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The conductor has a finely practiced laugh, rhythmic as much as it is villainous. His mad scientist chortling ruptures through the K-Pop music to let us know that, in no uncertain terms, we are about to compress several vertebrae simultaneously. We grip the bottom of our quickly spinning chairs firmly, as if doing so will force gravity to comply to the whims of our white knuckles.

디스고 팡팡- Disco Pang Pang

So named for the pang it puts on one's rectum. That's pah-ng. One syllable is all it takes. The whirling chair slows just long enough for a very informative laugh, followed by a bowel-bopping pang as the chair kicks its occupant into the air.

What is the second pang for? It happens twice--gravity and our white knuckles come to an agreement and are just about ready to settle back down when PANG! the chair kicks once again, with momentum. This motion is done so that riders no longer need to worry about the fine jelly between the ridges of their spinal columns.

He laughs again. We begin to believe that he was meant for this job--to him it is no amusement park ride. To him it is a valid social experiment in which Koreans are assaulted for pleasure and foreigners...

...that's me, flying through the air, casually observing that losing my balance when this wheel of torment is fully tilted against my side, if I am panged at that moment, I become like a frozen chicken fired out of a cannon. I fall clear into the other side of the ride where riders, facing towards me, quickly attempt to get out of the way.

They fail. I take a young girl's knee to my face and still feel the social obligation to apologize through my suddenly bloody teeth. She either won't apologize or can't because she doesn't speak English.

He laughs. He has no name. He is lord of time to a realm of mischief and suffering. His intelligent dark eyes glint belligerently in the dull blue light of his booth overlooking the ride.

I realize then that my jeans are torn. My last pair of blue jeans. I can already feel the sympathetic expressions of my friends. I can already feel the icy heat of my wife's glare later on the bus ride home from Daegu and the weight of the roughly 75 minutes before she will talk to me again (because pants are hard to find). Lying on the rotating nexus of this hell-creature that I decided to drag my friends on for no damn reason, I can feel the comedy spilling out of my wounds and soaking into my clothes. She will not be pleased.

"All you OK?" the commander of carnage cackles. I play dead.

What does the disco mean? It symbolizes many things. The lighting. The mood music. The disco ball sized holes punched into rider's backsides by the violating chairs of a vindictive god.

And, of course, the spinning.


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May 2017

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