Thirty, with One to Grow On

“I will go buy you ice cream cake,” Good Man said about my birthday. “I will go to Baskin-Robbins because you are Baskin-Robbins!” In Korea, when you are thirty-one, you are Baskin-Robbins.

“Quit calling me thirty-one.”

“Hmmm, but should I put thirty candles on cake like in America, or thirty-one since you are already thirty-one in Korea?”

“Actually, in America we put an extra candle on the cake, sometimes, ‘one to grow on.'”

At the grocery store, Good Man found a coffin candle. “Over the Hill: Too Old to Count” it said. “야! Put that back!”

“OK, I will get 3 and 1,” he said, picking up the two digits, “Ask for something outrageous and then you get what you want.”

“It’s your birthday?” a coworker asked.

“Yep, my thirtieth.”

“Are you married?”


“Oh, good, then you still have time to do something important in your life, like have kids.”

“I’ve already done something important in my life,” I said, “I’ve had over six hundred kids in my lifetime already.”

A student gave me a gift wrapped in paper he’d written on.


Inside each O, A, and E he’d drawn a cartoon picture of a girl. “Is that me?”

“Uh huh.”

“What’s ‘teacher’s hat?'”

“My mom made me change it to an ‘a.'”