Life, Once Again! - Chapter 447
A soju glass was placed on top of Dalgu’s head as he slept with his front paws overlapping. Despite that, Dalgu did not budge. Following that, a long slice of cuc.u.mber was placed on top of the glass. Dalgu didn’t move even with that.
“He might not wake up even if we build a tower on top of him.”
“Don’t. By age, he’s the second oldest here after me.”
“Dalgu’s that old already?”
Ganghwan smiled and stroked Dalgu’s head.
“I think they’re all done.”
Maru cut the pork belly strips into pieces on top of the grill. He sliced them into bite sized pieces and moved them in front of the elder.
“I guess I’m going to eat something good thanks to Sungjae.”
Ganghwan smiled as he spoke. While the meat was being cooked, they had already exchanged some alcohol, and Ganghwan had dropped the formalities with Sungjae. It seemed that alcohol set the hierarchy straight regardless of era.
“The meat is grilled well.”
“I’m good at that. You should eat some as well, elder. It’s good.”
“Here, you should all receive one from me.”
The elder picked up the bottle of pot soju. It was the Andong soju that Sungjae had bought. When Sungjae was about to kneel to receive a glass from him, the elder shook his head.
“You should be at ease.”
The empty glass was filled with soju. Sungjae poured one for the elder.
“May I say something again here?” Ganghwan said as he raised the glass.
The elder smiled and nodded.
“Sir, please look after your health. I still feel shocked when I think about what happened last time when you collapsed.”
“I can take care of my own health, boy.”
However, the elder, who was also known to be a good drinker, was putting down his glass with a refreshed expression already. If no one was here to stop him, he would probably empty the entire bottle by himself.
“Gosh, that was strong,” Ganghwan said as he chewed on some cuc.u.mber sticks.
Sungjae also coughed. He said that he was confident at drinking, but he probably wouldn’t be able to last long considering the alcohol capacity of the people here.
‘I’m happy that my constitution allows me to drink a lot.’
Being able to drink a lot was a considerable advantage in South Korea. From small meetings to places with hundreds of millions of won lobbying, the negotiation table in this country usually considered soju as more important than doc.u.ments. As the country like the word ‘we’ and ‘us’ so much, it placed importance in a sense of belonging, and the single most effective item to create that sense of belonging was alcohol. Assistant manager Kim might fail to get promoted even though he’s good at work, but assistant manager Park might get promoted because he’s good at drinking.
They exchanged drinks quietly for a while. Sungjae left half of the glass starting from the fourth glass.
“If you can’t drink anymore, then you shouldn’t. Don’t push yourself. That’s the most unsightly thing of all.”
“Maru, there’s cold honey-water on the door side of the refrigerator. Bring a cup of that for Sungjae.”
Since it had been a while, the meat they brought started running out.
“Should I cut up some fruits?”
Maru grabbed the fruit knife after putting the fruits that Sungjae bought next to him. He peeled them before cutting them to suitable pieces and putting them on a plate.
“Here they are.”
He forked a piece of pear and handed it over to the elder. Ganghwan grabbed the part where the seeds were and started biting into it. Sungjae refused. From his reddened face, he looked like he might throw up if anything entered his body right now.
“You should get some water to drink.”
Realizing that Sungjae had reached his limit, the elder did not offer any more alcohol to Sungjae after that. Instead, Maru and Ganghwan’s glasses became busy.
“I told Junmin about it already,” the elder said as he looked at Dalgu.
“Ah, that senior has a lot of dogs at his house, didn’t he? Dalgu, you have it good. There’s a person that looks for your partner even if all you do is eat and sleep. Dogs live good lives.”
Ganghwan woke the dog up and played with it. Thankfully, Dalgu had a calm nature. If he had a bad character, he would probably have started growling.
“I’m going to get some fresh air. With this guy, too. Let’s go, Dalgu,” Ganghwan dragged Dalgu outside.
“I guess it should be quiet now that the noisy kid left,” the elder raised the soju bottle with a gentle smile.
“Don’t you need to go to school?”
