Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Soundtrack for a White Moon

An old saying tells us that music soothes the savage beast.  It has a nicer ring to it than "music soothes the slightly off-balance ginger," but that happens to be true, too.  This is a story about a night Engrish, Time Lady, and I spent in Hell.  Not, sadly, the warm-fuzzy kind of Hell I lived in for three years under the devil of an ahjusshi whom I honestly found kind of sexy (and to whom you and I both know I'd probably sign my soul away again if I was given the chance).  No, this is a Hell we unknowingly walked ourselves into.

A week and a half ago the office Go-To Girl (who is amazing and without whom my Big, Fat, Mongolian Student Art Show probably wouldn't have happened) sent around an ad for a special Tsagaan Sar event organized by the Ambassador's Club at the Square Pub.  The Square Pub - in case I haven't told you - is one of those places where you pay for the view.  The food and drinks are alright, but overpriced.  However, every time we go there for live music, it knocks us out.  We saw Arga Bileg play there last Tsagaan Sar and fell in love.  So the fact that folk band Domog was playing hooked us.  I knew we'd seen them before - we went to a big Mongolian concert last spring, and they were among the many bands that played - but I couldn't remember them specifically, and both Engrish and I were eager to hear them again.  Time Lady wasn't so sure, but I talked her into giving it a chance, and by the end of the first set we were all in love (they throat sang "Time to Say Goodbye" later - I mean, c'mon, what's not to love???)

Which is a good thing, because the night seemed doomed to end badly (as in, me with blood on my hands) before it even got started.  I don't know if you've picked up on this from my assorted ramblings to date, but I'm not exactly the easiest person to get along with.  If you're not a total dumbass, or a megalomaniac, or completely incompetent, I can probably sit at a table with you for a couple of hours and get along.  And even if you are, if you have something else to offer, I might be able to manage.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world that I just can't stand, and quite a few of them work at my school.  I don't have the patience to put up with their bullshit, especially after the kind of action-packed six weeks we've just finished.  So when Time Lady said her friends - with whom I can deal on a good day - wanted to sit with us, I was just like, "Eah," and left school with Engrish.  We got to the pub around 6:30, and were seated at the best table in the house.  Which with 8 chairs was one of the small tables set up for the night.  So I texted Time Lady and said, "On second thought, you three go ahead and sit with us."

Seven o'clock came and went with us being the only ones there, and just before Time Lady's entourage got there, two of my favorite - that word should just absolutely drip with sarcasm - people walked in.  I didn't look at them, because I was hoping that the staff at Square Pub would take them somewhere else.  Wild Ass said it best when she told us she'd rather shoot herself than spend an evening with these guys, and here they were, being brought to sit right next to me.  The gag reflex I'd been trying to master since cleaning up vomit earlier in the day threatened to win out.  See, it's bad to be incompetent and megalomaniacal.  It's even worse to be butt ugly (maybe I'm being shallow, but a pretty face will cover a whole host of sins).  There is a small chance that I can forgive a person for being boring, ugly, and stupid, but don't you dare fuck with my favorite students.  So I spent the evening sending Engrish snide texts, not making eye contact, and speaking only when directly addressed.

Luckily Time Lady and company got there before it could get any worse.  When a third group of coworkers entered the pub, there was only one seat left at our table, so we were spared the addition of hokey jokes to the awkward conversations in between unbelievable sets of music.  Which is good, because Engrish might not have forgiven me for abandoning ship.  As it was I was out of my seat saying, "AW HELLS NO," before I could figure out that we only had one seat, and they were three people.

And this is good, because abandoning Engrish would have made me a terrible person.  I'm on shaky enough ground as it is.  One of my many nicknames for Engrish is "Dalai Lama," because she is a trooper - she deals extremely diplomatically with shitty situations and people (I'll let you figure out how I refer to myself, but here's a clue...it ain't Mother Teresa).  So while I was sending her snide texts and ignoring the scary eyes on my right, she was making conversation.  She's good people, and I'm sure there are people out there who say that because she puts up with me.  They're not wrong.

All that said, the music actually made everything worth it.  After two sets by Domog we were blown away by a band we'd never even heard of - Mongolia's first ukelele band, TigerFish.  They were so great that after making cinnamon swirl pancakes for my nearest and dearest I went out and bought a copy of both bands' albums, to which I am listening to it as I type this.  That last post, about where to shop for souvenirs in Mongolia?  I went to HiFi for this music.  You should too.

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