There was no door, no gate, and no fence. Nothing was stopping me from strolling through, grabbing a bowl of tofu soup, and taking a seat. I approached the doorframe and scanned inside, desperately searching for my friend who could show me around. Several groups of students milled around, chatting quietly. A couple other people ambled past with bowls of soup and an unfamiliar rice dish. The students’ English mixed with Korean from the movie projected on the wall. I took a step back. I didn’t recognize the movie, the food, or any of the people. Why not just walk away and do something more fun, I thought?
I couldn’t leave my friend hanging, though. A couple hours before, he had been excitedly rambling to me about the video he was making. Would I like to to be in it? He said he needed several people, so he’d be filming at the Asian culture event he was helping with after he got out of a meeting. Plus, there would be free food!
Of course I couldn’t say no to that, so there I was, at the event, and my friend was nowhere in sight. Another person walked past, holding a bowl of the rice concoction. My mouth watered, and my stomach grumbled. Where was my friend?
I decided to casually lean against the wall in the hallway outside the room. Someone walked past and gave me a questioning look, probably wondering what was so fascinating about the white wall I was staring at. Feeling awkward, I pulled out my phone to seem busy. He said he’d be here ten minutes ago, so I texted my friend to see where he was. I caught another whiff of the food. It’s probably for someone else, I thought.
Another person walked past me into the room, giving me an odd look. I flushed and looked back down at my phone, clinging to the side of the hallway like it could camouflage me.
“Enough is enough,” I grumbled. “I’m leaving. He’s late, anyways.”
I took one last longing glance towards the food, and then it struck me: I could just walk in. I stuffed my phone in my pocket. What was I afraid of, anyways? Them throwing me out? I don’t think they could throw me if they wanted to.
I peered around the corner, scouting my options. I leaned into the room. My feet slid back towards the hallway. I steeled myself to try again, but my feet wouldn’t budge. My lips grimaced as I tried to yank myself away from my irrational fear. One step. Two steps. I dragged myself into the room like a marathon runner on the 26th mile.
No applause greeted my entry. The open door behind me gaped alluringly like a magnet drawing me back to the too-familiar hallway. I looked back at the room. No one looked back at me. I gritted my teeth and tried to saunter up to one person I sort of knew.
“Hi,” I mumbled.
Her face lit up. “Hi!” she beamed. “Thanks for coming!”
I was in.
Soon, they had me loaded up with food and sitting in a chair. I was munching on my meal, watching a girl beg the police to release her father in Korean, when my friend finally arrived. We laughed and joked, he recruited people for his movie, but it turned out there weren’t enough people around for his scene. He soon left for another meeting, but I stayed behind. I couldn’t leave the scene of my triumph so soon; a victor must enjoy his victory.
And how was the food?
The tofu was a little scary, and it was all rather spicy, but it was fantastic!