Monday, March 7, 2011

I am a proud member of the "I Like Tea" club.

So apropos of nothing Chortle slapped this sheet of paper all spattered with Korean down on my desk and asked me which after-school club I wanted to join.  At first I thought this surely was a trap because "after-school club" sounds like "extra work" to me and I consequently enjoyed a terrifying premonition of getting roped into herding naughty children who don't understand any English through a museum in my spare time.  No thanks, Korea:  the overtime rate you are contractually obligated to pay me is insufficient compensation for field trips through the fires of hell.

But my intuition was incorrect.  Chortle explained that on two Fridays of each month the sticklers in administration allow teachers to knock off one hour early so they can enjoy some bonding time with other teachers who share their interests.  It's a team-building thing.  Teachers have to register officially with a club to enjoy this privilege.  I definitely wanted to spare myself all those hours of looking busy, so I needed to join a club.  Here's a list of my options as translated by Chortle:
  1. The "Educational Culture" club.  Chortle didn't know how to express the name of this one in English, but she made it seem boring and didn't want to try to explain.
  2. The "I Like God" club.  Self-explanatory.
  3. The "Traditional Korean Music" club.  Apparently its members form an ensemble.
  4. The "Western Music" club.  Similar to #3 above, I gather, but with guitars.
  5. "ELF (Enjoy Life & Food)".  Curiously, this one has an English-only name.  It meets at fancy restaurants.
  6. The "Trekking" club.  Chortle consented to "walking" as a better translation.
  7. "Mountain Hiking."
  8. The "I Like Movies" club.
  9. The "I Like Tea" club.
Note that there's no "I Speak English" club and imagine joining a club full of strangers you can't risk offending who conduct all their business in a language you don't understand.  I wanted to claim those glorious hours off, but the path was perilous.

I hemmed and hawed.  Chortle mentioned she was joining the "I Like Tea" club and wrote her name in its box.  She was the third signer and none of the other clubs had a member yet.  I asked about the movie club:  all Korean movies, or subtitled American ones?  Chortle didn't know.  I looked thoughtful.  I tentatively offered that I'd enjoyed some teas in the past.  There was a pause.  Chortle leaned in close and in a conspiratorial whisper told me the "I Like Tea" club is a front organization for going home early.  It meets once each semester for an evening meal at a decent restaurant, just for fun, and otherwise does nothing.  There is no tea.  It ought to be called the I Like Going Home Early club.  I knew at once this was the outfit for me.

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