Man: You know, I wish I had been on a bad date, so I could know what it feels like for a girl to not like you.
Woman: Ung. [Eyes rolling]
Before taekwondo tonight I did 500 turns of the jump rope. A fantastic warm up, I made it to 453 before tripping. Ahhh, so close. Then Kwanjangnim (New Master) made me run warm ups for the class. First time I’ve ever done that.
I called the dentist to see if I could get Good Man an appointment at the same time I have one on Wednesday. “First name… and same last name?”
One of my students asked me if she was going to have to call me by a new last name. “No, I’m keeping my own,” I told her. I didn’t tell her my first name with his last name makes a great stripper name.
In Korea it’s not traditional for women to take her husband’s last name. In fact, Good Man’s not even sure it’s possible. So when I asked Good Man if he wanted me to take his name, he looked at me like I was nuts. (Which is good, because I wasn’t going to take his name in any case.)
A few weekends ago Good Man and I worked on ordering our Quaker-style wedding certificate. We were reading on the website that many couples will sign as a couple, so you should order enough lines for 75% of the guests.
Good Man was confused. “What does that mean? ‘Sign as a couple?'”
I signed ‘Mr. and Mrs. John Kim’ on a piece of paper. (No Good Man’s name is not John; no, his family name is not Kim.)
“Where’s the woman’s name?”
“She’s here, in the Mrs. John.”
Good Man stared at me for a moment. When he realized I wasn’t kidding he yelled, “that’s bull! That’s so sexist—what about her name? Where is her name?” He then started muttering. “Stupid. Go to hell.”
I said it could be “John and Jane Kim” and he still just stared at me.
More than half of our guest list is made up of couples, and I really don’t want only sixteen signatures on this document. I said that we could just quietly spread the word to sign one-by-one. Good Man looked at me, “Yes! We don’t allow any stupidity at our wedding!”
I couldn’t stop laughing. I’d never expect Good Man to feel so passionate about names. Then again, in Korea if you share a name and house with a woman your age, she’s your sister.
Last weekend we went out for dinner with Mark and his Lover. Good Man looked at the menu. “There is too much to choose from in America,” he said. He told me to start picking for him.
I laughed. “That’s rather old-fashioned and backwards,” I said to him. “A long time ago, the man would order for the lady. Sometimes he’d let her choose, and other times he’d just choose for her.”
“Yeah, that’s OK, you can just choose for me any time we go out. Menus are too big in America!”
“Menus were just as big in Korea,” I argued, “Go to one of those orange places and they have walls of menus.”
“But it’s all the same—ramyeon, cheese ramyeon, curry ramyeon—here you have all those options in one menu option,” he said, pointing to the “choose two sides from the list below to go with any meal above” section.
One thing that I heard foreigners complain about in Korea is that you can’t special order foods. Like the cough syrup incident, I hadn’t considered the flip side, feeling like there are too many options when you can special order.