Monday, December 15, 2008

Second Wife/화요일 남편

I met some of Min Gi's computer school friends once before on the eve of a wedding for one of them. It was after a long night of drinking for both their group and my swing club. All of them are older than me (though one by only two months, which makes him the same Chinese zodiac sign as me, but not the same age, apparently), but he's the second oldest in the group, so they all called me 형수님, which means "older brother's person (wife/girlfriend/whatever)."

I nearly died the first time one of them said it. I know in Korean culture it's polite and appropriate, but I don't appreciate being referred to as anyone's person, especially not with the whole complex respect automatically given to age in this country. I told them just to call me Diana. One of them balked at this still, but I think it's just too ingrained into him to be a Korean gentleman. Eventually we settled that he can call me a nickname based off my Korean name, 다인이. A fine compromise.

On Friday, they were getting together again, and Min Gi invited me to go. Since it was my last chance at freedom for the weekend, I readily agreed.

Some of the members of their group who didn't make it out the last time I met them all turned out to be quite fun as well. One of them, who introduced himself as James Dean, took quite a shining to me. By the time we were on the second or third round of soju, I was speaking enough Korean for him to inform me that I would be his second wife (he said that phrase in English, but the rest of the conversation for the evening proceeded in bad Korean--forgive the mistakes below!).

"하지만, 한국에서 두번째아내들 없어요. But in Korea there are no second wives."

"괜찮아요. 당신은 외국사람이예요. That's ok. You're a foreigner!" We all laughed at this.

"아마도 남편 결혼하고 싶지 않아요. Maybe I don't want to marry a husband."

"제발? Please?"

I think about it a moment.

"요리해요? Do you cook?"

He grabs the tongs for the shellfish from the man who had been cooking and proceeds to demonstrate what a fine cook he is.

"청소해요? Do you clean?"

He takes up one of the wet towels we used to wipe our hands before beginning to eat and scrubs down the table.

"응... 아마도 화요일 남편이예요. Maybe you are my Tuesday husband."

Everyone laughed.

It feels so amazing to pull off a joke in a second language... even if your skills in that language are still at a very low level. After that, I was pretty much accepted into the group, and even the guys who hadn't met me before had few reservations about talking to a foreigner in her broken Korean. It was a fine evening.

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