Saturday night marked the completion of a recently discovered Korea bucket list item: 소개팅. Korean style blind dating.
C had suddenly proposed the idea to me Thursday afternoon and by Friday evening the man of interest had already set up Saturday’s dinner plans. I have to say, initiative felt nice.
The night of, I texted my friend J in a panic: what does one wear to this kind of thing?
In classic Korean style, five minutes before I was meant to meet him at the restaurant I received a text that not only had he arrived but had already secured a table.
“Take your time” he texted graciously.
The walk there was nerve wracking but I reminded myself that regardless of what could or would happen, I should keep an open mind and allow myself to have a nice time. At the very least I would have a good dinner and some interesting conversation.
With that in mind, I didn’t feel disappointed when I felt from the beginning that there was no love connection. I had committed to keeping an open mind and he was very kind and easy going. We ate at a Tokyo-themed but Korean-made steakhouse and then he asked what we should do after dinner. I immediately said coffee? But like a good blind date, he had already researched the area and proposed a bar lounge a few blocks away that had good reviews.
I have to say, I am so glad we went with his plan.
This lounge was in a basement with just a few couches and tables. A well-dressed bartender explained how the lounge was set up: we could chose a set menu of five drinks and she would bring each out once we finished the previous. I chose a set with a flower focus and he one with gin. The drinks were beautiful and tasty, even if after five we felt no buzz, the service was amazing and it was so nice to have someone whisk away your cocktail and bring you another without having to flag her down or fight for space at the bar.
Before ordering he wondered if we should get one drink or a set. I told him,
“one drink is $12 but a set of five drinks is $30. We should get the set because it’s a better deal.”
He looked at me astonished and said, “Wow, that is smart. Good plan, let’s do that.”
All thanks to growing up with a bargain-hunting mom (I do mean that literally, she will chase people down and make them wet their pants just to save a dollar).
The whole situation had me curious though, so I asked him why he wanted to meet. He chewed on a pretzel for a long moment and finally said, “Friendship. English practice.”
“What do you want?” He asked.
He may have been throwing me a rope or he may have genuinely thought we were better platonically but regardless I caught the rope with both hands, grateful.
“I think since I am moving soon, friendship would also be good.”
It didn’t change the atmosphere and we still cracked up over his cocktail that looked exactly like a king’s tomb.
Interestingly, he did give me some intel on C: she’s an introvert, she wants to talk to me but doesn’t have anything to say and we are busy during the school day. I can imagine the three of us getting together; maybe we can work up to that.
(A friend proposed that maybe C set up this meeting surreptitiously with the end goal of she and I being friends which is both hilarious and not as far fetched as I can imagine).
To my great shock, he still paid for everything at the end of the evening. I was surprised since our lounge drink sets came to $60.
He looked at me incredulously when I pulled out my card and said, “I should pay.” (I always offer to split the bill in these kinds of situations and am usually taken up on it).
Whether this is because he is older and in Korean culture the older person usually pays, or because he is the man on a blind date in a more traditional culture, I was grateful. Sometimes it’s nice to be taken care of.
He walked me part of the way home but I’m still hyper vigilant and a few blocks away, I said my goodbye.
All in all it was a relaxing and enjoyable time, and I needed some stable male company.