The kind that En-Uk saw...
Two days ago, my seven-year-old son, En-Uk, was pounding at the door, which usually means that he's holding the elevator open because he's just come up but only to tell me something before rushing back down our building's 23 floors
"Daddy!" he cried out. "Come down. There are fish. Buy some and cook them for dinner."
He was talking about the market that comes to our parking lot every Thursday. People sell fruit, vegetables, and meats, including various kinds of fish.
"No, En-Uk," I told him. "I'm making pasta. I wouldn't know what to do with the fish that they sell here, anyway. That's for mama to deal with, but she has to teach tonight. And you need to come in soon. Have you run up the steps today?"
My kids and I run up the 23 floors each day as part of our exercise program, so I don't know what we'll do for fitness training when we move to a small apartment next spring. Anyway, En-Uk admitted that he hadn't done that yet.
"Then, go back down and run up," I bade him.
"Okay," he agreed.
But he was gone for a long time, and as the pasta was growing soft enough for eating, I sent Sa-Rah, my nine-year-old daughter, down to get En-Uk.
"Make sure that he runs up the stairs!" I called.
Some minutes later, Sa-Rah returned, explaining, "He was looking at fish, but he's running up the steps now."
En-Uk arrived after a few minutes, flushed in the face and breathing hard from exertion. The three of us then settled into our places in the living room to enjoy our meal while watching The Polar Express
and thus had no time for discussing fish.
The next morning at breakfast, however, En-Uk raised the issue of the fish. At first, he spoke to Sun-Ae in Korean, but we have a table rule. At meals, we speak English, and I reminded him.
"But I don't know what it's called in English," he complained.
Sun-Ae told him, "Then use the Korean word for that fish, but speak English."
"Yesterday," he said, "I saw a nak-ji
"What's a nak-ji
?" I asked.
"I don't know!" he complained. "That's why I'm speaking Korean."
"It's an octopus," Sa-Rah offered.
"Yes," En-Uk agreed. "An octopus."
"And why," I asked, "was this octopus so special that you had to rush up yesterday to demand that I buy it?"
I was taking a sip of my coffee when En-Uk replied, "Because it had eight really long testicles
I nearly choked but somehow managed to swallow normally enough. Sun-Ae smiled ... and even Sa-Rah knew that En-Uk had misspoken, and also smiled. At their faces, I had to laugh, a hearty, deep laugh.
En-Uk looked at me ... uncertain and somewhat bewildered.
When I'd recovered enough, I told him, "Tentacles
, En-Uk. Not testicles. Tentacles
At which point, Sa-Rah wanted to know precisely what "testicles" are...