I never really wrote about how we met or how our first date went, so in honor of our first anniversary…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.