Clearly, I spent a great amount of time on my the'Merican sojourn not speaking Korean. I did manage to show off in front of friends and family members a few times (in Korean supermarkets and bars), but for the most part my summer language training regimen consisted of listening to Kim Kwang-seok*, writing about** ten postcards, and an occasional Facebook chat. So, naturally, I have been curious as to the amount of drop-off my Korean level has suffered.
Thus, I kept my ears peeled on the flight to Narita. There happened to be a pair of Korean teenagers sitting behind me, and I understood most everything they were saying. So well, in fact, that I picked up a new word! They were talking about time changes and jet lags and all of a sudden said the words for "date," "change," and "line" back to back to back. I realized: I totally just learned how to say "International Date Line." 날짜 변경선.
My mind is a freak, sometimes.
A pudgy little Korean kid is currently watching me (here in the Tokyo airport) as I write this, surreptitiously sneaking glances at my screen.*** I just turned to him and said in Korean "Wanna look?" Totally stupefied. He ran off and sent his older brother, who is also just a little kid and who sits down next to me without saying anything. I explain to him that I'm writing a blog. I am pretty sure that he can't read that I just wrote that they're pudgy. We talk for a minute or two. They're 8 and 12, in the first and fifth grades. From Gumi, a city an hour west of Daegu. Cute kids. The older one asks me: Can you speak Korean? I try to communicate that I have been speaking with him in Korean for the past five minutes, but I guess I'm not quite good enough at it to be a successful smartass. They asked my seat number and said that they used to be in that row, but then switched seats so they sit together with their parents. Their mom just came by. Apparently she'd been on a walk looking for ice cream, but couldn't find any. Maybe she'll come back with a snack?
Upcoming post: American Air has the least satisfying vegetarian meals imaginable.
*Author of such fantastically uplifting tunes as "Love that hurts too much isn't really love," "Oh misery," "the first time I saw her cry," "a story about an old couple in their sixties," "a letter to the overcast fall sky" and "I loved you, but..."
**Clearly, I mean writing approximately ten posctards, and not writing on the subject of ten postcards.
***Clearly, it is he and not I that is glancing surreptitiously. I am obviously staring obviously at it. What a mess of a pair of sentences. [I fear I may never get Wittgenstein's Mistress out of my head.]