Stranger, Round Two
I met a stranger, Samantha, in 1992. Over the years, I spent more time with her older sister, Hannah, who is now one of my best friends. I know what you’re thinking. Well, I might know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m trying to recycle old stranger encounters. I’m not, I swear. Bear with me.
I met Samantha for the first time in 1992. She was an adorable little kid. I met Samantha for the second time last week. Samantha has been serving our country for the past 9 years. That girl has been all over the place. I was fortunate enough to spend the day with her and Hannah. It had been years since I had seen her, so it really was like meeting her all over again.
Catching up with an old friend can be like pulling on a favorite old sweatshirt in the first chilly days in autumn, familiar and not-so-familiar all at the same time. She told me all about what is was like to live in Guam and how different life was living in Mississippi afterwards. She described the cadets she was honored to work with in the Air Force and raved about hashing. She went on to talk about the work she was going to do, after leaving the Air Force, in Korea. Her plan is to teach English to Korean students since spending time in Korea a few years ago was so meaningful to her. Samantha’s enthusiasm radiated from her, as she lit up when she described her past, present, and future adventures.
Spending time with Samantha and Hannah was wonderful. I loved reconnecting with Samantha and hearing about how many Cold Stone Creameries are in Guam (not what I was expecting) and about the perils of long distance relationships (exactly what I was expecting). Out of all the tidbits she shared, one stuck out the most, which is the one I’m sharing here. Warning – it’s not at all warm and fuzzy. In fact, according to my American palate, it’s pretty gross.
Samantha schooled me on balut. It was so unappealing, out of all her stories, this is the one that I just keep shaking my head about. I had never heard about balut and if given the opportunity, I won’t ever indulge. Balut is a delicacy in Korea, Vietnam, and other countries in Southeast Asia. This street vendor specialty is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in its shell. You might be interested in this item that is often thought of as an aphrodisiac, but I know that it’s not for me. Samantha’s description, her account of the one and only time she consumed balut, and the images from an internet search engine were enough to teach me to stay away. If I ever visit Korea and someone offers me balut, I’ll know enough to politely decline.