You know that in Korea honor and respect are everything. Someone asking permission to touch you, even with just a touch on the arm to get my attention is still unreal. It was more likely that you would see guys hold hands, hug, or even snuggle with other guys. Females did the same; it would not have seemed strange in America in grade schools where girls often held hands as they walked around and hugs were an accepted greeting to many.
“Yes, I am comfortable, no apology needed.”
“Good. I wasn’t about to apologize and that would have created a problem.”
“Weren’t going to apologize? You would disrespect me?” This conversation was starting to get confusing. You begin to wonder how you had offended this man that he would think it nothing to disrespect you.
“No Noona, never. However, I will admit that I like touching the softness of your skin. I have been wondering what it would feel like. Learning you over this past week has told me that your inside and outside match. You are a very beautiful woman.”
Ten years ago you might not have been shocked by this compliment. It would have made you younger and made him an Oppa. But you aren’t a 25 year old anymore; and while you hope you're aging well, it is confusing to receive compliments from someone not only younger, but who is constantly surrounded by gorgeous Asian women. You remind yourself that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and beautiful is more about how you present your true self.
You know you aren't a beauty. You learned that the hard way many years ago; however, you do take care of yourself, so your body is curvy yet trim, lack of heavy make-up allows you to look at least a few years younger than your real age. Still, it is a nice, if not a totally unexpected compliment.
By the time we arrive at the venue, the line is already two blocks down the street. The amazement must have shown in my eyes as Ae pats me on the back,
“Aren’t you glad they aren’t here for you?”
He had no idea and you want to keep it that way.
We were all escorted through a back entrance to a large room with mirrors, and chairs. All of the groups entourage fell into place and started prepping the idols for the meet and greet. A few small cameras that you have seen many of the idols holding, showed up. Conversations and comments, aegyo all over the place as they filmed the behind the scenes for their fans. You made sure to be scarce and not accidentally or otherwise caught on their recordings. Thirty minutes after arrival the group is led down a red carpet that wrapped around a large sign for their coming out mini album. A long table with chairs sits in front of the sign, the table using name plates for each idol. You turn away to hide your smirk when the guys sit down as they walked out. They pick up the name plates and swap them with each other. Off to the side, on the very end of the sign you find a nice, quiet, mostly unobserved spot where you can people watch and take notes.
Five minutes before they remove the ropes to start the line, Tong makes his appearance. He's followed closely behind by none other than Mr. Kim. Cheers erupt for the second time as Tong finds his seat. Mr. Kim bows to the fans, speaks a few words introducing the group and the meet and greet gets underway.
You had hoped to have gone unnoticed but no such luck. After dropping the rope, Mr. Kim makes a direct line straight to where you are hunkered down behind all the action. You quickly stand and bow to the man who has made all this possible. He bows back with respect, clasps my hands in his and pulls you into a hug. You can hear a few gasps and know that your face is once again the color of beets. Mr. Kim had not been in town since you arrived, his family emergency taking more of his time than he thought. No one in the group expected that you knew Mr. Kim that well; therefore, many eyebrows are raised by the members at our contact.
Not only did Tong quirk an eyebrow but you can feel his eyes on your. He appears slightly shocked at his mentor and your greeting but thankfully, the fans come first and all of their attention is called back for them to do their job.
Around the end of the signing, as you are busy writing parts of your story, a quiet voice says, “Excuse me?”
You look up to find one of the fans shyly standing in front of you. You think perhaps she's lost.
“Hi, can I help you?” you respond in English, hoping she spoke more than excuse me. “Yes, you please, you sign for me?”
You shake your head, “You must have me confused with someone else, I'm not an idol, I’m a writer.”
You turn your laptop so she can see what you are actually doing.
“I know who you are,” she smiles.
Your blood freezes and you question how smart it was to return to Korea. She pulls out her phone, scrolls and turns it towards you.