Monday, May 25, 2009

Melissa and her 'Fusion' Baby visit Gypsy Scholar and Family

Melissa, who blogs at Expatriate Games (but secretly calls herself 'Korean Goldfish'), brought her little fiery three-year-old daughter Hayden on a visit Saturday afternoon and became more personally acquainted with the man and his family behind the Gypsy Scholar masquerade, i.e., me (Jeffery Hodges), my wife (Sun-Ae), and our two children (Sa-Rah and En-Uk).

Actually, Sa-Rah was missing at 3 in the afternoon when Melissa and Hayden arrived by taxi from Seoul's world-famous Bonghwasan Station. My daughter is only nearly a teenager but is precocious enough to already be acting like one, so she was out galavanting about with her 13-year-old friends -- jejune cartoonists all -- and leaving younger brother En-Uk responsible for entertaining Hayden.

He did a remarkable job, for the most part steering little Hayden along the relatively strait-and-narrow, if circuitous, one-true-path path on our walk up 'Mt.' Bonghwa, about which we'd promised would offer a panoramic view of Seoul . . . or at least our small portion of it . . . but we'd failed to reckon on either the rights of spring, with its explosion of leaves, or the year's lapse since we'd last hiked the easy summit -- and consequently discovered that much of the previous view had been blocked by upgrown treetop greenery, even for me when I had clambered atop the reconstructed signal-fire chimney. Almost nothing was visible, aside from the river where we sometimes bike, but as a lookout had been constructed precisely for that view, all five of us were able to gaze at least upon that tiny outlook.

Melissa was gracious anyway, despite lack of the promised panorama, and Hayden seemed not to mind. She was too busy enjoying the attentions of 'older brother' . . . namely, En-Uk.

By the time that we arrived again at our apartment, Hayden was wholeheartedly devoted to En-Uk, who had shown her insects, pebbles, and even works of art along the path's wayside, and she followed him around in the apartment to see his landcrabs, his jumprope, and his etchings. Well, his colorful drawings, anyway.

Eventually, we settled down to our meal, and after we'd enjoyed Sun-Ae's success with her world-famous pumpkin soup, followed by her equally successful and equally famous dishes of salad and of curried chicken, we greeted Sa-Rah as she finally returned late to belatedly eat what we'd saved for her -- and made up for her tardiness by entertaining us afterwards with some classical guitar:

En-Uk, not to be outdone by Sa-Rah's musical talent, regaled us with his ability to devour fruit yogurt:

Retiring from that performance, En-Uk sneaked off to watch Kung Fu Panda on DVD while Sa-Rah did her part to make up for her late arrival:

Following an arduous experience with the stuffed animals, Hayden tried to nap on the couch, using one of our cats, Goya, as a pillow:

Our other cat, Angi, would have served adequately as a blanket but had read the signs well and had thus retreated to his perch high above the room, on a ledge far beyond Hayden's reach.

While all of that was going on, Melissa, Sun-Ae, and I were drinking a 2005 Vincent Saincrit Bourdeaux and enjoying our conversation, which ranged over the places we'd lived and the lives we'd led. Melissa comes from a Nova Scotian Catholic town (and I had thought Nova Scotians to all be Scotch-Irish Protestants, yet the province is 37% Papist!), but traveled a year in the States -- starting in Alaska and ending up in Florida -- studied a year for a TESOL certificate in Great Britain, and ended up teaching English here in South Korea, where she picked up a Korean husband (temporarily) and her fusion baby, Hayden (permanently).

Melissa had also recently visited friends in Shanghai and returned with some Delirium Tremens -- no, not the illness, but the famous Belgian beer brewed by Brasserie Familiale Huyghe. She brought along a bottle for me to try, but I didn't open it until Sunday afternoon. It's a pale ale -- and a strong one, too, at 8.5% alcohol, but the bottle was only 330 ml, so I didn't get tipsy. Actually, I didn't even notice the high alcohol because of the beer's fresh, zesty aroma and flavor -- somewhat fruity but certainly not sweet -- followed by a fine hoppy bitterness that quickly sets in to offset the fruitiness but add to the zest. I wished that I had a second bottle, for the one that I drank was too quickly empty.

But back to Saturday evening, which -- like that later ale -- had to come to an end. Babies get tired, as I know from experience, and they sometimes become cranky, so Melissa left before that could happen with Hayden. The little one in fact was a 'delight' and hardly complained about anything. Indeed, she was so attached to En-Uk and Sa-Rah that she insisted on our family coming along to her home. I followed outside as far as the sidewalk but managed to persuade Hayden that I needed to return home to wash the evening's dishes, which she graciously allowed (thus failing to read this sign of impending disappointment). From the various reports later provided, Hayden was content until she and Melissa got into the taxicab without En-Uk, Sa-Rah, or Sun-Ae and realized the bitter truth that none of them were accompanying her all the way home. She then finally cried, stretching out her hand in a gesture of despair at realizing the truth, too late, that she had been misled.

Good parenting is the subtle art of misdirection, and Melissa is a good parent, but we'll find a way to make things up to Hayden for our deception -- as Melissa doubtless already has.

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At 8:58 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Goodness, Sa-rah and En-Uk look so grown up! Last we saw them in the USA vacation photos, they looked like mere children.

I saw a martial arts photo attached to your refrigerator. Would that be Sa-rah? And is it a black belt she's wearing? Or am I just imagining that?

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

CIV, the two kids are getting big! I'm sort of sad about that...

The photo that you see is of En-Uk, and the belt is green . . . eco-friendly martial arts, I suppose. He never uses violence on the plant kingdom (especially not against vegetables, which he even refuses to eat).

But Sa-Rah also does taekwondo, much better than En-Uk.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:10 AM, Blogger MKM said...

I love this description of our visit! I thought: who was this gracious "Melissa"? I'd love to meet her! :)

Anyway, thank you again for your hospitality. Hayden and I had an amazing time and we hope to see you and your family again sometime soon. Hayden has been talking about her "uhnee' and "oppa" and "koyangee" all day and has been leaving a trail of brownie crumbs all over my floors - which I take to be a sign of her happiness! As for myself, I have fond memories of your beer and wine, your wife's excellent cooking - and of course the conversation and music. So many things actually!

Hayden did cry out as the taxi pulled away and honestly, I felt her pain! I had a great time as well. I'll put a proper blog post up sometime tomorrow although sadly without pictures.


At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a delightful story, Jeffery.
It is so good to know that your reptilian, three chambered heart can actually exude kindness, thoughtfulness, and tenderness....a trait I never detected in any of your treatment of me.
I also enjoyed the pictures.
Sa-Rah is now playing classical guitar, as well as the piano! I noted her beautiful and long fingers, and envied her ability to span the fretboard to produce the chords that I have trouble reaching.
En-Uk has certainly grown, and they both have matured since their visit here.
I have only one question....having heard of the "rites" of spring, could you now explain to me the "rights" of spring?


At 4:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Melissa, we were happy to have you over and look forward to getting together again.

My wife was actually worried at my blogging about you and Hayden. As a Korean, her views on 'privacy' differ somewhat from the views of Westerners. I told her, "Koreans will ask how old you are the first time they meet you but worry about a blog entry on a social evening." Anyway, I assured her that you'd be happy with the blog's description of events.

By the way, I sent you some pictures of the evening. Did you receive them? If not, I can send again.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, the spring has rights that we know not of.

As for 'kindness'? Well, even reptiles such as I can be trained to simulate mammalian qualities . . . but stay tuned, I'll blogging on you soon.

Jeffery Hodges

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