If you asked me a few months ago what I thought of Asia, first I would have looked at you bewildered, then sited something like used-pantie vending machines, really upsetting robots and people marrying their girlfriend pillows. Asia, you so crazy.
Then I moved to Asia. And first I was all, “Hell, it can’t be that weird all the time!”, but then I was like, “….damn, it really can.”
Example: Puppy Cafe.
Hanging in downtown Gwangju one night, another English teacher pointed out an innocuous little doorway off the main drag. The walls and steps within were decorated with cute little paw prints and studio pictures of puppies and kittens in soft focus, romping with balls of yarn or butterflies. “Up there,” the English teacher intoned, pointing, “is a Puppy Cafe.” Megan and I gazed up the stairs longingly. At the top lay something we could only dream of – a wonderland of baby animals just waiting to be loved, just dying to curl up in your lap and let you give them a good scratch behind the ears. (Shut the fuck up. You try living alone in a foreign country for awhile and then tell me just how badly you want a little physical contact and affection.) But we didn’t go in. No, not then, we were too busy. Weeks passed.
It took a few afternoon beers for Megan & me to get the nerve to finally visit the puppy cafe. Buzzed, we wound through the windy and crowded streets back to that half-hidden staircase. Still standing on the street, we could hear the friendly yapping of puppies above. Oh God, this was going to be awesome.
Up up up. A little gate at the top of the stairs to keep the puppies back, 3 or 4 overjoyed little dogs in costumes romping around just inside, alerted by our footsteps, oh so happy to see us – but where was all the cigarette smoke coming from? Not only puppies in the puppy cafe, but patrons, lonely looking girls scattered on couches staring at the white kids that just made an entrance, a baseball game on the TV the only sound above the subsiding dog barks. Megan and I, we’re used to being stared at. Still, there was something odd…something not entirely kind about the girls. Something ugly. But we went in, we paid our 5000 won, put in an order for coffee and settled onto a pair of empty sofas. A small dog had already taken a shine to Megan and jumped into her lap. A pair of cocker spaniels with nice hair cuts and interesting dog bling wandered around my feet. One had a sort of lazy eye I at first found endearing, then worrisome. Some Korean letter had been dyed into the fur of her ass. And then, oh then, she walked out.
“Megan,” I leaned across the table. “These dogs are whores. These are whore dogs.”
Indeed. We’d fallen not into the puffy cotton candy land of sunshine and rainbows we’d anticipated, but a cheap den of overdone and sad eyed hookers. Around us, in their bows and costumes, their braids and dye jobs, the puppies (many breeds, colors and sizes – variety to please even the most particular John off the street) lost interest in us and wandered like lonely drunks to patches of floor where they could actively ignore their clients and try and sleep through the horror of their lives. On second glance, most of the dogs had a shell-shocked look about them – like they’d come from the sale bin at the puppy mill, eyes not quite focused, legs not quite all the same length, horribly inbred, an errant fang poking out from an unsightly under bite.
In the back room, a cat began to scream. Probably having its cheek fur dyed to perfect clownish red circles. At this point my buzz totally abandoned me, destroyed by the palpable depression.
I looked at Megan. It was clear she suffered as well. The dog that had first wriggled its way onto her lap and into her heart ditched her, presumably after not finding any beef jerky in her purse. (Ammarite, gentlemen?) A rangy looking cat in a miniature sweatshirt was running security, doing laps and giving me the eye. “I feel dirty Dwyer, we need to get out of here.”
We sipped our luke warm instant coffee. The other clients tried to tempt the dogs out from under couches. Somebody (canine) pissed on the floor. A boy appeared with a sponge mop and bottle of too-weak sanitizer. There was no end to the seediness. Until someone produced a bag of dog treats.
Dog cocaine. The little sluts.
So anyway, there’s no moral to this story, no uplifiting end. Bitches ain’t shit but hos and tricks and I paid to hang out with a dog that had been tarted out for this purpose. I left the puppy cafe disheartened, once again struck by the brutish world taking a shit on my dreams. And also, Asia is weird as balls. -e