The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem. I think we might have a situation.
Somewhere between the attempts of Marlboro to capitalize on the inner cowboy of teenage boys and Abercrombie’s convincing “If you buy our clothes, you WILL end up with a sexy hunk” campaigns, I fell for Starbucks. They’re pretty much equivalent to Big Brother in their grasp of our society, and their [corporate] sins rival those of Charlie Sheen. I don’t even recognize myself anymore! What am I doing amongst their converts?
Everyone has their vices, right? It could be SO much worse. I could be ducking into the clothing racks of Neiman Marcus to dodge the debt collectors. I could be living in an apartment filled with cats! Or even worse, filled with a lot of nothing in particular! I could be a hoarder. No no, I’ve chosen my poison. I prefer a nice deep roast finished with a bit of soy milk. Starbucks’ just happens to be fresher (on this side of the world). And bolder. Crap.
Regardless, the guilty culprit in all this, and thus the one who shall endure the fury, is our friend caffeine. The track of life just doesn’t play the same without a mild case of the shakes and a cupful at hand. I find myself today between a rock and a hard place. And so it is.
I’m not quite sure at what point the addiction began. Maybe it was when I first acknowledged the cool factor of “Don’t talk to me until after I’ve had my coffee (sneer).” How very emo. Perhaps it was in attempts to get the attention of that dark-haired guy from Philosophy? (Aside: HE most certainly wouldn’t have chosen Starbucks! What is WRONG with me!!??) How have I ended up here!?
In all honesty, I think most likely my 6am job in the river rafting industry is to blame. I mean, really I was just being safety cautious. Nobody’s aware enough to heed all stop signs and mind the yellow line at that hour unless caffeine snaps them into action. And the drive to work was AT LEAST 10 minutes. It’s not my fault.
While I’m coming to terms with my existing situation, let’s shift the blame a little and start pointing the finger. Shall we start with sexual predators? Or maybe you’d rather look first to alcoholics? Let’s start with alcohol and save the best for last!
As I’ve mentioned before, this country has quite the drinking habit. There’s nothing like watching your superiors belt out their rendition of “Material Girl” then hang their heads in a drunken stupor. As a friend warned me before embarking on this journey, if you choose to drink with them, be prepared. And after you do, be ready to acknowledge the badge of honor you’ve earned in everyone’s hearts when you stumble into the office the next morning.
Bottles of the spirit of choice, soju, are available on every corner for about $1. With a flavor profile similar to jet fuel, it’s a steal of a good deal. At this point, you may be beginning to understand why I’ve pretty much sworn off the stuff. Seeing as I’ve just signed another year of my life away, however, I’m feeling like I need to give it another chance.
With coffee and addiction drifting through my head, an idea occured to me. A genius idea. I have an old roommate whose mother once sent her a batch of homemade Kahlua. At the time, my roommates and I were battling the post-college blues, and this bottle was something of a savior. It added little drops of happiness to our Sunday cups of coffee and was even better in White Russians. Who knew you could make Kahlua on your own? Reflecting fondly, I thought of it. Kahlua SOJU.
Here’s what I came up with. This recipe is incredibly easy, most ingredients are either on hand or may be grabbed from the corner shop, and it WILL change your life. Nothing like pooling your resources and making lemonade out of lemons. Don’t be shy, you’re welcome to kiss my feet.
3 Cups Freshly Brewed [Starbucks] Coffee
3 Cups Light Brown Sugar
3 Cups Soju (About 1.5 small green bottles. If you’re feeling frisky, go ahead, pour in that extra half-bottle!)
3 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract or 3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Powder (I had extract at my disposal, but you can find the powder at pretty much any Korean grocery store)
Brew coffee, then pour into a pan on the stove top. Add sugar and heat over low-medium heat just until dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in soju and vanilla. Enjoy.
Next, I was faced with the task of determining just how best to enjoy my creation. I could drink it straight (I did.). But that’s kind of boring. I could put it in my coffee. That just sets me up for a double dose of dependency, so let’s evade that one. At this point, my mind drifted to Russians.
As with any country (except for perhaps Thailand, which harbors HOARDS), you can find a few bad eggs here. That’s right, it’s time to discuss sexual predators! Usually they’re found, or rather they find you, at only the most inopportune times. Thanks to a weekly boat from Vladivostok and a shaky economy, Korea has been graced with the presence of a few economic migrants who don’t have English as a native tongue. These migrants count on their curves for job security and apparently are in high demand. It takes only a few days before any light-haired girl receives her first proposition from aforementioned predators. And what a cautious, delicate proposition it is. “Are you Russian..?” Yes, and I’ve been waiting all day to go home with you. Bug off.
Either way, I decided I was onto something with the Russian thing. I stirred in some milk and enjoyed. It was dangerously delicious. It needed a name. As obvious as it might be, what with WHITE Russians and BLACK Russians, I decided to side-step the racial slur. It took a minute, and then I had it. The Russian Hunter.