It’s mid-February. Emily and I are poised for a Saturday night of fun when we realize we’re double-booked for Korean karaoke and Kris’s birthday bash. But ever loyal fans of belting bad mid-90s pop in private rooms showcasing porno on their lyric screens (Lincoln Karaoke = best. sheisty. noraebang. experience. ever.), we cab it up to Lincoln Square together and spend an hour with our non-Medill friends crooning ‘N Sync and Coolio and throwing back baeksaeju bombs.
When our hour is up, we reluctantly haul ourselves up from the cheap cracked vinyl seats, hop in another cab, and head south to Lakeview. It’s freezing outside, but the creeper properties of Korean liquor with deceptively low figures for alcohol content and surprising potency are now in play, and we soar along in increasingly inebriated bliss. By the time we arrive at the bar, we’ve thoroughly abused the cab space as a karaoke room of our own.
While we’re paying our fare, chanting Backstreet Boys, our joy is rudely interrupted by a drunken man who throws both passenger side doors wide open. Subzero winds rush into the cab interior and curl around our bare skin.
I’m annoyed, but I try to preserve my elated state of mind. “Excuse me,” I begin, smiling at the man. “I’m sorry, but it’s really cold out. Would you mind closing the doors just until we get out?”
Before I’ve even finished my sentence, the man slams both doors in my face.
Taken aback, but still not willing to ruin a good mood, I wait until the driver has processed our payment. Then I climb out of the car first, since I’m nearer the sidewalk.
When I alight, the drunk glares at me.
“Fucking Chink,” he snaps, not even flinching as he looks straight into my eyes.
I gasp, and my voice freezes in my throat. I’m screaming at myself mentally. Say something back, you retard!
But he’s already moved on. I hear Emily getting out of the car behind me, and he pauses for a second looking at her. Then he takes the hunter stance. “Hey baby, you’re kinda cute,” he says, leaning into her. “Wanna come over?”
“You’re a jerk,” she retorts.
“Whatever.” He disappears into the cab, and I kick myself for not punching him when I had the chance.