Toto Too?

Haven’t felt much like writing for a few days. I guess it’s because I’ve been writing over fifty student evaluations and coming up with new and creative diplomatic ways of saying, “Your kid’s a pain in the butt.”We had phone tests and lesson plans on top of the evaluations. I finished my last phone tests on Thursday and was working out details on the evaluations with my partner Julie when Eric asked if I had tested Eugene yet because he called the school. Yeah, I had just tested him.

Well, since Eric apparently can’t understand Korean much better than English, it got lost on him that Eugene was calling just so he could talk to me. That was strange. I don’t normally get calls from Korean five-year-olds wanting to talk. Basically, Eugene, I hear, is a kid in a troubled household. And though he’s very smart, he’s a little socially retarded. He just wanted to talk so we could do our little word games in class over the phone. It was cute.

Saturday was Sports Day. We showed up around noon at the school and loaded buses with tables. We headed out to the elementary school, which was right behind my apartment, and unpacked. The event was organized by a professional event company, so, well, it was organized. The parents started showing up, and the foreigners were designated to point the cars to the parking lot. Mr. Min said I was a “handsome man,” so my face should be the first one that parents see.

I was successful in my job except for one car, which just took a right, zoomed past me, and actually drove across the field to get to the parking lot. Say what you will about Asian drivers. Well, just say what you will.

The event started with teachers organizing their homerooms and parents into lines. We did some little dance workout routine, and then the games started with the students and the parents. The parents were very competitive, almost violently so.We finally got a small break for picnic lunches, and little Crystal took my hand and led me to her (single) mommy’s table, where they fed me. Or rather, her mom and I fed Crystal.

Two poor schmoes from the company dressed up as Pokemon characters for pictures. We got our pictures taken with them.

The highlight was the raffle at the end of the day. The grand prize was donated by one of the parents: a 1-million won gift certificate for plastic surgery.

…only in Korea…

I didn’t get to witness the raffle. I had to meet SJ and her friend for a business dinner. So I faked a case of diarrhea and sneaked off to my apartment to clean up. An hour later, SJ showed up, and I got in the car. As we exited my street, we were blocked by Brighton buses just leaving the event an hour late. We ducked down because we didn’t want them to recognize us.

SJ’s friend took us to a trendy little place in front of Hanyang University. We discussed plans for me to tutor her son in conversational English. She then had to leave to catch a showing of “Troy.”

SJ and I went to the same dance club where we first got together. It was fun, but it had lost a bit of its luster from last time. There were men in purple tuxedos bowing to us as we walked in, and the music and performances were good. But I think I just had too much sun. I was exhausted. In between dancing, I’d put my head on SJ’s shoulder. So I guess I wasn’t the best date.

Sunday, SJ’s friend got the idea to get her son and me tickets to see “Troy” at noon so we could meet. So I agreed. My new student is pretty cool. He’s shy and in pre-adolescence. I liked the movie more than I thought I would. He thought it was so-so.

Since we spent half of Saturday in Sports Day, we had half a day off Monday. So we didn’t have to show up for work until 2 PM. I like this schedule. I think we all taught better that afternoon because we were much more relaxed. That evening, Brant and I ate some Korean yakatori (or “chick on a stick”) at a place near my apartment. So I found a place close by where I can eat.

Tuesday was my first tutoring session, and it went smoothly. It’s a bit of a walk, but I need the exercise.

Wednesday I had a dinner date with SJ. She was craving this spicy fish. It was different from other fish I’ve had. It had a chewy texture like fatty pork, and it was good.

But when I start thinking things are getting into a dull routine, something surreal comes my way. Eric has requested that I help these kids from this art school. They’re not just any kids. They’re former inmates in juvenile detention. What do they want help with? Apparently they’re learning the classic ‘80s song “Africa” by Toto. So they need a native speaker to help them with their pronunciation. So Thursday afternoon, I’m teaching Korean juvies to sing Toto’s “Africa.”

My mom would be proud.

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