People always ask me ‘How did you and The Canadian One meet?’, ‘Why is your blog called The Ketchup War?’ and ‘Why is the printer beeping? Can you come fix it?”
To answer that last question first, I have no idea. I’ll turn it off and turn it on and if that doesn’t work, I’ll call IT.
Except it always works. And then people think I know how to fix the printer.
Looking at our beginning, if how The Canadian One and I met was a TV show, it would be full of annoying near-misses that keep the storyline alive and almost-meet-cutes around sweeps week.
How I Met
Your Mother The Canadian One
Season 1: Spring 2008 – 12 Days In And Still Jetlagged
My second weekend in Korea back in May 2008, I got invited to a poker game at my supervising teacher’s home and it was there that I met a long-haired guy we shall dub Drummer-Boy. He had lived in my apartment and worked at my school the year before and was swiftly beating me at poker. I’ve covered my skills (or lack thereof) at poker previously but the fact that he took all my money is not the point here. I liked Drummer-Boy. He was my first new friend outside of my workmates that I had made, he lived an hour and a half away in Seoul and the subject of how his mother made Teletubbies quickly came up.
After a brief chat, we discovered we’d both worked in the same chain of betting shops in the UK around the same time a few years prior. We even figured we may have even spoken on the phone a handful of times as it was often required to call other branches to verify information.
While living in Cheonan, an hour and a half south of Seoul, I had somehow managed to live in a three bedroom apartment alone for the first few months until Em arrived. Drummer-Boy would often come visit old friends (and new friends) in my town and crash in one of my spare rooms.
We would go on to become firm friends, hanging out in his town (Seoul) and my town (Cheonan). He introduced me to his friend H, from Scotland, who would go on to become my travel and touring buddy (and partner-in-crime) in the years to come.
I, meanwhile, would visit Seoul a lot over the next 2 years, sleeping on H’s floor and spending our evenings watching Drummer-Boy’s band, Angry Bear, play in local bars and clubs.
And that, kids, is how I met…your Uncle Patrick.
Season 2: Christmas 2009 – A Trip Back To Cheonan
In 2009, Patrick brought his British friend, Sam, to Christmas dinner at our poker buddy’s home. Both Em and I had moved out of Cheonan by this time – having completed our year-long contracts there – and were living separately up nearer to Seoul. We met up and journeyed down to our old home town together, stopping in at a Burger King for a pre-dinner lunch of burgers and fries.
Now, Sam was memorable for three things:
1. He was also drummer but in a different band
2. He was also British, like Patrick
And 3. He insisted on calling me British for the entire night.
Some weeks later, as I’m leaving a magazine launch party with Em not paying a bit of attention to the band on stage, I suddenly spot my British nemesis from Christmas dinner on stage playing drums with the band. A passing “Hey, isn’t that Sam from Christmas dinner?” and a confirmation that yes it is and we were whisked out of the club and onto somewhere else.
The band Sam was playing with was Bedroom States…
It was their first live show…
And The Canadian One was their lead singer.
Season 3: Spring 2010: An Album and a Retreat
Between March 2010 and April 2010, I would move back to Cheonan and The Canadian One and I would attend two Angry Bear events in small venues and never meet.
The first was the Angry Bear first album launch that I attended with H, maybe Em and my date from speed dating a few weeks before. Yes, I went speed dating. Yes, it was awesome. I’ll tell you about it sometime. Actually, there’s a picture of me attached to an article online written by the guy I went on the date with. However, due to a dispute I had with that publication, I’m not linking to it. The guy was nice though. He was there covering the event for an article he was writing and I ended up dating him for a short period of time. For the record, my dispute with the publication and the non-successful continuation of my dates with my speed-date date were unconnected. That ridiculousness would come years later.
The second event both The Canadian One and I attended at the same time was the following month. H and I had signed ourselves up for a Buddhist Temple Retreat and I was up in Seoul to catch the bus with her early the next morning. The retreat seemed like a really good idea at the time however Patrick’s band was playing a gig the night before and since I was up in Seoul for the retreat anyway, we figured, meh, let’s go.
They were playing in a bar behind a coffee shop with a man dressed as a clown tending bar. I want to say it was 80’s night but it was Korea so it’s entirely possible it was just a regular Friday.
As we were early we went off to play darts in the corner and take advantage of the cheap shots that were on offer that night. The band arrived, we stood around with them for a bit, then went off and danced and hung out by ourselves. We were working on drumming up support for our cause to pressure the band into playing an old song of theirs. We loved the song but they rarely played it anymore as it was several years old (although it would be the last song I heard them play live at our leaving-Korea party). Our plan that night basically consisted of us gathering a small crowd to yell the name of the song at the band during every song interval until our plan worked.
