Daegu! Come on! Come on!’

And besides from a few teenagers that seem to find Frank amusing, the majority of the crowd keep their heads down and try to avoid eye contact, either pretending to read the match leaflet or text on their phones. But this lack of attention appears to amplify Frank’s frustration even more and pushes him to spout his commands twice as loud. ‘Come on! Stand up! Come on! All of you!’ he demands, his orders raining down on them like the beery foam spraying from his mouth. ‘Come on! Come on! Come on!’

A smartly dressed man rushes towards Frank and taps him on the shoulder with a microphone – a microphone! This must be the commentator with the thunderous voice! He gestures for Frank to return to his seat and begrudgingly, Frank obliges. The commentator/security guard looks down on him, smiling, ‘thank you,’ then addresses the rest of the stadium in Korean, probably announcing something along the lines of: fear not soccer fans, the ape has been reprimanded!

The drummer boys continue…

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

‘They don’t know what’s good for em, do they?’ Frank sulks. ‘You try to help people and they just throw it back in your face.’

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

‘There’s just no energy.’

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

’It’s robotic!’

Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh.

‘Oh, where’s the life?!’

Daegu FC finally manage to knock the ball into the feeble net of their opponents, and the cheerleaders shake their pom-poms like they’ve never shaken them before, rocking back and forth, hyping the crowd up the best they can. Duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh, Daegu!

The fans provide a lacklustre response, applauding the goal, only slightly increasing the volume of their ‘Daegu!’ so that it might be heard from two or three rows away now.

Frank rises again in protest, frowning. ‘Look at them! Lifeless bunch!’

He shuffles past our knees and makes for the exit. ‘They don’t deserve it!’

‘Where are you going?’ Joey calls to him.

‘Out!’ he shrieks back. ‘Out! Out! Away from here!’

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