“I do. I need to grab the last train,” saying that, Maru glanced at the clock.
“Then stop drinking. I know that you are a good drinker, but you shouldn’t let it affect your studies.”
The elder turned the bottle around and tried to pour one for himself.
“I’ll pour one for you.”
Maru received the bottle and poured a glass for him. The elder put his nose on the tip of the glass and inhaled deeply before raising his chin a little to drink.
“It really is good.”
“I’ll come more frequently in the future,” Maru said, as he pressed on the part between his eyes.
“I’ll clean up now.”
Sungjae tried to help out, but it seemed that his body wasn’t listening to him. After saying that it was okay to Sungjae, Maru cleaned the table. He only left a plate of fruits and took away everything else. He opened the window to let the air circulate a little, when he saw Ganghwan sleeping on the rocking chair in front of the house. Dalgu was on his l.a.p.
As the weather wasn’t that cold, he decided to leave him like that for now.
“Are you planning to sleep here?”
“Since I have guests around, I thought I’d sleep in the living room. Sungjae, you should sleep over as well, if you don’t have any work.”
“I’m okay sir.”
“I saw you bringing a car. Or is it that you have work tomorrow?”
“No, it’s not like that, but I was thinking I was going to be a bother to you.”
“You’re not a bother at all. In fact, I quite like it with all the presences here. Maru, help me out a little.”
Maru received the blankets and laid them out on the floor. Just then, the front door opened and Ganghwan and Dalgu came back. Ganghwan dived into the blanket as soon as he saw them. The elder smiled with satisfaction as though he was used to seeing this before putting a thin blanket over him.
“I wonder who’s going to take this imm.a.t.u.r.e kid.”
“If he ever does get married, I’d feel sorry for the wife.”
Maru lifted Ganghwan’s head and put a pillow underneath. Ganghwan soon fell asleep and started snoring. The elder’s face was full of smiles as though he liked the fact that Ganghwan made himself at home.
“It would’ve been great if you slept here as well.”
“I do need to go to school. I’ll excuse myself during the holidays.”
Maru laid out the blanket for the elder and then for Sungjae right next to it. After hesitating, Sungjae lowered his head at the elder’s gesture before lying down next to him.
“Urgh, I should lie down as well.”
Maru looked at the three people lying comfortable on the ground – well, one of them looked uncomfortable. It seemed that Sungjae had recovered from the alcohol, as he was looking at the ceiling with unease.
Maru stroked Dalgu who came over and stroked his head while on his knees. He probably had ten minutes to spare.
“At first, you know,” the elder, who Maru thought was sleeping, spoke in a low voice.
“I thought acting was something that I was supposed to hide. I found it natural to hide myself and cover myself up with the role I’m playing. But after doing this for a long time, I realized that it’s not that. Acting is, you know, showing all of me. My embarrassments; my rage; my sadness. The profession known as acting is one that showed all of that without falsities. Both of you, become honest with yourselves. Do not put on a lie when you act. It’s extremely difficult to show yourself, but you must understand the difficulty. Do not take the easy route. The easy route, more often than not, ends up being shallow.”
After saying those words, the elder calmed down his breathing and fell asleep. Maru looked at Sungjae who lay next to him. He was looking at the ceiling with clear eyes. Nay, he seemed to be looking at something beyond that.
Maru got up from his knees and bowed towards the elder before putting his shoes on very quietly. When he slowly turned the doorknob, he heard Sungjae’s voice.
“Thank you so much.”
Maru turned around with a smile.
“Have a good night.”
Before he closed the door after leaving, he looked back inside one more time. Was there a better place to learn than this place for someone that does acting? This place was practically the holy land. He received precious teachings after doing some chores. He had benefitted a lot today.
“It’s quite chilly.”
Maru crossed his arms as he started walking.
There were stars in the deep indigo-colored sky.
 Wrap, usually with vegetables.
 It is considered courtesy for the younger to look away as they drink when they drink with elders.
 Soju usually has 25% alcohol content at this time. It started decreasing starting 2006 to counteract the ‘drinking culture’ of Korea, until it reached 17% in 2018.