My host father points to the name of the chocolate bar we have just eaten, wants to know what it means in English. Crunky? I tell him say it’s not a word. He changes topics. I think, “Did he just say negro?”
Actually, that’s not quite what I thought he said. When pronounced by a Korean speaker, it sounds much more offensive. I keep repeating the Korean word with a rising intonation to indicate that he will have to look it up in the dictionary. Unfortunately, negro is what he was trying to say and I sigh internally. Where could this possibly be going? Why must this always happen when we have dinners alone? And why did I just eat that entire Crunky Bar?
The next word he looks up is “wedding ceremony.” He says the word for black person and the word for wedding ceremony together. Is he asking me if black people get married? Then comes what I assume to be the word for white person coupled with black person and the word for wedding ceremony and the phrase “chal anden” that sort of literally means “don’t do well” but has a connotative meaning I don’t fully have an appreciation for.
When I finally give up and say “oryowoyo” — difficult — he changes topics: “What time will you go to school tomorrow? When’s your first class. Oh, that’s a little early.”