How to Make Koreans Smile On the Subway:
Yep, I'm doing it. I'm rocking the polar bear hat. I have a better picture of the polar bear hat rockingness on the subway, but that picture is on our new camera. And our new camera's memory chip does not work with my memory chip thingy, even though my memory chip thingy says it does. So, when I figure that out, I'll put up the better, more appropriate picture. And perhaps I should be a more self-conscious blogger (as if that's humanly possible) and just wait for the right picture to write this, but whatev. I'm tired and I have a bajillion tons of gooey yuck in my sinuses that make my head hurt when I bend down to help my students write the letter A. So, sub-par picture it is. You get the idea, right? Adult-size white girl with huge eyes gets on the train and wears this hat with all the seriousness of a Louis Vuitton headpiece. They love it! I mean, everyone on the train is either pretending to be asleep so that they don't have to give up their seat to the older person standing in front of them, or they're staring at the foreigner. So, I decided to spice up the second option. I got close to 10 smiles on the way to work this morning, made Angie choke on her breakfast 김밥 when I walked into school, and even got a 귀 여워 (Korean equivalent of cute) from the Hyundai lady who bagged my kimchi and lone potato this afternoon.
My kids LOVED it. They all squealed with glee as they exited the elevator this morning, reminding me of the plagues in the Old Testament that came in waves. I was giving out Polar Bear High Fives all day because the sides of the hat run long like a scarf and turn into little paw mittens. Today, as I rock and rolled it down the hall, celebrity style as only the foreign teacher can do, every child called out, "Polar Bear Teacher! Polar Bear Teacher!" Yep. I wore it all day long. And it was fabulous. And the guy at Tom n' Tom's who makes my tall iced caramel macchiato everyday (yes, iced even in the winter because I'm drinking it inside where there is heat!) gave me a huge smile. And normally he's so somber. I want to talk to him, have a real conversation besides just ordering, saying thanking, and telling him it was delicious. He is one of the reasons I am getting back into my seriously focused Korean studies. That and because all my expat friends are shaming me whenever we go out in public. And because one time, in March of 2007 to be exact, Kenny said, "When you speak Korean, it's like eating chocolate."
It's one of those things where people think it's a joke and they're completely thrown off when you see that you're wearing your ridiculous hat in all seriousness as if it were not a ridiculous hat. Although I know that my hat is ridiculous, I appreciate it and I will continue to wear the hat so that everyone on my morning commute will start calling me The White Polar Bear Hat Girl instead of just The Weird Girl when they think about me in their heads. Which is quite often, I'm sure. So, if you see a Polar-Bear-topped white girl bobbing around Seoul, give me a shout, yeah?