The city lights illuminate the skyline as tables and light conversations are heard throughout the restaurant. A live smooth jazz band is playing music on the little stage in the room, and the lights are slightly dimmed with candles lit on every table. Two people walk in, hand-in-hand, and stop at the reservations stand. After giving the waitress their name, she guides the couple to a booth next to the window that is overlooking the Hudson River and the rest of the city.
The couple, Grace and Jamie, take their coats off; Jamie helps Grace with her coat and places it in the seat next to him. He kindly helps Grace into the booth before he slides in opposite of her. The waitress hands them menus and gives them time to discuss.
Grace: This is… mad fancy. We didn’t have to come here.
Jamie smirks as he opens the menu.
Jamie: A special dinner for a special girl.
Grace smiles to herself and hides her blushing face into the menu. Thoughts are running through her head as she looks at the dishes on the menu. She panics once she realizes the menu is all in a different language. She places the menu down and looks at Jamie, who is still browsing.
Grace: *whispers* Jamie…
Jamie looks up towards Grace attentively. Wow, who would’ve thought a person would drop everything they were doing to just look at her this way? She places the menu down and leams forward to the table a bit.
Grace: This menu is… not in English.
A lightbulb goes off in Jamie’s head; he raises his hand for a waiter and says something in Korean. Grace has absolutely no idea what is going on, but moments later, another menu is placed in front of her, this time in English. Jamie bows at the waiter, and Grace follows along.
Jamie: Sorry about that, I should’ve let them know to bring out a English menu.
Grace: The fact that this place does something like that makes this place 500 times fancier, like wow.
Jamie laughs and his eyes smile along with it. It has become one of Grace’s most comfortable sounds to hear in the world.
Jamie: They are actually based in Korea, the franchise has expanded and I definitely had to try it when I was in New York. Of course, it’s great to experience this with someone though.
Grace: *smiles* Ahh… girlfriend back in Korea was your plus one?
Jamie: *playfully* Are you asking me if I have a girlfriend waiting for me back in Korea?
Grace: I don’t know, I think only the most boujee of men take their girlfriends or wives to places like this.
Jamie scrunches his eyebrow in confusion.
Grace laughs a hearty laugh and quickly covers her mouth to mute the loud laugh.
Grace: No, No, “boo-zhee”, it means fancy and fabulous and like… high class.
Jamie shakes his head in understanding.
Jamie: I would go out with my friends for celebrations and birthdays to this restaurant, no girlfriends.
Grace: Ahhh, no time for a girlfriend?
Jamie looks up at Grace, and Grace immediately wishes she was more careful with her words.
Jamie: Do we really have time to do anything but our work in this profession?
Grace plays with the rim of her drink, she takes in a deep breath.
Grace: You don’t have to tell me twice.
The waiter comes back and asks for their orders. Grace stares at Jamie casually talking to the waiter in Korean and telling her the orders that they decided on. Grace notices just how comfortable Jamie is when he’s talking in Korean. When the waiter leaves, his attention is instantly on Grace.
Grace: How did you learn English?
Jamie: *sarcastically* The same way you did.
Grace: *sucks her teeth* You know what I mean. Like, you live in a country where you don’t really need to know English to get by. But, like, you speak it extremely well.
Jamie: My mother always told me and my older sisters that math is important and every other subject is too, but you won’t get far in life if we don’t study English. My sister decided her life was in Korea and she married young and had kids but for me, I wanted more than just a life in Korea. So, here we are.
Grace: Is this your first time in the States?
Jamie: No, I was in California a few years ago on vacation. But, nothing for business. This is my first business related trip to the States.
Grace nods her head, hands crossed in a ball near her face, elbows on the table.
Jamie: It’s funny, because on my first trip here, I remember carrying a “Korean-to-English” dictionary everywhere I went. Of course, My accent was more apparent a couple of years ago, so you would think the English words I was saying was still in Korean. So many people did not understand me just asking where the restroom was in public places.
Grace: *giggles* That’s… mad cute.
Jamie leans forward with his arms crossed.
Jamie: I’ve noticed that you say that word a lot, and I always meant to ask if you’re actually… mad?
Grace laughs and shakes her head.
Grace: No, no, in this situation, “mad” doesn’t mean “mad”, it means “really” or “very”. It’s not necessarily a part of the English language, it’s just slang.
Jamie: *nods his head* Ahh, I see. So if I say that you’re really pretty, I can just say that you’re “mad pretty”?
Grace’s eyebrows cock up in surprise and without her realizing, her face turns red.
Grace: That’s correct.
Jamie smiles at Grace, and Grace does the same for Jamie.
Grace: Say something to me in Korean.
Jamie: Just anything?
Grace: Well, something that I can use in situations where I’ll need to know Korean.
