Today I bought a writing desk and a cooking desk. The writing desk is a 100 cm bit of cedar. The cooking desk is a 80 cm bit of cedar on top of a 70 cm bit of less than cedar in which there are doors and one shelf. The writing desk will be for writing. The cooking desk will, actually, not really be for cooking so much as chopping things, storing things, and taking up space in a hopefully pleasant way.
I paid 200,000 won for the pair, which equates to somewhere around $180 ish dollars. They gave me a deal because I live down the street.
It happens that in my neighborhood of Seoul there is a Furniture Arcade. Quite convenient, really.
The shop I visited was mid-way up a hill, and more or less the size of a small walk-in closet. It was run by a man and woman who were married.
The woman spoke very good English. The husband drew very good sketches of what my furniture would look like as per my desires as translated by his wife.
When the wife asked if I'd like a sheet of glass on top of my writing desk, I said no, I like the feel of the wood.
To which the wife said, we are the same.
When I asked her how she knew English so well, she said she had a passion for English. She did her thesis in college on The Great Gatsby. She's a fan of Dickens, even though his stories are not happy. "Most of my favorite stories aren't happy," she said. She is reading, right now, though, a book called The Little White Horse which is a children's book recommended by J.K. Rowling.
After the purchasing was done, the husband played for me "Amazing Grace" on his violin and also something Korean on his traditional Korean instrument that looked kind of like a flute, or a clarinet, in that it was long and had holes in it, but really it resembled nothing so much as a piece of bamboo in which someone had cut holes. Maybe this is what it was.
"The sound isn't good," the wife said. I think she was right. But it was still nice.
We also drank some Makgeolli together, which is a traditional rice wine.
"We don't do this normally," the wife said. "It's just that feeling that you've known someone for a long time even though you only just met."
We had our drinks and music in the furniture store, surrounded by desks on which were piled bookshelves, on which were piled smaller bookshelves. On some of the shelves were English books such as The Grapes of Wrath which the woman said she had read ten times. For comparison sakes, she has read Pride and Prejudice only three times.
I asked her if she had always lived in Seoul, and she said yes, that in fact she had always lived in this area. She said she was too timid to leave. That books were how she escaped.
She only just came to work with her husband two months ago to help pay for her son's tuition. He's studying to be a musical actor. Their daughter may end up doing something similar. She practices singing all day, the husband said. English songs. All day.
Earlier, when I had asked the woman why she loved English so much, she told me it was because of The Sound of Music. She saw it when she was seven.
I think, probably, I will buy more things from them. Maybe some bookshelves. It seems appropriate and also necessary, as, at the moment, my books are arranged into two main groups: one group being stacked neatly along the floor of one room, and the other group being stacked oddly inside a kitchen cupboard.
We do what we must, readers.
p.s. May the fourth be with you.
p.p.s. Could someone get this walking carpet out of my way?