How do I explain that this was the most unnaturally natural conversation I had had in a long time. These kinds of encounters do not occur in Los Angeles where people won’t even acknowledge you unless you have substantial IMDB credits, nor in Nepal, where asking someone for directions will inevitably get you to anywhere but the intended destination.
I asked him to wait while I changed my money. The receptionist was fed up with me at this point and happily informed me that no one in Hong Kong would exchange Nepali rupees into Hong Kong dollars. However, the Frenchman said that he knew a bank that might do it for me. We got into the elevator together and continued staring at each other. I couldn’t believe this, but he continued to get better looking with each passing second.
Unfortunately, the receptionist was right. The bank downstairs confirmed that no one wanted third-world money, which even furthered my desire to help Nepal. I thought— screw it— and hoped the few Hong Kong dollars I had would last me the rest of the day.
He asked me what I wanted for lunch. I suggested Dim Sum, but he hesitated. He said he didn’t eat pork or seafood. He asked if I wanted Korean. I looked at him oddly, wondering if he suspected that I was Korean. I am, but how does he know? Why? Does it even matter? Does he have a fetish for Korean girls? I hate this. I experience this enough in LA. Oh God. He’s Gorgeous. Does it even matter? Shut up Jen. Silence. The dialogue in my head finally obeyed.
I said sure, and we headed toward a Korean restaurant a few blocks away. However, when we looked at the menu, he hesitated again— after reading the menu, he explained that the restaurant only served pork. I was baffled and markedly impressed. Apparently, he read Korean characters, and his comprehension seemed to rival mine, which shouldn’t be all that impressive, since I’m at a third grade level at best, but this guy was a gorgeous Frenchman. Why the hell did he know the language?
So I asked him. He told me he had been in Korea the last few weeks, learning and falling in love with the language, the culture and the people. He had quit his medical sales job in Paris six months prior and come to Asia in search of the quintessential life change, perhaps the same one I was seeking. He had to return to Paris however, because his wallet and passport had been stolen earlier in the week. He did have plans, however, to settle indefinitely in Korea one day.
Coincidentally, he was also in Hong Kong on layover, and his flight was scheduled to depart five minutes after mine. We decided to accompany each another to the airport later that evening, naturally.
Eventually, we decided to go to a good Japanese place he knew, which ended up being a Yoshinoya—I mean, it’s nicer than the ones I’m used to and all, but it was still a Yoshinoya. I couldn’t help but crack-up laughing. He asked me what was so funny. I told him that I had been here before: “It’s a popular place in America.”
He shrugged his shoulders and casually responded, “I dunno. They do not have in France, and it’s good.”
I didn’t argue. It is good. It’s my favorite 2 a.m. post-getting-wasted snack.
We ordered separately and sat across from each other in a red vinyl booth. I felt awkward having fast food with such a beautiful guy. But it wasn’t a date. It was just lunch in a foreign city that I was simply passing through on a day that didn’t even really exist since I would repeat it the next day.
I tried to take it easy and just start talking about nothing. I turned off my usual adorableness, charm, sexiness, and other qualities that I think I exude when I’m wearing expensive clothes and makeup. Instead, I rambled on about nonsense and listened intently to his. We proceeded to have one of those conversations that you can only recall bits and pieces of year later.
We spoke in English mostly because my French is terrible; still, he wanted me to try. He was a bad student but learned English by watching Dawson’s Creek and Grey’s Anatomy. I asked him which finger he’d be most willing to chop off up if he had to. He picked the middle. I chose my pinky. We completely dismissed each other’s reasoning. He told me about how he never knew altruism until he went to Korea. I confessed about the leeches that were in my butthole a week earlier. He said that I was the first volunteer he’d ever met as I relished him with stories of Nepal. I also told him that I was Korean. He seemed eager to practice his new language skills and urged me to visit Korea. I couldn’t believe how enamored he was with the country. The last time I went, five years ago, people were not very welcoming. In my experience, they did not celebrate the arrival of linguistically challenged Korean-Americans, but beautiful Frenchmen were probably treated like royalty.
He’s 25. Of course he is. I swore off 25 year olds in March. We talked for at least an hour, before I realized that we haven’t even exchanged names. It seemed paltry at that point, but somehow, even in its insignificance, a name would have made this encounter more credible, more believable.