This is what I have learned: saying yes is easier than saying no. Even though saying yes may mean having a beer with every meal, having to eat more than one person ever should in a day, and riding the banana boat twice more than you actually wanted to.
I was told by my host brother that his father had a graduates meeting and then later that we might go to the beach today. Silly me for not seeing the connection between these things. So I found myself awkwardly at a Korean potluck for, I think, my host father’s middle school reunion. Why does that not seem like it could be right?
Conversation mediated by my host brother’s electronic dictionary involves such interesting twists of language as his telling me that green tea is supposed to “fat disjoint.” Apparently his mother wants to lose weight to have a “killer body.”
Riding the banana boat involves seven people straddling an an inflated tube pulled by a jetski at lightning speed and driven by a sadist who gets his rocks off on making sharp turns that capsize the entire project sending nosefulls of seawater down the back of everyone’s throat. On a good run, he will do this early on and come back for you so that he can do it twice more and then send the rescue boat.
The only way my host family could be better is if they had a very small child. When a very small child who is excited to ride the jetski that will pull the banana boat asks me “Where are you from?” I can confidently respond “Miguk saramieyo.” And when he says “Bihengi tago?” I answer without hesitation, “Yes, I did come in an airplane.” And when he wants to know if there are banana boats in America I say with conviction “Aniyo. Banana boat opssoyo.”
But I rode it three times anyway. To add to the anecdotal evidence in favor of smiling, nodding, and saying yes to everything–after the beach, we couldn’t leave the grocery store until I finally said yes to something, so I ended up with a strawberry milk, which I certainly didn’t need after eating kimbap, sam kyop sal, and ramen at lunch. And when my host mother set down a plate of fresh mandu as I was writing this, I said yes and ate five scrumptuously fattening dumplings at 10pm. But my host father said, as I understood it, you always eat so much and it makes my wife happy.