Yesterday, I got out of my long afternoon club class and had five missed calls from the same number waiting for me. Thinking it was probably relatively important, I called the number back.
It was my principal - the one from last year. The one who I can easily say is the quirkiest person I have ever met. And he wanted to meet for dinner.
If you haven’t been following me long, let me summarize. This man was completely enamored with me from the moment I started at my school a year and a half ago. I don’t mean this in a creepy or threatening way, just in the sense that he introduced me at length every time we met someone new (or even when the person had gotten the whole spiel before) as our wonderful native teacher who is from Minnesota and who used to do synchronized swimming and uses videos in class very effectively. He knows this because he used to attend my classes a few times a week, diligently repeating words aloud along with my students.
In any case, after he was transferred to a nearby high school this spring, things have been a lot quieter. Honestly, I can say I kind of miss him - even though it’s super awkward at the time my coteacher and I could always bond about the great stories afterward (plus I have a feeling my blog was a lot more interesting when he was featured on a regular basis. So even though I knew it would be awkward, I accepted the dinner invitation. The fact that he never takes no for an answer might have played a part in that decision as well.
So after school today he dropped by to pick me up. But we didn’t go straight to dinner - no, he wanted to show me his new school, since I teach in a middle school and might not know what a high school looks like (spoiler alert - it’s basically a middle school but the kids running around are a bit taller.)
But this basically turned into me awkwardly standing there while he introduced me to every teacher we ran into and kept praising me like he always used to. Now, I do try to do my best and I feel like I’m a good teacher. But I’m not an amazing amazing amazing teacher, nor do I want to hear someone tell random strangers that I am. Also…that school has a native teacher too. I don’t know who it is, luckily we didn’t run into her, but I know I wouldn’t appreciate some random other teacher showing up and seeming to show off in my school. I felt really bad, and tried to get out of there as quickly as possible.
I survived, and we went off to a really delicious galbi restaurant for dinner. His English is not amazing, but he’s very enthusiastic, so dinner wasn’t too awkward.
Then, as he’s driving me home, he makes a sudden turn into the EMart parking lot. “I will buy you some fruit!” he said. Not a question, a statement, thrown over his shoulder as he was already halfway out of the car. I really should have seen this last part coming, of course. When I moved into my apartment, he made an impromptu pit stop at the store to buy me toilet paper and orange juice as a “housewarming gift.”
Of course I protested, as always, and as always it was futile. At some point, you realize that it’s more awkward to keep saying “no” than to just let your former boss buy you orange juice.
And by orange juice, I mean a ton of random other stuff. In the end, my haul was: a box of cherry tomatoes, a bag of apples, a bag of oranges, three bell peppers and a box of Froot Loops (or, as they call them in Korea, Froot Rings).
I’m really going to miss Korea, if only because this crazy stuff makes life so much more fun.