Monday, November 17, 2008

The He-Man English Speakers Club

I think my nights on Sojou have gone into syndication because this weekend was very much a rerun of the last. Except this time, the evidence of my shame is a limp.
Last night, I hung out with a different crowd. Where last weekend everyone was an international student; this new crew was completely comprised of English teachers. I’ll start with a quick synopsis of how I met these latest Sojou enablers. There is a club of English speakers in this country (the password is any word beginning with L or V). I like to think of it as the He-Man English Speakers Club and I have never been so instantly taken care of by complete strangers. My first week, I used a rolled up towel as a pillow, feared leaving my street and was given no direction as to how I was supposed to teach English (all the teaching books were in Korean…helpful). Enter Mary stage right. Mary is a fifty-year old American from Florida. She taught English in Central America for 12 years and has been in Korea for four years. She looks like the daughter of Professor Trelawney and Clint Eastwood and is one of the most beautifully crazy people I have ever met. She doesn’t speak a lick of Korean so naturally compensates by screaming and gesticulating wildly. Mary emailed me out of the blue, no explanation as to how she knew me or got my e-mail, and offered to help. Within 2 hours of my return e-mail she had met me at my school, brought me English teaching books, a phone, a bus pass and had escorted me onto the bus. Due to her eccentric graciousness, I am leagues ahead of most others FOB (fresh off the boat). Mary has also taken it upon herself to act as my social coordinator—if you speak English in Anseong you are on Mary’s database and have my e-mail. Additionally, it is the code of the club to be just as gracious as Mary. For example, Maria, a middle aged woman from South Africa, surprised me with my first birthday cake (they totaled in three) and also gave me her charged international card. Mom you can thank Maria for your 4 am phone call!
Back to the point of the blog, it was because of Mary I was set-up to meet Lisa on the steps of Lotteria—so it is Mary I blame for my limping all of today. After a series of Sojou soaked events, I was standing in a side street of …? ... with some members of the He Man English Speakers Club. Tom (the British boy who had kept me in-line all night) had left to go to the bathroom. Scott (the Canadian boy who had goaded me into hostility all night) said something intentionally ill-mannered about Lord of the Rings. It is funny how quickly people learn my aggression buttons. I kicked off my shoes, shrugged off my jacket and flew into a brilliant Ray Lewis tackle. Too brilliant, it took us both down instantly and I must have landed on my knee. When Tom returned, Scott and I were wrestling in the middle of the street with an audience of at least ten Koreans. This is how I know British chivalry is not dead. Tom breaks up the crowd, picks me up (out of Scott’s half-nelson), sets me down into my shoes, helps my coat back on and brushes off my purse. Then, he laughs and says, “I guess I can’t go to the bathroom anymore.” Sad but true.
Stay tuned for my first jumbo-screen appearance, my latest hobby…signing autographs, my game of Where’s Waldo with the midget janitor and cat clowns. I just don’t have the strength to write another novel tonight!

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