A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Birds of Effluvia... Flock Toguthia?

"Teacher! Follow me!"

This is usually a foreboding statement coming from the kids. It doesn't mean literally follow me to some strange cavern or something, but rather "do what I do" like say a word in Korean or make a silly gesture.

Sometimes I play along, and today it was a strange lead.

"Teacher! Follow me!" The girl said, and rubbed her hands together furiously.

"Like this?" I did it very slowly and mock lazy on purpose.

"Noooooo-oooooooo!" she laughed. "Fast!"

So I gave'er and rubbed as if to start a fire that my merit badge depended on.

"Now smell!"


"Smell!" and she pressed her palms to her nose and took an impassioned whiff.

Then she almost horked.

"Teacher! Hand-dung!" the sweet little 8-year-old girl cried with her tongue sticking out through a smile.

"Hand... dung?" I questioned.

"Dung friend!" came the reply.

I guess unwashed hands + sweat + friction = a more literal l'eau de toilette.

I find this a kind of endearing way to explain gross things that the kids use often. While fishing for the word for snot, it was explained to me first as "nose-dung" then again as "dung-friend." I like the idea of a camaraderie between bodily substances they seem to imagine. There's a touch of nicely profane magic-realism in thinking of the body one big social network, and all of its respective wastes being thick as thieves.

So there stood the 3 girls rubbing their hands together like B-movie ghouls and gagging at the smell.

I think I'll be reconsidering congratulatory high-fives...


Anonymous said...

With all the dirty hands that I'm exposed to on a daily basis at school, I'm surprised I'm not sick more. Maybe my immune system has built up, maybe it's the kimchi, or maybe it's paid off to teach in my hazmat suit.

Irrelephant said...

I don't think I'll ever shake hands with anyone again. Ever.