From the vault of inexplicable speaks: "Out of the mouths of foreign babes." Vol. 1
It was a night just like any other in the vinyl recesses of the academy. The cold outside bit at your fingers like a curious weasel, and the cries of the kids shot through the room like a Brillo pad down a banshee's back. I was fighting to make it to the end of the clock, where peace and warm soup replaced the special kind of racket only repressed children can make.
I felt the manic vibe in my guts, and knew these 4 didn't have an ounce of quiet, book learning in their spring-coiled bodies. Joseph, a sloppy dough-faced 10-year-old was the first blasphemer. He was wearing his gloves inside (remember the weasel bit?) but had lost one of them, so he had a bit of a Michael Jackson thing going. The image didn't do much to curb the absurdity of the things to come.
Like limbs on a torture rack.
In the coarse of the reading, I don't remember which word I said that remotely resembled "Jesus," but Joseph sprung right on it.
"Jejus!?" he yelped.
"No Joseph," I laughed, "not Jesus."
I always forget myself in these situations. The kids say something strange and amusing, and I can't help but laugh. But getting a rise out of the teacher is like carte blanche for the blurting out the most weird-shit non sequiturs you can imagine.
"I am Jejus!" Paul cried out, not to be outdone by a kid with the attention span and relative charm of a pudding cup.
Now it spiraled into one-upmanship.
"Jejus is DELICIOUS!" Joseph howled and threw his one gloved hand into the air.
Apparently the Christian absurdism was not to the taste of Jin-Hyuck, a new student to the advanced evening class, and the only one without an English name. He opted for the Messiah of secular fantasy, clutched at an imaginary staff and quietly stated: "I am Gandalf."
I avoid trying to pin down the origins of all the inexplicable speaks I encounter in the Korean classroom. They're best left for the vault.
I think it's time I bring the "Fright Cock Mint" chewing gum game to school as a disciplinary tool.
Until next time, I'm going to listen to Tom Waits' Chocolate Jesus, and mediate on how many carbs might be in an edible Saviour.
A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.