Our rooftop shindig, primarily for the professors in our apartment building, proved quite fun and featured plenty of delectable edibles. I had the presence of mind to take a few pictures of the group, but failed to photograph any of the food.
The following two photos are of the group. Click on them to enlarge the images; hover your cursor over the pics to read the captions.
This next photo (already large; no clicking necessary) is of Maureen, who didn't get to the party until it was nice and dark out. Hover your cursor over the image to read the caption.
Arranging this party took some effort. I had learned from my mistake with the previous party I'd organized: always pick a weekday if you want to catch the greatest number of teachers. On weekends, many of our faculty are out like a shot, traveling around the peninsula and doing interesting things (not me: I don't have the money to travel; otherwise, I'd be on the road, too).
Settling on a proper date proved difficult. While most of our number said they were flexible, some of us had more specific wishes. At one point, things were thrown off when another event intruded: a hotel buffet that, as it turned out, was scheduled on the day we had tentatively agreed to. We got it all sorted out, though, and the party was fixed for June 25, a.k.a. Yuk-i-o in Korea, the start date of the Korean War in 1950, and not to be confused with the Japanese Yu Gi Oh. I managed to assign roles to just about everyone—several of us cooked; others provided drinks (Team Aquarius, as I called them); others dealt with chairs and tables (Team Reclining Buddha); still others provided flatware, cups, and utensils (Team Leonidas*). It was suggested that alcohol and chairs be handled in a "bring your own" way, so that's what we did.
The food proved magnificent. I had no regrets about missing the hotel buffet, as tempting as that buffet looked on the hotel's website. There was Filipino chicken adobo, a neat spin on beef Stroganoff, a cheese plate with wine, spaghetti and handmade meatballs, and finally, there was my budae-jjigae. I'm not sure that everyone enjoyed the budae, but some people came back to it several times. I also provided dessert: fresh pineapple from Costco, a Costco cheesecake, and Costco doughnuts; the latter were thicker, heavier versions of Krispy Kreme's famous glazed jewels.
Conversation was desultory. Because we were all professors, we talked shop: our good and bad kids, how our semesters went, what future research and career-development projects were in store for us, what sorts of teaching techniques worked and didn't work. We talked a bit about our personal lives; we broke into small clusters and chatted about a variety of different subjects; we quieted down as the sky darkened, and we told silly, morbid jokes from our childhoods. I did my Christopher Lloyd impression, much to the amusement of at least one person. Others of us held the floor with grand displays of comic wit.
We ended up having too much to eat, so when the time came to strike camp, we had to pack up a lot of the food. I got some extra Stroganoff and adobo, and I took back the remainder of my budae, as well as the cheesecake, pineapple and doughnuts. The ladies in our group had done all the heavy lifting: they had brought up the drinks, a cooler filled with ice, and two tables borrowed from a local 7-Eleven, so we guys elected to return the favor by taking the tables back and helping to pack out the remaining drinks and ice. Everything moved smoothly, in a spirit of cooperation and companionship. I think we all enjoyed each other's company and had a good, relaxing time. The weather threatened to rain at one point; a few drops fell from the sky like menacing harbingers, but the clouds were all bluster, as it turned out: no real rain fell.
Unbelievably, the party lasted a good four hours, from 6PM to about 10PM. Some of us drifted away before that time, but most of us remained right up until cleanup. And that was that: we came, we saw, we ate, we talked, we cleaned, we left. Most of us claimed to be stuffed (I know I was); at least one of us joked about how carb overload was leading to drowsiness. We left each other with smiles and thank-yous and other expressions of good will. We're on the cusp of summer vacation, and it would be nice if we could all get together some time before we do definitively go our separate ways, but that may not be possible. So underneath the happiness was an undercurrent of wistfulness, at least for me. If nothing else, this rooftop party will be one of my fondest memories of a year spent in tiny Hayang. My building has some good folks in it.
*Aquarius and Reclining Buddha should be fairly obvious, as team names go: Aquarius is the water-bearer, so it seemed logical to name the drink-providers after him. Statues of the Reclining Buddha show the Buddha lying comfortably on his side (this is actually supposed to represent the moment of his death from food poisoning), so I named the team providing chairs, pillows, and blankets after him. But Team Leonidas requires some explanation. Think of the movie "300," which features plenty of sword-fighting; the sword is a glorified knife, so the team providing the forks and knives (plus spoons, flatware, and hollow-ware) got the name Leonidas. Very associative, I know.