Monthly Archives: March 2014

Waeguks at the Golden Corral

On Thursday, my husband and I had doctor appointments all day long, so I busted my ass the other four days of the week and made my 40 hours.   Usually he likes to have lunch at Chipotle because he’s now ridiculously addicted to inauthentic Mexican food.  Go figure.  He used to make fun of me for missing guacamole, but now he understands the amazingness of the green goo.  Anyway, Chipotle is expensive for fast food, in my humble opinion, so I suggested we hit up the ole big ‘n cheap buffet, Golden Corral.

I hadn’t been to GC since college, when my old roommate wanted to go there for her birthday.  The rest of us were horrified by the choice, but we went.  Well, the GC in Springfield really isn’t so bad, and it’s good for my husband because he can choose natural things that don’t aggravate his stomach.  Plus, kids eat free.  I’m all about the kiddo eating for free.  Keeping clothes on her?  Not that pricey.  Toys?  Meh.  But food?  She’s a freaking skinny-fat person – eats like a horse and will eat everything in sight.  Not complaining about her lack of pickiness, but seriously, Brett is going to eat us out of house and home.

Anyway, the bulk of the people you see at a buffet at noon on a Thursday are about what you’d expect: the retired, the weird, the morbidly obese (got a lot of those around here), the families who for some reason have children who aren’t in school, and us.  I had finished my actual lunch and was making my way to the soft serve trough when I heard a familiar sound.  A sound I never expected to hear in Springfield, IL.  From behind me, I heard the telltale lip smack-spit suck combination, and I almost dropped my ice cream on the floor.

I whipped around like lightning to see two ajummas behind me.  They weren’t wearing sparkly visors, although one was donning a weird hat-visor combo that looked like it would’ve been better suited for safari than Springfield, although in fairness, some of the customers in GC could be mistaken for hippos or other large African plains-type mammals.  I mean, I just knew.  The Japanese would never make such a sound, and I think the Chinese have their own language of icky sounds.

I scooted back to the table and informed my husband that there were Koreans around.  “How to do you know?” he asked.

I made the spit sucking sound and said, “No other nation on Earth makes that noise.  Every Korean alive makes that noise.  We know this.”

“Yeah, but… Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.  They’re Hangooks.  Gotta be.  There were also ajumma fashion choices happening.  The Japanese dress better than that, and the Chinese are worse, unless they’re from Hong Kong.  I’m telling you.  Klowns.”

So he went over to the dessert cart area to investigate, and sure enough, there was a entire, huge table full of ajummas and one or two lonely old men.  My husband went up and started rattling off Korean to them.  Eyes went wide, the entire table fell silent.  In English, they asked him where he was from and how in the bloody hell he’d learned Korean.  He said you could just tell that they were dumbfounded to find a giant white guy speaking Korean in west central Illinois.

They made very pleasant, polite conversation and expressed interest in meeting Brett and me, once they found out that we’d lived in Korea.  He told me this, and I scoffed.

“They don’t give a damn.  They were just saying that to be nice.  They don’t want to meet me.”

“Oh, can’t we go over and say hello again?”  I think he just wanted to exercise his Korean muscles.  I, personally, couldn’t have given a shit.  I mean, seriously.  They didn’t care about us when we were in Korea.  Why would they care now?  I’ll tell you: they don’t.  They were just making good face, and I told my husband so, but he insisted that we say hello to this herd of Bible-thumping ajummas.  I mean, Christ.  Really.

Well, he dragged me over there, utterly against my will.  And to nobody’s shock, they completely ignored us.  They didn’t even look at him.  They acted as though they’d never seen him before.  I just laughed, shook my head, and told him, “I’m outta here.  You can take the Korean out of Korea, but you’ll never take the rude, uncaring crapulence of the Koreans.  I told you this was a waste of time.  We’re still the waeguks, in their eyes, even though they’re the foreigners here.”  My husband sighed and grudgingly admitted that I had been right all along.

No, not a bad experience with Koreans, just par for the course.  Nothing new under the sun.  Nobody who has lived in Korea for any appreciable length of time would be surprised by this behavior.  I’m kind of amazed that a few months in the US has altered my husband’s memory that much, but hey, time and distance sometimes lends rose-colored glasses to things.  For my part, I’m not far enough away to be getting a pair of those and probably never will be.


My Olympic Wish

Call me mean-spirited if you have to – I am sometimes – but I got my Olympic wish.  We still don’t have cable, so I obviously didn’t bother to watch Sochi live.  I always get the recaps on the figure skating, though.  Y’all know I love my ballet on ice.  I just can’t help it.  I’m in love with the grace and athleticism.  I’m in love with it because I have never been able to do anything like it, nor will I ever be able to in this lifetime.  Figure skating just amazes me.

BUT.  When I was living in Korea, part of me started to get really annoyed with figure skating, and I blame it on the Korean obsession with freaking Kim Yuna.  Yes, she’s a great athlete and a one-of-a-kind skater.  I get that.  I really do.  I’m not saying that she sucks because frankly, saying that would be ignorant and downright stupid.  She’s awesome.

BUT.  I can’t stand her.

