(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Donawhale – “Echo.” Moody, melodic, lovely indie-rockers. [ zShare download ]
I really liked this chapter… Not for a romantic reason (though that’s never bad), but because the conversation is, for the first time, a little more profound. It definitely shows where both Han Gyul and Eun Chan are coming from, and shows what contrasting philosophies govern both of their lives.
CHAPTER 10: “Lemon Coffee for a Hangover”
After nearly hitting Eun Chan with his car in the rain, Han Gyul takes her with him to dry off and get something to eat. She initially thinks to decline and make a fast getaway when Han Gyul notes she has no facial hair, fine (though abundant) hair, and no Adam’s apple, but Han Gyul impatiently tells her to follow along.
They arrive at his special VIP quarters at the hotel, Room S11, where Han Gyul tosses her some clothes and tells her to wash off. Inside the luxurious bathroom, she showers and changes, disgruntled to find that the waist of the pants fits hers perfectly.
Unwilling to believe they have the same size waist, she asks leadingly:
“Are these pants from your high school days?”
“I graduated from high school ages ago. You think I’d still wear the same clothes?”
“Then, are they too small for you to wear?”
“Hey kid, if you want to keep them, just say you want to keep them. What kind of guy beats around the bush like that? I won’t wear them anyway after you’ve worn them, so take ’em.”
Han Gyul orders an expensive gourmet dinner from the hotel’s Italian restaurant, named My Ex-Wife’s Secret Recipe. Eun Chan dives in: “There was a ton of expensive and delicious-looking food on the tabletop. But she didn’t bother worrying about where to start eating, since she was gonna eat it all anyway.”
Eating steak and drinking wine, Eun Chan starts feeling relaxed and languid: “The feeling wasn’t bad, it was nice and comfortable.”
Eun Chan and Han Gyul have an interesting conversation that reveals both of their mentalities. She asks why he isn’t interested in marriage — is he a misogynist? Han Gyul responds plainly:
“Why would I hate women? How would I handle thinking about sex every thirty seconds if I hated women?”
Caught off-guard and embarrassed, Eun Chan coughs and reddens, thinking back to their kiss, trying to avoid looking at his lips. Han Gyul muses, “Well, I suppose there’s a way to manage that with men too.” More awkwardness from Eun Chan, which Han Gyul misinterprets as her fear that he’ll come on to her again. He assures her that he was as put off by their kiss as she was.
Han Gyul mentions one gay friend who only ever thinks about sex, and says at least gays don’t have to worry about getting a woman pregnant. Eun Chan says they have to worry about AIDS, though, and Han Gyul says not all gay people get AIDS: “Condoms weren’t made to be used as balloons, you know.”
Han Gyul suddenly looks closer at Eun Chan, unsettling her.
The breath suddenly caught in her throat. It occurred to her all at once that they were the only two people in this hotel room. She may have looked like a boy on the outside, but inside she was a normal girl. It was only natural that her heart would thump at being with a good-looking, stylish man. Nervous, her heart beating fast, Eun Chan’s words came out in a tremble.
“Why– why are you looking at me like that?”
“Condoms… never mind. At your age, it can’t be that you’ve never used one, right?’
Totally nervous and flustered, Eun Chan changes the subject. Does he dislike marriage because he doesn’t want children? Han Gyul suddenly turns serious and asks if she can imagine taking care of someone else’s life for twenty years.
“From time to time… no, often, it becomes hard enough caring for your own body. That’s life. Do you think anything changes at the age of forty, fifty? In the end, it comes to this — in time the world becomes dirty, your mind wears down, your body ages and tires, and you feel you need to lean on someone… people get married and have children in preparation for that time.”
He drank his wine with a cynical expression. As though watching a movie on a large screen, his appearance caught her eye. The wine that entered his mouth without staining the perimeter… the fingers holding the wineglass… the cheeks that sucked inward when he drank… the gaze lowered at a 45 degree angle. Eun Chan let out a small sigh. She had to admit one more time that he was a handsome man. It’s a female instinct to be drawn to attractive men. It’s not because she had any particular feelings for him……
Han Gyul and Eun Chan argue about the roles of parenting. He says if you make mistakes and regret things on your own, what right do you have to inflict that upon your child? Eun Chan replies:
“Parents are human, so of course it’s natural they’d make mistakes too.”
“To their children, too?”
