Lindsay here. Whit and I just returned from dinner with the other English teachers, all Korean and all women.
We weren’t looking forward to it, a planned birthday celebration for one of the teachers who goes by the English name of Angel. We really like these teachers, but since they don’t speak fluent English, and, well, we barely speak two words of Korean (hello and thank you), we don’t have a lot to say to each other.
Whit wanted to take advantage of our short day at school with a long afternoon run. I did too. But we knew we had to be social, especially when it could be another experience where we could learn what’s what in another restaurant.
It started with a bang. Literally. Moon, one of the teachers, told us all to get in her car at the elementary school parking lot. Five of us piled in to meet the other half of the group there. It all happened so fast. She threw it in reverse. Whit screamed. And then BANG. Right into a large SUV. It made my stomach hurt like the times I have rammed into another vehicle (though I would like to take a moment and say at least I hit moving targets. Well, except for that run-in with the house. But that was Dad’s fault.)
We all get out of the car. Korean words are flung here and there like fast Frisbees. Eventually we find the owner of the car. I think I recognized her as one of the cafeteria ladies. She smiled, waved it off, since it barely left a scratch in her car, though it did take a chunck out of Moon’s car.
The woman smiled. I could tell it was OK. Moon bowed to her. And we were off.
We met the rest of the group at a fusion Japanese/Korean restaurant. No sushi, unfortunately, but we did have some good food. Couldn’t even begin to explain it. But it was good. Meat. Green things. Rice. Kimchi. Orange juice.
The dinner didn’t start out so well for Whit and me. Whit kept looking out the window, wishing he were running. I kept looking at the other teachers, trying to understand why they wouldn’t at least try to speak English to us. It can be very frustrating.
But then Grace arrived. Literally. She is sweet, thoughtful, inclusive and everything an elementary teacher is supposed to be. For those of you who know Beverly Power, Grace is the Korean version. She asks questions, makes you feel welcome in strange situations and smiles a lot.
Despite her rusty English, we talked about our marriages, our lifestyles, what we eat for dinner, what we eat for breakfast, what we think about Korea, America, and the little customs that we both share.
Angel soon joined her, gaining confidence through Grace to speak English to us. We laughed a lot and learned even more. And get this, the birthday girl paid for the whole meal. All twelve of us.
And by the end of the evening, it came out that these woman love Whit. OK, not love. They adore him. And Ritchie, if you’re reading, get this… They said he looks like Brad Pitt.
Whit ate it up, posing in pictures with each and every one of them as they giggled, smacked their hands in laughter, and asked me if they could put their hands on him.
Moon told him later, “All the teachers think you are good husband.”
And I have to say, I agree. There’s no one else I’d rather live with on the other side of the world. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he looks like a movie star.