Poor Mother, Poor Sister

Mother called us this morning. She called Good Man’s handphone rather than his laptop, so when the phone was handed over to me, it was one-on-one. (When she calls the laptop, we have it in speaker mode, so Good Man can hear her and help me understand anything.)

I told her I wasn’t feeling well and was getting a cold. She freaked out and told me to get a blanket (이불). I promised I would.

Then she told me my sweater was beautiful and I tried to explain the Sweater Curse to her. The Sweater Curse states that if you knit something for a man before you’re married, you’ll break up immediately before or after you finish it.

I made some really, really convoluted sentence to try and explain it. Mother, who is polite but totally willing to tell me she doesn’t understand, responded with, “Huh?”

I took a deep breath and decided to simplify. But even my “simplifying” wasn’t that great.

“여자친구가 남자친구를?” Girlfriend-subject marker boyfriend-object marker? “남자친구한테?” Boyfriend-to? “남자친구로?” Boyfriend-directional move?

I was tacking every damn marker on there that I could think of, trying to find “for.” Good Man was sitting at his desk, two feet away from me, being of no help whatsoever.

Suddenly the lyrics from 가지마 가지마 popped into my head. I had been wondering was 위해 meant, and Good Man had told me “for.”

“앗! 남자친구 위해?” Oh, boyfriend-for?

Mother said, “어, 어, 어.” Yes, yes, yes.

With that hurdle out of the way, I could explain myself. And she understood me.


Poor Mother. One thing she worried about me before meeting me was that she wouldn’t be able to communicate with me. Sometimes, it’s very true. And even when we do communicate, it’s at my low level of Korean. She’d have a much easier time with a Korean daughter-in-law/living-in-sin-with-her-son-girlfriend.


Meanwhile, on the Sister front, I had some random Crises of Language today about how I should talk to Sister. I want to use banmal (intimate form) because I really like her, but I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable because we don’t know each other well.

Good Man told me to just ask her, so I did (asking her “favor” to speak banmal). But I did so knowing that she’d say yes to banmal because I’m older, which sort of defeats the whole point of asking.

She said yes.

Based on the exasperated look Good Man was giving me, I think he thought I was Crisis of Language-ing over nothing.


Speaking of language, Good Man came up with a good circumlocution today.

“My stomach feels sad.”