Last Saturday, I met some friends up in Hongdae, the hip spot in Seoul where there’s lots of nightlife. At around one in the morning, the girls wanted to go dancing. The guys weren’t really all that interested in this, but like most guys do, we decided to follow along with what the girls wanted. No one had a particular place in mind, and so we ended up stumbling into a joint called Club Naked. I paid the $10 cover and descended the steps into my own personal hell.
Since it was Saturday, Club Naked was packed. The place was filled with horny American military guys standing around, leering at everyone, and I felt sketched out. There was more sexual frustration in that club than there is in most prisons. In the bathroom, two guys got into a heated argument over which one was had the rights to a certain girl. I told myself that once I left the restroom I would aggressively avoid any females; I’m smart enough to know that if I tried to talk to one, the chances of me getting my ass kicked would far exceed any chances of me getting a phone number (even a fake one).
We’d been there about twenty minutes. My friends and I stood in a circle by the bathrooms. No one was dancing and everyone looked miserable, weighed down by the overwhelming feeling that we were surrounded by people in serious heat. I didn’t want to ruin the time, and so I tried my best to act like I was having a blast. Pushing embarrassment aside, I moved my hips and sang along with the music blaring from the speakers: “Teach me how to dougie teach me teach me how to dougie!”
I suddenly had the feeling that I wouldn’t have to hit on someone’s chick to get my ass kicked.
Finally one of the girls spoke up. “I want to leave,” she said. “We don’t belong here.” Truer words have never been spoken. We absolutely didn’t belong in Club Naked. Everyone nodded in agreement, put on their coats, and seconds later our posse was out the door.
But what she said got me thinking. “We don’t belong here.” I get that feeling a lot. Being at certain locations, I feel like I’ve just walked into the middle of a foreign movie that doesn’t have any subtitles. Lost and confused. That’s life, though, and I’m cool with being an outsider occasionally. It just means that I’m going to all the wrong places. Where then, I’ve been asking myself lately, are the places where I do belong? Where I’m comfortable and happy and perfectly at home? I think everyone should have a short list of places where they connect with the world and here, after much thought, is mine:
Merry-Go-Round: That’s right, a merry-go-round. I feel safe and content while going around in a circle on an old wooden horse. Nothing soothes this guy’s soul like some looped circus music and a little simulated galloping.
Minor League Baseball Game: The half-empty stadium. The cheap beer. The players in their 30s. Minor League baseball games are relaxing and laid back. And I want to be there…which is more than most of the players can say.
Huey Lewis and the News Concert: When I was a kid, my neighbor scored some tickets to a Huey Lewis and the News concert and I remember being seriously blown away by this. “THE Huey Lewis and the News?” I thought, my young mind reeling. Twenty years later I finally got my chance to see the band responsible for Sports in concert myself. It was a joyous experience. There aren’t any hipster posers at a Huey Lewis show. Seeing Huey Lewis doesn’t up anyone’s cool cred. If I had a time machine (a la Back to the Future, a movie featuring the music of the News), I would go back in time to Huey’s performance of “Do You Believe In Love” that night…and maybe to the Renaissance too because that might be interesting as well.
Dive Bar on a Sunday: Not a Friday or Saturday. Too busy. Sunday is when the real drinkers take their seats. Or, more accurately, fall off their seats.
Spencer Gifts: I love this store. What exactly do they sell at Spencer’s? Rock band posters, gag birthday cards, whoopee cushions and tons of funny sex stuff – is this what Spencer, the booming entrepreneur that he was, based his business around? Spencer must’ve been an easily amused moron, and thank God for that! I’ve wasted countless hours of my life enjoying the comedy oasis that is Spencer Gifts and I have no regrets (nor do I think I’ve ever actually purchased anything).
Pet Store: You don’t need to have a pet to enjoy the pet store. Especially the mall pet store, where it’s always a thrill visiting the depressed little puppies in their cages (just don’t try to slip them Prozac – that’s frowned upon). The mall pet store is like an orphanage for animals: there’s one bird that doesn’t make any noises, some fish, and maybe a couple chinchillas that are allowed to walk around the floor in a small enclosed circle with a 5 inch diameter. Still, the pet store is the place for me. It’s a wondrous world all to its own, where a zoo and Oliver Twist come seamlessly together.
The Bathroom in my Apartment: No explanation needed. Or wanted.
Bam! – a fine list of places where I absolutely do belong. See, there’s a place for all of us in this world. So the next time you feel like you don’t belong, you can always join me at Spencer Gifts, where we can share a sense of inner and outer harmony while looking at the lava lamps.