Prelude: If you haven't read the post before this one, I suggest you do. This is the second half of the previous story.
Our hostess slides in next to me and begins to pour herself a glass of Johnny Walker over ice. It's all starting to come together for me at this point. I begin to realize where we are and what Cats: A CC Bar actually is. We've wandered into a Companion Club (That's the 'CC' part). This is a place where men (and apparently, sometimes women) come so they don't have to drink alone. It's the perfect spot for those of us who don't want to go through the trouble of breaking the ice with a stranger. You can imbibe and be certain a pretty lady will make you feel like she's happy you're there. Just focus on the important side of drinking....the drinking part, the social aspect is provided.
So here we are, in a private booth with a lovely young lady who's job it is to seduce Husband. There's no way to compete with a trained professional who has milky skin a decade fresher than mine. My only hope is to dominate this conversation, take the opportunity to learn as much as I can about her life in Seoul.
Our Companion speaks English but she's insecure about her language skills and admits she doesn't have to opportunity to speak much English. Still, we have no trouble communicating and I'm always impressed about how many Asians speak our language and how few of us speak theirs.
“Do customers usually go through an entire bottle of alcohol in one evening?” I inquire of the process.
“No.” The lovely companion explains, “They leave the bottle here and come back to drink anytime.”
We've since come to learn that keeping bottles is common in Asian bars, but Cats in Korea was the first place I'd noticed the dozens of shelved bottles, all inscribed with the names of their owners. This way, your customer comes back to your bar next time because he already has booze paid for and waiting.
The Companion talks to us about her long term boyfriend who has no interest in marrying her. She seemed fine with that. Also about her mother, described as a raging drunk who cooks excellent, authentic Korean comfort food. Tempting until she insists on taking me to her mother's birthday party as a present, since I “look like Ellen Page.” Far too much social activity for my tastes but we exchange phone numbers anyway, just in case.
We're not coming back to Cats, even though we're already $140 deep into a bottle of whiskey I decide it's time to halt my inquisition because Husband is clearly uncomfortable as well as fading into the Land of Nod.
Bidding farewell to a truly hospitable companion and a half bottle of whiskey, our first night turns out to be the most thrilling night of our week in Seoul. We'd like to return to Korea, not so much for the atmosphere but for the people. All the Koreans we met were nice, thoughtful, helpful and we are interested in learning more about the history and culture of their country.