Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

childhood memory

normalcyispasse reminded me of this; he's teaching in Korea now, where I lived for about a year during my first-grade year. Thought I'd share the story here:

When I was a little boy living in a boss-owned neighborhood north of Seoul, the boss-man invited my mother and me to his house for frequent dinners. Americans were rare then; it was during the Vietnam War, and soldiers' families weren't supposed to be there. So it pleased him to have as guests these exotic foreigners, especially me and my brother with our blond hair.

I recall eating many things I wouldn't have touched while living in the US. But Boss Man explained to me that since my dad was away serving on the DMZ, I was the man of the house and must eat what's offered to save face for my family. Gourmet items he offered included things like transparent soup - served in glass bowls, of course - with complete fish (and other objects) floating within them; octopi the size of small children; "Thousand-Year Eggs" and their attendant bouquet; and all manner of stinky and spicy foods I couldn't hope to recognize and wouldn't touch today. But I ate them, because Boss Man and his sons had frequently demonstrated how important "face" was to them, and I didn't want to harm my family.

I would love to be able to watch the Koreans' faces while I stoically put such delicacies into my mouth, a little 6-year-old boy eating what I'm sure many of them wouldn't dare try. I do recall hearing some of the Korean party guests laughing as I ate something. Ha ha.

Tags: the self

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