I have discovered (fortunately, not the hard way) that all Korean beauty products have whitening in them. Virginia tipped me off - the lotion, the soap, sometimes even products at the spa - all contain bleach.
Bleach doesn't make me pretty. In makes me pink. Like, boiled shrimp pink.
So, I was more than a little distressed when I realized I've used up half of my supply of soap from home. I use bar soap instead of body wash, partially because most body washes dry my skin, and partially because I simply enjoy them more. I only brought 3 bars of cetaphil (for sensitive skin) thinking that I would branch out and try something new when I out.
Bleach has nixed that little plan.
You can imagine, then, how I literally tripped over my chucks in joy when I saw a Lush store today in Seoul, where I happened to be wandering alone after a wild mis-communication with some new friends. I thought I had been stood up, so I took myself out to lunch to commiserate.
I stopped at an Italian restaurant, compelled indoors by the idea of bread and garlic. In the intimate restaurant, there was one other couple eating lunch, and only one waiter who promptly brought me a basket of (strangely black...) bread and olive oil. After I ordered, that is. Bread doesn't come free here.
I broke open the soft roll and pinched a small piece off with my fingers. I luxuriated in dipping it in the oil. Ah, bread, how I have missed you! I was nearly dizzy with the pleasure of eating it, away from the prying eyes and skinny bodies of my korean co-workers. I delicately dropped the bread onto my tongue, allowing it to melt slightly before slowly chewing.
That's when I noticed the waiter was watching me. Like, full out, stopped working and sat down, staring.
I was told, when I was 13, that I eat like a porn star. I was enjoying a bit of cake. Licking the frosting, nibbling the inside, chasing each crumb with the tip of tongue. I looked up to see one of my friends, completely flushed, avidly following each flick.
"stop eating like that!" she said.
And I did. I mean, it's a little embarrassing when you arouse your girlfriends over the table.
Normally, I don't eat like that unless I'm alone. But I forgot myself somewhere between dipping the bread and bringing to my mouth. After all, I wasn't actually with anyone.
Which also meant, I had no one to amuse me. No one but the waiter.
Suddenly, the desire to eat was matched by the desire to keep his attention. Did I, I wondered, still have the skill to flood someone's senses until their nerve endings hummed, just by eating?
I decided to find out.
I gave what is most likely the most convincing, and yet subtle, performance of enjoyment in my life. Nothing too over the top, mind you - no moaning or anything obvious. I just gave my food the minute attention that it deserved, tasting it slowly, savoring it, consuming it with delicate sensuality.
The waiter could NOT look away.
I sipped my water about every 30 seconds. Each time I put down the cup, I felt him tense a little more, until I (finally) finished it, when he burst over to my table, water jug at the ready.
I almost burst out laughing and ruined the whole thing at that point. I managed to subdue my laughter in a secret smile, which I flashed at him, with thanks.
He looked like he might just keel over.
I chuckled softly into my linguine.
Of course, it wasn't all about him. I was savoring the garlic in the sauce, the freshness of the shrimp, the subtle hint of lemon in the water. I allowed my tongue to puzzle over flavor and texture as I slowly - oh, so slowly - ate my meal.
The waiter had completely stopped working.
I nearly laughed again.
I played this way for about 30 minutes, until the urge to giggle nearly overwhelmed me. I was full anyways, so I went to pay.
After I handed my money over, he asked me, as if he couldn't help himself:
"Was it good?"
My answer came out a little breathy. Mostly, because I was trying not laugh again. "Oh, yes." I said. I smiled one last time, then left with his eyes still on me.
The meal actually wasn't that good, but he was an excellent audience, and a nice sop to my ego for having been abandoned. The giggly feeling last about ten minutes before I was bored and sulky again.
Then, I saw Lush.
In a further effort to boost my spirits, I indulged myself by purchasing a 200g bar of sea vegetable soap. The salesman looked hurt.
"Not 500?" He said. "Then you get a discount. Today's the last day."
Considering that the soap bar was as big as my fist, and cost about $15.00, there was no way I was going to buy DOUBLE just to get 10% off. No thanks, those numbers don't sound good to me.
I was 5 steps out the door when I doubled back.
"Does this have whitening in it?" I asked the only English speaking sales guy.
He shook his head, sadly. "No," he said.
THANK GOODNESS. Yep, I said that out loud. He laughed, and waved goodbye to me as I left.
Now, my whole bathroom smells like sea vegetable. And lime. And lavender.
In a word? Delicious.