Sunday, January 09, 2005

Korean bbq lunch

It is insane, what they do is have a hot sizzling grill at your table and you go get the raw meats and cook them yourself. I went down to the Coriya Hot Pot City (yeah, the spelling is unusual) with Ray and Pat today to have dudes' lunch and it was some grub. As usual Ray bought us all big Tsing Tao beers and we got kind of nutty before the grill heated up. He dared me to go get hot dogs and buns from the grocery next door and I was like oh no crap dude I can't do that, they will hell of kick us on the tuchus, straight to the gutter. Ray don't stand down from no idea after a few O-Zs though so he went and picked up dogs and all the fixins. When he busted back in he started grillin' it all up and asked the waiter if he wanted to get in on the action. I was freakin' out because lunch was $14 each (you pay up front) and I didn't want to get it on the ear.

Damn but I guess since it wasn't crowded (we eat late) the dude was mad down for a break from wiping off grills. Ray ordered a big Tsing Tao for the guy, from the guy, which took a little while to get across, but then the dude came out with it and started cooking up a dog. Ray gave him his leather Raiders cap and he put it on backwards. He didn't speak too much English but with some more beers it didn't matter, he was mad laughing and daring Ray to eat all kinds of the weird seafood and organ meats from the meat bar. Ray ate something that looked like an empty finger, a round white ball that he said tasted "absolutely awful," and this weird little fish with big orange egg sacs hanging out of the bottom part where the fish pees from. Every time he ate another weird thing the waiter would laugh and pound his open palms on the table, and pretty soon the other waiters and even the dishwasher were out, throwing different meats down on the grill for Ray to eat and betting money on whether he could gag it down. Ray was performing like a champ, just getting the runtiest and most discolored tubes and ligaments down, and the crowd was going wild. Beers were set down in front of us from out of nowhere, and I saw a couple guys in the crowd taking gulps from this jar that had a rattlesnake in it.

At the height of the excitement this ancient Korean dude in huge sunglasses and a three-piece suit kind of drifted up to the front of the action, and he had a ceramic bowl with a lid. It got real quiet when people saw this guy, and all the money stopped changing hands. Ray sucked a big gulp of Tsing Tao down and looked around, confused by the silence. Then he spotted the guy and the bowl, looked coolly at him for about five real tense seconds, and nodded resolutely. The crowd went mad, waving money around like crazy, and the ancient Korean dude smiled with a barely perceptible thinning of the lips. He set the bowl down on the table and put on one thin white cotton glove. The crowd grew silent again.

He took the lid slowly off with his ungloved hand, set it down, and then reached into the bowl with his gloved hand. Out he pulled a tiny little live baby bird, without even any feathers, squirming and squealing like crazy.

All eyes were on Ray, and he didn't change his expression for about a full minute. I'm not really sure he knew what he was supposed to do with the bird, but when he tied his napkin around his forehead like a bandanna the place went nuts. The ancient man walked over, motioned for Ray to open his mouth, and when he did, the man gingerly pushed the squealing bird down his throat with one finger while a waiter set a little glass of the snake liquor down. Ray took it with one shaky hand and drained it. Then the little man leaned over and whispered into his ear, "Now you know what it is, to have death inside you." He patted him on the shoulder and disappeared into the crowd with his bowl as they erupted into deafening applause, hollers and fist-pumping.

Ray didn't say much as we paid and left, and when we got out to his Escalade we realized that he wasn't well. It was like something had cracked inside his brain, and when I tried to check his pupils he fell down onto the curb in a trance. We rushed him to Dr. Andretti's and explained what had happened, and Doc pumped his stomach. Ray's there overnight for observation and I'll go check him out tomorrow. He might need some kind of therapy after a lunch like that, and sleeping pills at night. I know I ain't goin' nowhere near my pillow. I got a hot pot of Joe here and a big old list of code I been meaning to work on.