Chapter 37: Chapter 38: The Feast
I went back to the dorm rooms, gripping the card tightly along the whole way back.
“Sian~” Hainan said excitedly. She ran right towards me to give me a hug.
“Bring everyone to the living room.”
“Huh? Why?” Hainan asked, tilting her head.
I waved the credit card at her. That was all it took for Hainan to run from room to room, banging on doors and hollering at the top of her voice. Good girl.
Everyone finally gathered in the living room. I actually didn’t expect some of them to even leave their rooms. I wonder if their subconscious knew…
“Hainan, what’s going on?” Ji-hyun asked, rubbing her eyes. Sheesh, how much sleep did a girl need?
“Jinwoo gave me his card to treat us to dinner,” I said, waving the card again, this time at Ji-hyun. Well that certainly woke her up. The other members heard and stared at the card in awe.
“But, Sian, are we the only ones going?” Yoo-young asked.
“I think we should. If we try to gather the members from the other dorms, it will take too long. And if we add them up as well, won’t it be too much?”
The first part of that was sincere. The second part, not really.
“That’s true. Let’s go. I’m so hungry.”
“He told us to eat as much as we wanted, so let’s do that!”
We all hurried to get dressed and then came back to the living room. Now we just needed to choose what we were going to eat.
“So what will it be?” I asked.
“Nah. Too boring.”
Pork belly was out.
“We had that yesterday. Pass.”
“Chicken and beer!”
“That’s boring. Next.”
“Sweet and sour pork!”
“Korean fast food?!”
Everyone’s choices were so boring. Then again, I guess as a trainee, going out alone was a treat.
Yoo-young and Ji-hyun started suggesting their favorite restaurants, but none of them sounded appealing to me. I have the card so my vote counts the most.
“Hmm…I hear you guys, but…how about sashimi?”
“Sounds good!” Everyone agreed instantly.
“No one here’s allergic, right?”
Everyone looked at one another, wondering who would be so unfortunate. Luckily, there was no one. We could all eat sashimi. And no one seemed concerned about the price either.
I led the girls out of our dorm unit. We made our way to the nearest sashimi restaurant.
We all put a bunch of tables together in the middle and sat around them, facing each other. Heaping mountains of flatfish, rockfish, and red snapper were laid out on the table, surrounded by sides and garnishes. It was beautiful. There was parboiled octopus, sautéed octopus, spicy Pollack, fresh octopus, and even fresh kimchi. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. The spicy stew was just the cherry on top.
“Chopsticks at the ready.”
Everyone lifted their chopsticks.
“Get in position.”
They positioned themselves to lunge for the fish.
Everyone stuck their chopsticks into the platters.
At my words, everyone picked up heaps of fish and began eating. Some put the fish on sesame leaves and put on condiments before eating them in one go. Some dipped them in soy sauce. Others, in dipping oil. Some simply ate the fish by itself. If it were up to me, I’d take the whole thing with both hands and eat it all, but I knew that that would be unsightly. So I simply picked up the slices and stuffed my mouth, no sauce or anything. No sesame leaves for me. No dipping sauce either. I wanted to enjoy the taste of the fish with no distractions. Jia, on the other hand, preferred hers with both soy sauce and soybean paste.
“This is really good as well.”
I took a piece of parboiled octopus and ate it after a generous dip in soy sauce. Wow, this was good.
“Sian, this is really good too!”
Jia fed me a piece of fresh octopus dipped in oil.
The eel and broth came out soon afterwards, and we all enjoyed eel dipped in broth. The broth melted into the eel and I popped each piece into my mouth.
There were no words that could describe just how heavenly everything tasted. Though I must say, I didn’t really see the point in eating eel. It’s not like I could use the vigor it would give me, since I’m a woman now. Ugh, this sucks.
The food disappeared in about five minutes.
“Are we already done?” Ji-hyun asked, sucking on the ends of her chopsticks. She looked almost…disappointed.
“That wasn’t enough,” Yoo-young said with the same expression. To be honest, there had been enough. It’s just that we ate a lot so quickly. Especially me.
“We can just order more.”
I held up the card and called the waiter over.
“Excuse me! Could we add another grand platter please?”
The waiter called out to us.
“But, Sian, how much is the grand platter?”
Everyone gasped at that. One grand platter costs 120,000. Since we ordered another one…it’s 240,000 total.
“If it’s still not enough, just tell me. We can always order another one.”
Upon hearing that, the girls began to look uncomfortable.
“I feel guilty….Maybe we should stop eating…” Yoo-young suggested.
“Jinwoo didn’t tell us to feel guilty. He told us to enjoy ourselves.”
Okay, so, he didn’t exactly say that, but still. Anyways, it worked. Everyone looked excited again and didn’t hesitate to dig in when the second grand platter was brought out. We cleaned out two grand platters and added rice to our hot stew, finishing that up as well. That’s how the first round ended up costing 480,000 won. We headed out for another round. Next was spicy galbi. We ate about 300,000 wons worth of food there and for the third round, we hit up a cold noodle restaurant. The fourth round was dessert and the last round was at a café. We spent a few hours chatting away there before heading back to our dorms. On our way, we hit the convenience store and bought a ton of snacks.
“If we spent just 300 won more, we hit 1 million.”
Jia placed a pack of 300 won bubblegum on the counter, bringing up the night’s overall total to a million won.
