Amanda Curses in the Presence of Her In-Laws Count: One

Good Man woke up this morning, checked his computer, whirled around and said, “They land in ten minutes!”

Good Man doesn’t usually show such emotion, and a few weeks ago when I asked if he was excited about seeing his parents, he said, “I have met my parents before. It’s not a big deal.” But his behavior betrayed his words.

A few moments later he whooped, “They’ve landed!”

Mother and Father

After they got to their hotel (about a mile and a half from our house), we went to Cosi’s for lunch. Wow. It’s kind of hard to order lunch for seven people when only three of them can read English well.

After lunch we went to reserve a car. Good Man’s family is going to NYC Monday after the wedding and I asked if they could drop off the car Sunday near the wedding site in Maryland. Nope, all of them are closed on Sundays. What about at an airport? OK, well, that wouldn’t work, so I asked about adding me as an authorized driver so I could drop it off Monday. That would cost an extra $13 a day, but if we could get to an airport on Sunday, we could add me just for Sunday and Monday. OK, that was possible since we were already going into the city.

I asked if we could use my AAA discount for any part of it. Well what do you know? If we went with my AAA card we got 10% off and I could be added every day free of charge. Hey, that AAA membership just paid for itself.

We get the car tomorrow.

Sister and Good Man

We then went back to the hotel and opened the two suitcases of food and gifts Mother brought.

Mother, bless her, is too worried.

She brought multiple kinds of seaweed, a huge packet of dried fish, two bottles of soy sauce, several pastes, homemade kimchi. Oh man, the food just kept coming. I told her I needed to take her to HMart so she doesn’t worry about our access to Korean food.

She brought “just a few” nuts to throw at us at the pyebaek. “A few” being eleven. She didn’t bring the dates only because we swore up and down that we already have dried dates.

Then she dragged out the gifts. Gifts for me. Gifts for Good Man. Gifts for us. Gifts for my mother, father, stepfather, brother’s baby. Gifts for Mark’s Lover and Mark’s Parents. She even managed to get some sort of gift for me from the woman who works at the golf shop that Mother frequents. She showed her my picture and I got a gift.

“왜냐하면 외국인이에요?” Because I’m a foreigner?

“아니, 아니, 예뻐.” No, no, because you’re beautiful.

I laughed, “왜냐하면 예쁜 외국인이에요!” Because I’m a beautiful foreigner!

Now, since Mother had an entire grocery store in her bags, and since Sister is young and pretty, they got stopped. They got stopped to go through agricultural customs and then Sister got questioned about why she came here.

Aunt (이모) and Cousin

We left Good Man’s family to rest, and met them for dinner. If ordering for seven people at Cosi’s was bad, ordering for seven people at a Thai restaurant with 85 food items on its menu…yeah. I felt like I was in Korea with my parents translating to English…except, of course, I’m here translating into Korean.

We asked the servers if the soup could serve two people. “No, it’s a one-person sized bowl.” Well, we were using it as an appetizer, so we ordered three. We could’ve gotten away with two.

“Are the entrees huge American sizes that can feed two people?” I asked.

“No, medium sized, can feed one person.”

We ordered five and again, could’ve gotten away with four.

And dang. Americans are loud. Why can I hear your conversation 25 feet away?

Good Man’s 15 year old (Korean age) cousin is kind of funny. His first sentence to me after hearing me speaking Korean was, “We’re in America, not Korea. Let’s speak in English.” He said it in Korean.

I spoke English to him during dinner, just a bit, using my slow non-native speaker voice and it was obvious that it would be easier for him to get used to my Korean than for him to dig down for his hogwon-English. At one point during dinner he wanted to borrow Good Man’s handphone from Sister. “오빠, can I, um… 이것 빌려 주세요?”

They’re Here!

At the end of dinner, Good Man and I were explaining what tipping is.

Mother was freaking out over figuring the tip, so I reached into my purse and said, “제 휴대폰에서 팊 개새끼 있어요.”

Sister said, “계산기?” Calculator?

“어, 계산기. 개새끼 뭐—” Yeah, calculator. What is—

I suddenly realized what I’d said. On my handphone there’s a tip son of a b*tch.

I covered my face with my hands, “미안합니다, 미안합니다, 미안합니다.” I apologized three times. His family laughed kindly. I blushed. “빨간색…얼굴…” Red…face…

I don’t swear in Korean. The worst I’ll do is call someone a robber or crazy. I didn’t realize 개새끼 was in my active vocabulary though I knew it was in my passive vocab.

I am lucky that Good Man’s parents and sister like me, because none of them acted at all upset at what I said. I’m pretty sure my totally nonchalant way of saying it combined with my questioning what it meant made it clear that it just sort of…came out.

But still, if they didn’t like me, this would be one more reason not to.

After dinner we went to The Falls Church. It was getting late and fire flies were rising from the grass. Several members of Good Man’s family gasped and pointed at them. “반딧불!”

You don’t see many fireflies in Seoul.