Oh no… the Sungbo floodgates have opened!
I just remembered this story, which is actually far more about Brian than Sungbo, but for those of you who missed the first installment of the Sungbo story arc, I’ll set the stage. I had returned to South Korea for a second year of Korean food (that’s sarcasm, for those of you who haven’t had to endure the Korean obsession with their food). No, I had returned for a second year of teaching English in a private academy in Seoul, (actually, Incheon, if I remember correctly), but this time it was at a preschool, so the adventure was quite different than the previous year. This series of events must have come during the first or second week, and it centered around a birthday party. Every kid got a birthday party in the birthday party room, and our first victim was Brian, an otherwise happy and adorable child.
We sat Brian, the happy birthday boy, in the seat of honor behind the cake and gifts, a golden crown crafted of the finest cardboard perched atop his head like a coffee mug atop a cockeyed pile of books. Brian, so full of joy he just couldn’t contain his emotions–I guess–began wailing. It didn’t matter how big the pile of presents nor how perfectly crafted the flavorless Korean cake, he wasn’t having any of it. No one, not my co-teacher, not his own mother could stop the flow of tears and the siren song of his wailing.
The other children were all sitting around their paper plates full of party foods, mostly kimbop (a sort of veggie sushi roll), and small piles of orange this and bland that, enjoying the lovely party. I have to admit, I was a tad overwhelmed and spent most of the time in the back of the room wondering just what the hell kind of chaos I had gotten myself into, and seriously doubting my latest career choice. All the while the parents and teachers in the room tried to pretend that Brian’s ear splitting cries were the gentle sounds of a Carpenter’s song playing softly on the Muzak in the background.
For reasons I will never fully understand, Sungbo stood up, and with an obvious sense of purpose, walked to the center of the room, stood in front of the cake and barfed.
And that was the end of the party.