Two years ago I completed my move from Atlanta to Minnesota in preparation of coming to Korea. One year ago Good Man and I had our first date.
I never really wrote about how we met or how our first date went, so in honor of our first anniversary…
Meeting Good Man
Good Man and I lived very close to each other when I worked for Evil Woman Who Got Me Evicted
, but that’s not how we met. After I’d moved to Anyang, I posted an ad on Seoul Craigslist
I Like Smart Men.
똑똑한 남자 만나고 싶어요. 미국 사람이에요. 한국어를 공부하지만 잘 못 해요…
Translation? I want to meet a smart man. I am American. I study Korean but don’t know it well.
I got a lot of responses to the ad. Some were from white guys who were angry I wrote in Korean. Some said, “I can’t speak Korean but I want to have a pretty Korean wife.” One was from a creepy Chinese Australian guy who wanted to sort-of cheat on his Korean wife by acting out things from Japanese adult movies. Most were from Koreans who had lived abroad, and I got some from foreigners who could read Korean, too.
Good Man’s reply was the first one I received. He wrote that I could call him Daniel, that he liked playing basketball and having beer with friends and that he’d recently graduated. He also wrote, “If you want to learn more Korean, it would be also good idea to hang out with Korean guy like me :)”
He seemed like a nice guy, and after a few more emails (where I did not call him Daniel) we exchanged contact details and arranged a date for that weekend. I suggested we see Monet, figuring that even if the date were horrible, I’d get to see the water lilies. We were to meet Sunday at 1.
The Date: Monet
Sunday morning I woke up and I was sort of tired and cranky, and I actually considered canceling the date. (I’ve never told Good Man that.) I told a friend that I wanted to wear my new purple Cons
with my black skirt and she scolded me for not dressing up, so I chose black flats. I ended up running around trying to find a black purse to go with my black skirt and black shoes because kimchi forbid I take my brown one. I settled on a black pocketbook. (Anyone who knows Good Man is laughing now, because he is the last man on earth who would notice what color purse I had or care if I’d worn purple Cons.)
Well before I left the house, Good Man text messaged me. “Where are you?” I worried that I was late. I double-checked the time and wrote back, “We’re meeting at 1.” Now I understand that it was not an “I’m waiting, where are you?” message, but Good Man’s typical, “Where are you?” message.
I read a book on the subway because I didn’t want to bring my iPod on the date. I arrived at the subway station on time and he texted that he’d be a little late. We met and he didn’t even introduce himself. He just said, “OK, let’s go.”
We went to the museum and the exhibit was beautiful. Making conversation however, was a bit tough. Good Man complained about not having a job and not having money. I knew he’d just graduated and was looking for a job. I decided to change the subject. “So, what did you do in the military?”
“I did communications. I volunteered to go to Afghanistan.”
“Because you get paid more.”
OK, I decided to try a different question. “What do your parents do?”
“My father works in the Middle East, my mother is a housewife. I need a job.”
One thing I have learned about Good Man since our first date is that when he has his mind on something, he is focused on that topic and he is stubborn about it. Another thing I learned since our first date is that the economy in Korea is very tough for new graduates. In retrospect it’s no wonder he was worried about getting a job, but at the time I (incorrectly) thought, “All this man cares about is money.”
The Date: Lunch
After the museum, we wandered around, then found a pasta place (near Myeongdong?), where we had a late lunch. The thing is, Good Man wasn’t talking. I would ask questions and he’d answer with a nod, “yes,” “no.” It felt like I was pulling teeth to get him to talk. I figured we’d part after lunch.
He suggested we go to a market. We went to the market (Namdaemun?) where I found the little black purse I wish I’d found earlier that morning at New Core Outlet. I said nothing. While I said nothing about the purse, Good Man continued to say…nothing. So the date was going to end after the market, right?
After the market he suggested we go to Yeouido. I couldn’t really figure out why he kept making the date longer since he wasn’t really talking. I also couldn’t figure out a way to gracefully exit from the date since he’d asked at the beginning if I had any other plans that day.
At Yeouido, we spent some time at the Han River Park. We were able to chat a bit more. I remember he said he wanted to adopt kids. I was surprised because Koreans usually don’t adopt. I said as much and he said, “We’re more into exporting them.” He talked about computers and how I should switch from FireFox to Opera.
The date still wasn’t over.
The Date: Church and Soju
He asked if I wanted to see the largest church in Korea. It was just down the street, so why not? And it was, indeed, huge.
After visiting the church, we decided to have drinks. We had some soju, and after drinks—before I could even offer to pay for them—he said, “Uh, you need to pay for this.”
I laughed it off, but I was convinced we would never go on a second date. He was barely talking, only shrugging or giving one word answers to questions, not really asking me questions, and he just seemed bored.
And still. The date went on!
After drinks, we grabbed some ice cream and headed back to Yeouido Park, where we sat on a bench and (sort of) talked.
We had walked so much, my feet ached and my feet had blistered, despite wearing comfortable, broken-in shoes. I still couldn’t read Good Man because he wasn’t talking much. Plus, I’d always had a harder time reading dates in Korea than at home. The whole lack of a goodnight kiss/hug messes with me.
Finally, at 10:30, we went our separate ways at the subway station. I thought, “I will never see this man again, because we just didn’t click.” It wasn’t even that I thought the date was horrible (it wasn’t really), I just thought we wouldn’t meet again.
Ahhh…the mythical click.
After the Date
The next day, after taekwondo, Good Man and I were online at the same time. We started chatting. Usually, in the States, I would try to be more mysterious with a new guy, or try to be flirty.
When Good Man started chatting with me, I threw my rules out the window. I didn’t think he liked me, really, and I wasn’t too interested in him. I figured we wouldn’t meet again, so I just acted normal. We chatted quite a bit Monday night and I wondered why he didn’t talk on our date.
The next day I got a letter saying I needed to be back near where I worked to go to Labor Board. Normally I would let a guy ask for a second date, but since I figured Good Man didn’t even like me, and didn’t really think I was interested in him, I didn’t worry about it. I told him I had to be on his side of town Thursday evening, did he want to have dinner?
Well, our second date went much better than our first, and our third even better.
I love our first date “story” because it’s not what I would’ve expected from such a great relationship. Good Man thought that it went well while I thought the opposite. I’ve had lots of great first dates that turned into nothing more. I’ve had a few very bad first dates. I read him so wrong though, I’m glad I gave a second date a chance.
Actually, now that I think about it, meeting Good Man’s family was a lot like our first date!
굿 맨, 사랑해.