“Come on. I’ve done a lot more wrong to my parents than they’ve done to me. Sure, when you’re young you feel hurt, but as you grow older, you come to understand. When you become an adult, you realize adults aren’t perfect.”
“If it ends merely with hurt feelings, that’s a good thing. Like it or not, you can also ruin someone’s life, whether it’s through poverty, pain, or like your father, dying suddenly in an accident.”
Eun Chan sobered instantly.
“So you’re saying my father ruined my life, is that right?”
“I didn’t say it was ruined. I said it could have been.”
“That’s the same thing!”
“Don’t yell, man. I’m in the middle of telling you that marriage is like life’s grave.”
“Wow, you’re really twisted.”
“All right, no more drinking for you.”
Eun Chan defends her father, bringing up the instance where she was playing around on a balcony and fell, and her father caught her. Not even aware of his own pain at having broken his arm in the process, he rushed her to the hospital. If not for his selfless act, she wouldn’t be alive. Naturally, Han Gyul sees it differently:
“A kid doesn’t know the dangers of playing around on a balcony. The adult knows, but still is careless. If you weren’t born to this world, you wouldn’t face that kind of danger. Do you know why a newborn infant cries in fear the moment they’re born? It’s because they know that birth means doom. They’re shouting, ‘Don’t just bring me into this world and walk around blissfully! This is hell. You’ve lived, so you should know!’ A person knows, the moment they come into contact with a divine force, that this world is no different from hell.”
Eun Chan doesn’t buy his cynicsm (although personally, there seems to be a ring of truth to it……) and wonders, “Did someone hurt you severely when you were growing up?”
The conversation reaches a conclusion when Han Gyul’s phone interrupts. When he finishes the call from his mother (telling him to come live at home instead of staying at the hotel), he finds Eun Chan lying on the couch, sleepy from wine. He tries to rouse her, but she mumbles that she’ll get up in two hours. Exactly two hours. She tells him to wake her up then, because she has to go on her milk delivery run… and then, no amount of prodding will wake her as she’s out cold.
Han Gyul takes a blanket and covers her, and watches as she sleeps:
The guy, sleeping so peacefully, looked cute enough. Is this how he’d feel if he had a younger brother? Adjusting the blanket, for some reason he felt something like sympathy, or pity.
The guy sure has creamy skin. Look at that peach fuzz. How could he not have any facial hair? He must have had poor growth, probably from not eating enough when he was growing up. That’s why he’s such a voracious eater now. There are guys who have their growth spurt late, too. How can a guy’s skin be so……
His hand reached out toward her cheek. The instant his finger touched her skin, Han Gyul started, and quickly withdrew his hand. In his moment of confusion, he touched her hair. He felt that sensation the last time too…… He shuddered again, and in his sudden surprise, his finger got tangled in her hair.
“And still, he doesn’t move a muscle. Geez, sleepyhead.”
Eun Chan wakes up at dawn, alarmed that Han Gyul didn’t wake her, in a hurry because she can’t miss her milk delivery run. Surprisingly, Han Gyul’s already awake (though half-naked in only his boxers), and hands her a cup of something to help with hangovers. She takes it (since he got up at daybreak to make something for her — he goes back to sleep afterward), and though it looks like coffee, it has a sweet-sour taste to it.
After her milk run is over, Eun Chan notices the lights turn on at the cafe, and wonders who it could be, since they’re hours from opening. Entering cautiously (what if it’s a robber?), she sees that Ha Rim has taken up temporary residence inside. They go out to breakfast together, and Ha Rim explains that he left home yet again. It’s a recurring scenario — his father wants him to go to medical school, and he wants to go to art school. He was crashing with a friend, but ever since the friend got a girlfriend, Ha Rim has had to find other places to go.
Eun Chan asks what he wants to do with his life, and Ha Rim answers that he wants to be an art director. When watching a movie, other people are moved by the actors or the directors, but he feels affinity for the locations, the props.
Eun Chan notes grudgingly that he’s given a surprisingly concrete answer, and reevaluates her opinion of him. After they finish eating, she pays for the meal (she’s older, thus the “hyung”) and gives him some extra money to go to the sauna.
Hearing that Ha Rim was sleeping at the cafe caused her to worry about a lot of things. She hadn’t known him for a long while, but already she felt like he was a younger brother. I hope he doesn’t catch cold……
/end Chapter 10.