"When's checkout?" I ask. "Noon, I think," Erin replies. She's standing over the little sink in the corner, brushing her teeth. Then she gives me a look. "Why?"
"No reason..." I say. I lean over to check the time. Only ten. I reach for the remote.
Erin catches me in the mirror. "Seriously? You're going watch TV? We're in Seoul!"
"This isn't just TV. This is Korean TV. There's a difference."
I hit the power button. A burst of laughter and rapid-fire Korean assaults us. There's a game show on. Two teams are competing to do something unpleasant and crazy. It is vapid... and somehow engrossing.
Erin walks over, toothbrush dangling. She watches the antics, then shakes her head. "Why are they doing that?"
"I have absolutely no idea."
I change channels. K-Pop blasts. On screen, a group of gentlemen in silly costumes do various survivor-style challenges.
"I think they have game shows on every station," I say, hypnotized. "And they're all awesome!"
"At least find something sane."
I snort. "That would be missing the point, Erin."
She sighs, gives me a look. I change the channel.
An arena comes on. There's a three on three match going on what looks like a volleyball court. I'm, squinting, trying to figure out what game they're playing, when one of the athletes launches himself feet first at the net. He axe kicks a tiny ball into a power slam that thunders towards the other team. They all then flip upside down, legs flailing in gravity defying antics to try and kick the ball back. It looks like someone crossed a Bruce Lee flick with a game of volleyball.
"Sam, I asked for something sane," Erin says.
"Oh, come on! Sepak Takraw is a legitimate sport!"
"Yes, and it is really cool," Erin concedes, "But it's maybe too intense for a Sunday morning."
It's my turn to sigh. "Fine."
I flip the channel again. A voice drones from the speakers in somnolent Korean. Then the image snaps up; it's a baseball game. On the billboards in the background, I can see ads for Hupy and Abrahams Law Offices and Brigg's and Stratton. The camera scans the crowd, pauses to linger on a line of beer-and-brat-fed faces. They grin with shiny red cheeks, and English flashes across the screen, "The waitstaff for this game's featured Tavern for South Eastern Wisconsin."
My mouth falls open. "Erin... Erin come here."
She'd gone back to her dental routine. "What?"
"Seriously... Just come here."
She walks over until she can see the screen, just in time to catch the Brewer's pitcher setting up on the mound. A batter for the Pirates is waiting, taking a few practice swings.
Erin stares. "Sam... there's a Brewer's game on."
"Oh good. I'm not hallucinating."
"No." Then she gasps. "Is this... is this live?"
I blink. "Oh wow, I think it is!"
We sit and watch, all other tasks forgotten. After a trio of outs, the teams retreat to their dugouts. The camera shifts, and I see the iconic sausages jog onto the field. Bratwurst, Polish, Italian, and Hot Dog line up to race.
It is a little after 10 on a Sunday morning. We're in a motel room in Seoul, South Korea, and we're watching the sausage race at a Brewer's game.
I swear that sometimes this modern world is awesome.
PS. Koreans have a strong baseball tradition and some really good players... good enough that every once in a while one will be drafted by a Major League team back in the US. When this happens, folks here go a little crazy, buying up the rights to all the games just so they can broadcast them locally. Which is why when Pittsburgh hired Jung-ho Kang, Korea instantly became Pirates fans, and we got to watch a Saturday night game live on Sunday morning.
PPS: Running Man and 2 days 1 night are wildly popular variety shows in Korea. So much so, one or the other is always on whenever I turn on the TV. We have sampled both, and have to say that Running Man is our favorite. There's just something about the crazy costumes.