I blame Korea.  Koreans are obsessed with Kim Yuna.  You’d think there’d never been another amazing skater born to this world.  Of course, the Koreans probably know nothing about them because hey, Koreans don’t pay much attention to athletes who aren’t from Korea.  The only soccer (football, whatever) games I saw in Korea were Manchester United games when Park Ji-Sung was still playing for them.  Figure skating was suddenly a big deal because of “Queen” Yuna.  I taught a couple of little girls who were obsessed with her, and I did eventually get curious.

Honestly, my first reaction was, “Meh.  She’s technically excellent, but she’s not lighting me on fire.”  And she doesn’t.  She didn’t.  She never has, and she never will.  Maybe it’s just me and what I like, but I don’t get fired up about technically perfect things, in a lot of cases.  I want some pizzazz, some gasoline, some za-za-zsu.  Kim Yuna doesn’t have that.  She’s great, if you like paint-by-numbers skating that caters to the new system.

Well, my big wish for the 2014 Winter Olympics was that Kim Yuna would be defeated and go home without the gold.  And I got my wish.  Adelina Sotnikova unseated her, and I rejoiced.  Well, Korea didn’t.

True to form, the entire nation (it seems) threw a collective temper tantrum, crashed, and immediately began screaming and ranting about Russian judges being crooked.  Okay, fair enough, Russia is crooked.  You know what other country is crooked?  Korea.  I can’t wait to see what sorts of crap they pull when it’s their turn in four years’ time.

I’ll admit that I finally watched a side-by-side of the two performances.  Yuna was better.  There.  I said it.  She was.  Sotnikova isn’t as consistent, nor is she as polished as Kim Yuna.  Would she have been my pick to win?  No.  I was rooting for Gracie Gold.  She’s actually from Chatham, which is over by Springfield, and her dad is an anesthesiologist at the hospital here in Jacksonville.  She’s kind of-sort of a hometown hero, and you gotta root for the home team.  Plus, she has some pizzazz.  You know I like the pizzazz.

What really bugs me about Kim Yuna, besides the fact that I don’t think she’s the greatest skater who ever lived, is the fact that Koreans are such freaks about losing.  That’s one of those things about Korea: their parents push them hard and teach them how to win, but dammit, they are completely unprepared to lose.  And if they do lose, it’s never their fault.  Hell, that’s even true here.  I have a co-worker who once worked with a Korean boy in university, and when he didn’t succeed in the arena in which she had painstakingly instructed him, it was her fault, and he refused to speak to her ever again.  Very mature for a man of 21.  But that’s Korea.  Don’t win?  The game must be rigged.  Aren’t the best?  It’s my teacher’s fault.  It’s a culture of never taking any damn responsibility.

I mean, I just admitted that I think Yuna should have won, and I don’t like her.  She bugs me on and off the ice.  I wish she’d disappear.  But I can admit when someone I don’t like is the superior player.  I may not like it, but I’m big enough to admit it.  If Yuna had fallen on her ass, it still would’ve been someone else’s fault.

“Oh, Brian Orser, he make so many problem to Yuna!  He ruin her career!”

“Oh, Russia people, bad!  Yell a bad thing to Kim Yuna and make her to fall!”

It’s always something.

So yeah, I’m glad she lost.  She was a pretty good sport about it.  Too bad the same can’t be said for her countrymen.

I still don’t like her.  She behaves in public like the good little robot that she is, but I still think she’s a pain.  I’m confident that she’s controlled by her indubitably overbearing Korean mother, who is her manager (momager?), and she fired Brian Orser for seemingly no reason other than her mother was probably insane and impossible to work with, and let’s face it, the Korean-North American cultural barrier, in my experience, is practically impossible to overcome.  After such a time, you realize that it’s just not fucking worth it.  It really isn’t.  And I would never in a million years be dumb enough to want to deal with a crazy Korean mom who is also a crazy skating mom.  Seriously, bitches be trippin’.

Ultimately, I just wish Korea would get over it and start behaving like adults on the world stage.  They’re always pissed off because they’ve been wrong about something.  I saw an article about “Han,” which is basically national grief and grumpiness over some real or imagined slight.  I mean, that tells you everything right there.  Here is a country of people who get together and fucking cry when something offends them.  And they have a cultural excuse for it.  Please understand my culture.  I tried that, but then I got pissed off, turned back into an arrogant American, and said, “Screw it.  America.  Fuck yeah.”

So my parting thoughts go about like this:

1. Koreans need to suck it up and stop acting like the biggest babies in the sandbox.  Get the fuck over it and accept that you can’t always win, and that when you don’t win, it’s not necessarily someone else’s fault.

2. Kim Yuna is retired.  Thank Christ.

4.  I still think that while she’s technically great, she’s boring as beige walls with beige carpet, curtains, and furniture.  I can’t watch a full performance of hers.

5.  Yuna never had a triple axel.  I will never call a woman skater the greatest who couldn’t punch out a triple in competition.  And she never tried, to the best of my knowledge.  Screw that noise.

5. Midori Ito 4-eva!  Now THERE is a woman who could rock a jump!  Seriously, watch this chick.  She could fucking fly.  Not that Koreans would care because she’s a dirty, Japanese monkey, but you know, if Ito were skating today under the current scoring system, she would have nailed Yuna’s ass to the grass and then flown over her with the greatest of ease.  I think she could’ve done a quad, had such things even been done back in those days.  First woman to land a triple axel in competition.