We survived our annual home invasion.
It’s not your typical B & E. Oh, some things are the same. Like people in your house uninvited. But instead of taking things, they bring things.
Our vice principal and nine Korean co-teachers invited themselves over for our annual house warming about a week ago. We’ve been avoiding it like the plague for months now. Hoping they would just forget about it and bother another white person.
But, alas, they forced a date on us. We are coming this Thursday.
It sounds terrible. You might be thinking, “Why didn’t you just invite them over?”
Well. Mainly because our vice principal is a little creepy, a little too invasive, and weirdly controlling. The last time she invited herself over (last year), she told us not to take Korean lessons, don’t hang out with other foreigners, and then called the international center in town to question them about their organization. She then hung up and said it was not good for us.
Of course this was all through a translator, as she doesn’t actually speak English.
So this time, Whit and I made our stomachs ache just thinking about what she would possibly say this time. What if she found out about our (gasp!) foreigner friends? Or the months of Korean lessons we took despite her advice. Or that tree we took from an empty garage next door?
Our nine co-teachers don’t like the annual event any more than we do. Before the vice principal arrived at the restaurant for dinner (the pre-house-warming dinner), they fought over who was going to sit next to us. No, not because they like us. None of them wanted the dreaded chair between us and the vice principal.
After the rough start, the one who was trying to get the farthest away actually was called on to sit in The Chair. I laughed in my heart a little.
After an awkward dinner of silence broken by occasional questions about how much we really like Korea, we finally headed to our apartment.
If you think hosting your boss and colleagues back home is rough, imagine this.
“She wants to look in your refrigerator.”
“Your fish looks lonely.”
“Who is that in the picture? And who is that? And that? And that?”
“Where did you get that large door on your wall? THE TRASH!!!????”
“Did you make those Christmas stockings?”
Meanwhile, in my head: Please don’t ask about the tree we stole from that new apartment’s garage. Really. It had been sitting out for a month before we took it. Unwatered and about to die. I know it’s worth a lot. Please don’t ask.
It wasn’t all bad. Despite their microscopic glances into every possibly crack in our apartment and lives, they did come bearing gifts. A 10 kilogram box of oranges, enough toilet paper to get us through spring, and enough Kleenex boxes to get us through every cold we come down with until death.
We often tell people that living in Korea is like being a movie star. People want to take your picture, glance at you with adoring eyes, and follow you around. But other days, it’s like you are an animal in the zoo. You are funny-looking, sometimes frightening, and fun to poke at.
Well, today we were animals. And our zookeeper had to stop by the monkey cage, giggle at us, and then make sure we weren’t throwing poo on the walls.