After several rounds of drunk people yelling ‘Clementine’ at them, they caved.
Hours before our tour bus left and we were still at the party. Or rather, we were outside the party on the street with one of us throwing up (H) and the other not helping at all (me). At this point the Buddhist retreat was seeming like one of those plans you make for a Saturday night on a Tuesday but when Saturday rolls ‘round you’re thinking ‘Someone cancel, SOMEONE CANCEL, GOOD GOD PLEASE!!’ so you can just stay home.
But we still made it.
I remember being hungover, wearing inappropriate shoes for a hike I wasn’t warned about and ultimately becoming upset and frustrated during a ‘relaxing’ lotus flower making session.
I also recall eating flower pancakes and no, that’s not a misspelling. I do mean flower.
As it turned out, in that very same bar on that very same night was The Canadian One. He was at the same clown-man-behind-the-bar-show as us and had we hung out with the band more and not been off downing colourful shots and gathering a posse, we would have met.
Season 4: Summer 2010 – The Almost Meet
At the end of July 2010, I had a week off work which coincided with the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in Icheon. H, Em and I all decided we would go and camp for all three days of the festival. We bought our tickets, planned our weekend and I jetted off to Jeju-do for the few days prior and did exciting things like beach drinking and visiting sex parks
When I got back, I was dying of a cold (probably due to the massive amounts of beach drinking I did) and not feeling the tent-sleeping aspect of the trip. I eventually turned up two days late but had missed meeting The Canadian One who’d been there hanging out with Patrick and left a few hours prior to my arrival.
This would also become the weekend everyone referred to as ‘Remember that time Jenny was 2 days late for the musical festival?’
Season 5: Fall 2010 – A Train of Wine & Dance
Skipping forward to November 2010 and Patrick’s band had acquired a fourth member. The fourth member actually joined prior to summer but this was the first opportunity we would have to see them as a new four-piece. When Patrick called to tell me about adding a guitar player, I made fun of him.
“Why would you need two guitar players?”, I said. “Get a keyboard player. Keyboard players are cool.”
H and I were invited to their show and planned to go, however, it did clash with a Wine Train we were going on for H’s birthday.
‘What’s a Wine Train?’, you say.
Well, let me tell you.
A Wine Train is tour-guided day of drinking wine on a train, in a vineyard, at some kinda museum type place and then some arts and crafts to round out the day. It ends with more wine and bad dancing on the train home.
I found out later that in preparation for us perhaps actually turning up for the show, the band had practiced the song H and I loved with the new guitar player. They had fully explaining our peer pressure antics and general ‘play our goddamn song’ mentality to him.
Patrick, however, theorized that we would not make it due to an overabundance of wine and merriment.
Patrick knew us very well.
We didn’t make it anywhere near the gig.
In fact, I’m surprised we all made it home at a decent hour.
Season 6: Winter 2010 – Six Seasons and A Movie
Days after the Wine Train, Patrick announced his band would be coming to my town, Cheonan, and playing at our local hangout. I busied myself promoting the band’s gig. First I made my own tiny poster:
And then Patrick mailed me some ‘official’ posters.
H was coming down too and we quickly made dinner plans for his band and us and another friend. December 3rd rolls around and I arrived to dinner.
At least I wasn’t two days late for a musical festival kinda late.
When I got there, no food had been ordered, only drinks. I sat down next to Patrick, who was sitting next to their new guitarist:
The Canadian One.
I struck up a conversation with the little information I had: He was a guitarist. He was in a different band. Then he joined Patrick’s band. I was disappointed he was not a keyboard player. I thought perhaps I shouldn’t open with that. And that was literally it.
Our first conversation went something like:
Me: “So, I hear they stole you from another band?”
The Canadian One: “Well, no. I’m still in the other band. And in this band.”
Me: “What’s the other band?”
TCO: “Bedroom States.”
Me: “SAM’S BAND?!!”
TCO: “You know Sam?”
Me: “Yeah, he came to Christmas dinner last year. He kept calling me British.”
TCO: “You’re not British.”
We chatted a little about his other band and this new band and then he says: “I was in a band before Bedroom States called Animal Dads.”
And I stopped.
Me: “Wait…what?! I have your album on my iPod….”
And that was true.
As it turns out, waaaaaay back in March 2009 (so over a year and a half prior) Patrick had invited H and I to his friend’s band’s album launch. We went because we’re supportive like that and the bar had a great happy hour deal. Let’s be fair, we were probably more leaning towards the latter reasoning.
