Playing The Foreigner can mean suppressing your personality (at work and in public and such) for the sake of Fitting In or Not Going to Asia Jail. This strategy works flawlessly, so long as no one asks you any questions about yourself, ever. And this never happens, especially in Corea del Sur. Thus, The Foreigner must consider three courses of action when confronted with an inquiry:

A) The Truth

B) The Simple English Response (whatever answer will be easiest to explain in broken Korean/basic English)

C) A Complete Lie That Will Make A Future In Place Much Much Easier

These aren’t always mutually exclusive, but frequently so. Let’s witness this process in action. An Example: “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Possible Answer A) The Truth: No, I do not have a boyfriend. Yes, that’s my age, you heard right. Your frowning and head-shaking and pity are not necessary and unappreciated. What’s that? You want me to date someone¬† you know? Likely a man raised with a Confucian value system that quite specifically outlines the subservience of women to men? Super great.

Possible Answer B) Simple English Response: No.

Possible Answer C) A Complete Lie That Will Make A Future In Place Much Much Easier: Yeah, I totally have a boyfriend. But, um, heee….doesn’t live here. Yeah yeah, far away from here. I know, it’s totally sad, right?! But that’s okay. I’ll, you know, maybe see him over winter vacation or something, no big deal.


Guess which one I chose? (Hint: C) And for awhile, there was peace in Erinland. My well-meaning coworkers were happy that I wasn’t going to die alone, and I was happy because my answer effectively killed the question, and my 6th grade girl students were happy because Boyfriend meant I wasn’t ever going to date Kyung Hyu – my babe of a coteacher and the man that they are clearly all destined to marry.

Complications arose. First, my 5th graders were to speak with my family on the phone as part of a lesson. As they wrote down their questions, I spotted several “You like Erin Teacher boyfriend?” Goddammit you little bastards…of the four sentences you know… This would end in much shit upon my head if my parents thought I had a secret boyfriend OR if my parents thought I had a secret boyfriend and then I had to tell them I didn’t. They would cry the bitter tears of those with a spinster daughter. Blessedly, the question never reached my mom & dad – proof of a divine, benevolent force at work in the world.

And now, with winter vacation on the horizon, I’m getting more and more curious questions from coteachers about where I’m going, when I’m seeing Boyfriend, what we’re going to do, when we’re getting married, if my parents like him, when they can see pictures, etc. The lies! The tangled, tangled lies!

Anyway, this is all making me feel like Jan Brady.

Update, yo: In efforts to keep my finger on your pulse, dear readers, I need to know if I’m racist and if that bothers you. More specifically, is that picture caption racistly hilarious or hilariously racist? There’s a difference, believe it or not. Fire away.

11 responses to “Boyfriend

  1. I vote just plain hilarious. America, FUCK YEAH!!

    Advice: find someone here to pretend to be your boyfriend. Mutually beneficial arrangement. Personally, I can get out of stuff so much more easily when I say I’ve got plans with my boyfriend. Plans with the boyfriend trump every other excuse you could possibly come up with.

  2. Racistly hilarious.

    I’m So Ronery
    So ronery
    So ronery and sadry arone

    There’s no one
    Just me onry
    Sitting on my rittle throne
    I work rearry hard and make up great prans
    But nobody ristens, no one understands
    Seems like no one takes me serirousry

    And so I’m ronery
    A rittle ronery
    Poor rittle me

    There’s nobody
    I can rerate to
    Feel rike a bird in a cage
    It’s kinda sihry
    But not rearry
    Because it’s fihring my body with rage

    I’m the smartest most crever most physicarry fit
    But nobody else seems to rearize it
    When I change the world maybe they’ll notice me
    But until then I’rr just be ronery
    Rittle ronery, poor rittle me

    I’m so ronery

    You’re so very welcome.

  3. Erin,

    Yes – you are racist, and no – it doesn’t bother me.

    Safe travels!

    – Jon –

  4. I knew it. I AM racist. Dammit.

    I would love to make a false boyfriend appear, but i’ve hinted that he’s american and that he lives far away…so the “i have plans with him” route is out.

    is photoshop the answer? photoshop jon hamm into all my vacation photos? “This is Don and me in the Alps…Don and me drinking scotch by the fireside, on the bearskin rug…Don and me…”

    yes. i need photoshop.

  5. Let us not dwell on the exact severity of your racism, but rather the glory that is that half-torso product. Who needs a man when you have a bisected midsection to cuddle at night? I worry about the longevity of my gender.

    Solution: select a male friend back home that you have been in pictures with (alternatively, one here). Show these pictures. Bam, made up boyfriend. Any time I am anywhere in a photo with an adult woman, my students scream, “Teacher, teacher, girlpriend?!” I once showed a picture of my sisters and a cousin, which generated the question: “Teacher… THREE wives?!”

  6. You are racistly awesome.

    Also, give me a couple weeks and I will photoshop you in to some photos with Random American Dude. (I’m thinking a quarterback from Nebraska.)

  7. i got really excited about the don draper photoshops i was going to make, but then i remembered that there are no photos of ME around…unless i’m making that stupid face i make when i’m drinking and someone pulls out a camera.

    it would probably fulfill some kind of Fahrer family prophecy if one of our tribe married a Husker.

  8. OMG!!! Colin and I just laughed so hard. Really sweetie, am I going to have to talk to Mary & Tom????? I just sent this to Uncle Jeff!!! Isn’t Facebook great! Whatever you do, don’t go “under” or off the net. You are my new reason for getting up in the mornings!

  9. Pingback: New Year, Take 2 | The Wanderlust Diary

  10. Dude, I love you. Just get a boyfriend. And by that I mean, let some bloke pick you up, buy you some soju and take pictures together. Done.

  11. ROFL!! Yes, you are racist. Good thing we all are and love it.

    Since this was a while ago… how did it turn out? Did you fess up? Or photoshop some photos? lol

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