Jamie: *laughs* How about I teach you how to say “thank you”? For the waitress when she comes back.
Grace claps her hands together in excitement and Jamie just admires the small, excited girl in front of him.
Jamie: Okay, okay. So it’s more than a simple thank you. The polite way to thank someone is “gamsahabnida“
Grace: *blinks in confusion* I’m sorry, what?
Jamie: *giggles* I swear it’s easy: “gam-sahab-ni-da”.
Grace: *sounds it out* “gum-say-hob-knee-da”
Jamie laughs and says something else in Korean, this time in a cute-like voice.
Grace: Hey, that’s not fair, you can’t just say another word and not let me know what it means!
Jamie: *smirks* It means “cute”. Try it again: “gam-sahab-ni-da”.
Grace: *carefully* “gam-sahab-ni-da”.
Jamie: There you go! Now you know how to say something in Korean. I can always teach you more if you’re ever interested in learning.
Grace: *a little flirty* Just tell me where and when class begins and I’ll show up.
Grace’s eyes widen and immediately hides her face in embarrassment. Jamie shyly looks away and his attention us now towards the drink on the table.
The waiter comes back with the plates of food, and before Jamie speaks, Grace bows down and says “thank you” in Korean. The waitress cocks her eyebrows up and smiles, she bows for Grace and walks away. Jamie smiles a huge smile at Grace.
Grace: She probably knows you just taught me that.
Jamie: *laughs* Possibly, but she smiled at you when you said it, not me.
Grace rolls her eyes and starts to eat the food in front of her. Jamie proceeds to do the same. They eat and carry the night eating their dinner, carrying conversation, and having drinks.
The dark apartment lights up and two people walk into it. Jamie closes the door behind them while Grace forcefully takes her heels off near the door. Jamie helps Grace out of her coat before putting it on her coat rack near the front door. He watches Grace walk towards her couch and put her legs on top of the coffee table.
Grace: *looks at Jamie and pats at the spot of the sofa next to her* Come.
Jamie awkwardly stands near the front door, still wearing his coat.
Jamie: Are you sure? How are you feeling?
Grace gets up and walks to Jamie.
Grace: I had 2 drinks, Jamie, I’m perfectly fine.
Grace giggles and takes Jamie by the hand to lead them to the couch. He doesn’t protest; he simply follows her. They sit down as the music playing next door surrounds the room. Grace lays her head on Jamie’s shoulder. Their hands never unclasp from each other’s.
Grace: I really had a good time tonight. Thank you again for taking me out.
Jamie: It was my pleasure taking you out from under your paperwork for one night.
Grace looks up at Jamie, then straightforward. The conversation pauses to listen to the music playing next door.
Grace: Did you think that in your time in New York, you’d be sitting in a woman’s living room, who’s as fucked up as me?
Jamie looks at Grace, confused. She doesn’t budge or look at him; she just continues to look ahead. Jamie doesn’t say anything.
Grace: *pity smirks* The answer is no. Because why would you assume that you’d be caught up with a woman like me…
Jamie: And what type of woman would that be?
Grace rubs her thumb along Jamie’s; she doesn’t say anything right away, but she’s deep in thought.
Grace: The type that doesn’t have her shit together. The one that lives in a one bedroom apartment by herself and not with her daughter. The one that’s 25 and still far along from her career; the one she gave everything up for.
Grace faces is sullen as Jamie never takes his gaze away from her. Grace releases a deep sigh and takes her hand away from his.
Grace: Sorry, I shouldn’t have put that on you–
Jamie: It’s okay. You can talk to me.
Grace’s gaze breaks as she hears Jamie’s voice. She looks at him intently. She looks down and puts her hand back in Jamie’s. He squeezes it in reassurance.
Grace: I’m just not the type of woman you’re supposed to be with. I break things. I break promises.
Grace’s eyes get watery. She widens her eyes to prevent the tears from falling.
Grace: I would’ve gotten married today.
Jamie takes his free hand and lifts Grace’s chin, which causes her to look at Jamie.
Jamie: Hey, it’s okay.
Grace stares at Jamie for a moment before saying anything.
Grace: Say something.
Jamie: *confused* Uhm, uhh–
Grace: In Korean.
Jamie’s face gets closer to Grace’s.
Jamie: “dangsin-eun wanbyeoghabnida”
Jamie cups Grace’s face and gently kisses her. She kisses him back, taking her free hand and runs her fingers through his hair. He pulls away from the kiss and rests his forehead on hers.
Jamie: You are perfect.
Grace looks at Jamie before kissing him again and gently tugs at his shirt towards her, causing him to lean forward onto her as she lays back on the couch. The soft music is still heard playing next door, and the cars on the busy street are heard driving by.