But, to be honest…I was still hungry…
It was Monday. The day of the online voting results and evaluations based on our Saturday mukbangs.
“Sian, congratulations,” Jia said as she came out of the bathroom. We were all in the waiting room. We still had about half an hour left before it was time to film.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re ranked first.”
“Oh, thanks. Yeah, I know that.”
It was true. Following the incident in Hongdae last Saturday, I was immediately hit with online votes. By Sunday night, I was first. One thing I noticed was that there were a lot more female fans than male fans. Probably because I was giving off that girl crush vibe. A caring older sister who can fight. Someone who is protective and trustworthy. Not to mention, pretty attractive on top of that. These are the type of girls other girls like. And of course, I’d prefer more female fans anyway.
“I’m so happy,” Jia said with a bright smile.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re in the top 8 now. That means, the chances of us debuting together is pretty high.”
“That’s true,” I replied with a nod. That was another good point. If I kept going at this rate, I would definitely qualify to become a member of Lovely Girlz. But is that a good thing? What would I get from that? Money? I mean, yeah, money is good. But aside from that…I can’t kiss a girl if I want to, I can’t lay with a girl if I want to. That’s a raw deal if you ask me. Guess I’ll just use that money to eat whatever I want.
“What is it, Sian?”
“I need to return Jinwoo’s card.”
I got up from my chair and left the waiting room. I made my way to Jinwoo’s office.
At Jinwoo’s permission, I opened the door and walked inside. Jinwoo was the only one inside.
Jinwoo gave me a smile as I walked in. But it looked rather cold. As if I’d done something wrong. So I gave him an extra respectful greeting in return.
“What is it?” Jinwoo asked.
I held out his card.
“Thank you for your card. We ate really well last night and we really appreciate it.”
“Yeah. It really seems like you guys had fun last night.”
“How do you know?”
“I get text alerts whenever the card is used. I got so many texts last night, I almost wondered if my phone was broken,” Jinwoo replied, again with a bright smile. Though the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Oh, I see.”
Damn. If I’d known, I would’ve used it more.
“You did say you wanted us to have a nice meal…did we use too little? I’m sorry. Next time, we’ll spend even more.”
“Okay. You sure are sweet.”
“You’ll let us borrow it again, right?” I asked with a bright smile. Jinwoo took his card and – quite obviously – snapped it in half.
“Oh no. It broke. What do I do? Why is this card so flimsy?”
“You don’t have another card?”
“Sadly, no. I only have this one. I guess I’ll have to apply for another one, but it will be some time before I get it.” Jinwoo is such a bad liar.
“Then I’ll wait for you to get another one. Don’t worry. We have lots of time. And next time, we’ll eat more and make you really happy.”
“Yeah, sure. Go ahead and shove…I mean, eat as much as you want. Hehe.”
Suddenly, Jinwoo stood up.
“I have to get ready for the evaluation. I’ll see you later.”
I got up and left.
Jinwoo. Just wait. I’ll suck you dry and leave you penniless.
The audition started. Chairs had been placed in the middle of the stage and we all took our seats.
“Why did you wear such a short skirt?” I asked, staring at Jia’s exposed thighs. It was so short, I could almost see her underwear peeking underneath.
“I’m wearing safety shorts.”
“Oh, the white stuff is your safety shorts?”
I thought it was underwear.
“Still, it’s way too short.”
“Is it?” Jia asked. I took off my jacket and laid it on top of her tender-looking, snow-white thighs. Paternal instincts. Paternal instincts. Boyfriend’s instincts. Well, that’s me. It’s not just for Jia. I do it for Hainan, Yoo-young, Jumi, whoever. Since a while back, I’ve been feeling more and more protective of these girls.
Jinwoo greeted us. Today, he was the only one at the judge’s table.
We all greeted in unison. The sight of all these pretty young girls greeting him must have made Jinwoo happy, because his face widened into his usual bright smile.
“How was your weekend?”
While the members from the other dorm gave a nonchalant answer, the members from our dorm practically shouted in joy. Basically, the ones who had enjoyed the hearty dinner, courtesy of Jinwoo’s card.
“I figured. Sian looks especially happy about something,” Jinwoo said, looking right at me.
“I’m so happy, I feel like I could fly,” I answered brightly. And as soon as I did, the smile flew right off of Jinwoo’s face, but only for a second. I don’t think anyone else but me noticed. It was really only a second.
“Yeah. I’ll bet. I’m sure you’re very happy. So happy that you wouldn’t know if your wings melted off your back and you plummeted to the ground,” Jinwoo said with a blank face. Sheesh. It was only a million won. Lighten up dude.
“Anyways, we’re going to watch your streams today. We don’t have time to watch everything, so we edited them. I want you guys to watch and decide who was the best. Who was the most charming, who would be good for food commercials, and who would be good for future mukbangs. That kind of stuff.”
We all nodded obediently.
“Oh, and I’m sure some of you were wondering why we suddenly decided to do this. It’s very simple. Right now, girl groups are a dime a dozen. There’s a new group pretty much every season. You can’t stand out in thaf using your skills alone. You need to be able to charm an audience and put on a show. These days, the most popular shows are mukbangs and cooking shows. Do you guys get it now?”
“Yes!” We all answered in unison.
“I would really like to see the members of Lovely Girlz on the country’s best and most popular mukbangs and variety shows.”
We all nodded at that. And suddenly, they were all staring at me.
All I had done was shrug.