My internet went out about a week ago on account of me not paying the bill as I was under the impression that bill was being paid by my school out of the 100,000 won "maintenance fee" I pay each month. Apparently that fee only covers the cost of my Building Ajumma's "trash sorting services," but I digress. Anyway, I'm not paying the bill until after China (so I can spend copious amounts of money on the knockoff Northface jackets and Rolexes my mother has requested), so I am without internet. This is patently unacceptable, so I've been spending a lot of quality time in Starbucks, soaking up the free internet and that fact that no one seems to mind that I only sporadically buy anything. Sweet.
And in that free time I have witnessed a hell of a lot of social sleeping, one borderline pornographic public make-out session and a handful of women snuggled on the couches, sans shoes. When did this become okay?
Last Saturday, after my weekly breakfast date with Amanda, we ventured to the 'Bucks for some coffee and interwebs. The only available seats were a pair of overstuffed armchairs facing a couple, peacefully entwined in each others arms, dreaming the afternoon away. Alright. We turned the chairs to face each other, and did our best to ignore the happy couple. After about an hour, they both decided to rejoin the world, stretching, cooing to one another, and generally making Amanda and I sick with their merriment. And then they started to make-out. And feed each other. And lick their lips seductively. It's like they were in their own soft-core porn, except they were fully clothed and IN PUBLIC. Now, I've been repeating the mantra "Seoul is for lovers" for a good year, but that's because everything is tailored to couples -- the couples set, the couples underwear, Namsan Tower. But public displays of affection of this magnitude are practically unheard of in Korea. Amanda and I were shocked.
Then there are the women who bring their snuggies and a good book, kick off their shoes and curl up on the couches for a nice afternoon of reading, only to fall asleep with the books in their laps. I find this exceptionally weird because, last time I checked, Starbucks was a coffee shop. You know coffee, that drink that keeps cops and college students awake at ungodly hours? How can these people doze in a public place after downing a caffeinated beverage? I've had a hard enough time falling asleep in my own bed on the rare occasions I've milked one toffee nut latte after 8PM.
However, I think my favorite social sleepers are the Korean Businessmen. They sleep anywhere -- buses, subways, park benches, gutters (I've got a picture on my phone of a businessman doing just that, I swear), and Starbucks. For the past three hours I've been watching three businessmen alternate between dozing on the couches, and making prank calls on their celly cells. (Okay, maybe they weren't making prank calls, but since I believe most of the Korean workweek consists of looking busy and not actually accomplishing anything, I think it's safe to assume their calls were of little importance. This is the direct result of the mandatory 80 hour workweek.) It's always funny to see a sharp dressed man sleeping on a couch, his head slumped to one side, his mouth lolling open. Makes 'em seem vulnerable and sad, instead of misogynistic and adulterous.
Of course, one could argue that I'm just as ridiculous, nursing my single cafe Americano for four hours while I pass judgement, I mean blog, on my surroundings. At 3,300 won each, I believe that works out to about 825 won per hour of Internet usage, which is far more expensive than blogging at home. But not nearly as interesting.