We paid to get in, got our albums, drank our drinks, danced our little hearts out and went home. We paid zero attention to the band on stage and moved on with our lives. Back at my apartment the following day, I put my CD into my laptop which automatically copied albums onto my iPod.
And thus I ended up with this album on my iPod.
The band: Animal Dads.
The lead singer: The Canadian One.
After the gig in Cheonan, he offered to buy me a drink for my wonderful ‘postering’ and promoting of the gig. I explained how, due to a misunderstanding, the barman actually bought me flowers as he thought we were promoting my birthday.
I also told him about how I was unimpressed that he wasn’t a keyboard player.
He spoke to Patrick about if I was single and if it was OK if he asked me out.
We chatted some more…
And then later that night….
He asked me out aaaaaaaanddddddd….
Series Finale – Part 1: Winter 2010 – Seoul-Mates
Our series finale, 2-parter episode opens on December 4th 2010 at a train station in Cheonan a mere 12 hours after I declined The Canadian One’s date offer.
Patrick, The Bass Player and I are all catching the same train up to Seoul as I was going work at a music festival for the most of the day and night and they lived there. The Canadian One and The Other Guitarist had left earlier in the morning.
While The Bass Player watched over the guitars, Patrick and I ventured to the ticket line. We were standing in line…waiting…waiting….waiting…and when we got to being the next to be served, an old man cut in front of us like a ninja and was at the ticket desk.
Patrick exchanged some words in Korean with the old man and then sighed, looking forlorn and defeated. He looked down at me:
“I said ‘no, it’s ok, you can go first, that’s fiiiine’ to him but clearly I don’t do sarcasm very well in Korean because he just thanked me.” – Patrick
The next 12 hours would be a montage of me working at the Rubber Seoul 2010 World AIDS Day Music Festival (a festival I would later go on to run for two years). Included would be:
My friend and I modelling the small beaded doll pins we were selling.
Being paid to stop trying to sell tickets to a group of people:
“Stickers are $1? If we pay you $5 and take no stickers, will you go away?” – Guys
“YES!” – Us
Me dressing as a condom and trying desperately not to be knocked over by drunk people.
I can’t find a picture.
But drunk people are mean. They kept trying to trip me up!
I had memorable conversation while handing out free condoms (dressed in normal clothes, my condom-costume hour was up). I hand one to a girl, who turns to look at her date, looks back at me and says:
And hands me the condom back.
And then finally, I vividly remember dancing with my friend to ‘We No Speak Americano’ by Yolanda Be Cool at the after-party and spotting The Canadian One and Patrick standing nearby. The Canadian One asked if he could buy me a drink and I said yes. I told him about my speed dating adventure from earlier in the year and we decided to pretend we were speed dating.
We sat opposite each other at a table.
We took it seriously.
And then we got kicked out of the bar because it was 3am and they were closing so we all headed home in our different directions.
To be continued….
Season Finale – Part 2: Christmas Day 2010 – First Date?
We montage through the next few weeks.
Given the 1.5 hour distance between us, The Canadian One and I would chat briefly and intermittently on Facebook and via text. Then it became less intermittent and more frequent. And then it was no longer brief and no longer intermittent and was pretty much taking up all of our spare time.
And here’s where the coincidental only-on-TV thing happens: The Canadian One was supposed to head to Ireland – where I am from and where he had never been – for a wedding over Christmas while I was off to sunny Malaysia with H for some winter beach time. A misspelling in his name ended with his ticket being cancelled last minute and he ended up spending Christmas in Seoul (while his friends jetted off for the wedding). Meanwhile I found myself in Seoul on Christmas Day to see a ballet and to fly out to Malaysia with H early on Boxing Day morning.
The Canadian One and I had arranged to meet for a drink near where he lived after I had said goodbye to my friends. After a miscommunication about which train station to meet at, we eventually located each other and headed to a bar and then to his place to watch a Christmas movie we’d earlier voted on.
He’d said Gremlins.
I’d said Die Hard.
Clearly we both have the same idea of what a Christmas movie is.
But we watched Gremlins.
He gave me a one half of a small penguin magnet set as a Christmas gift as I’d mentioned my favourite animals were penguins. I put it in my purse and it travelled to Malaysia with me as I flew out the very next morning with H.
He kept the matching one on his fridge.
A year and a half later, it would be reunited with The Canadian One’s penguin and now they live together on our fridge holding up our wedding photo from exactly a year ago today.
It’s funny how some things just work out.