Tom Renshaw came home from teaching a class of noodle-making students for a long-awaited week’s vacation. He was all ready for what Elmer Fudd would describe as “west and wewaxation.” He asked his wife Soonhee about her day.
“How are the kids?”
(Soonhee tutored a group of elementary school students in the afternoon.)
“Fred didn’t do his homework again.” “Fred” was actually a Korean boy; all the students had English nicknames (as did many of Tom’s adult students). “I had to hit him.”
“What?! Why? That’s illegal, isn’t it?”
“Not if you hit their palm.”
At first Tom thought she’d said, “Not if you hit them with your palm.” So he asked, “What part of his body did you hit?”
Jesus, that must have hurt, thought Tom.
“So you hit him with a stick?”
“Just because he didn’t do his homework?”
“He never does it!”
“And you think that’s a good way to get him to do it?”
“What else am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know, but hitting him seems a little extreme, don’t you think?”
Soonhee went on to say that she told Fred that hitting him hurt her as much as it did him (so they use that line in Korea too, thought Tom).
“I’m going to talk to his mother about it tomorrow,” she added.
“We’ll be lucky if he doesn’t quit taking the class.”
Fred was their first student. They’d been teaching him for over three years. It would have been a milestone if he quit. Or, since they were in Korea, I guess you’d call it a kilometerstone.
Early the following morning, after Soonhee retired from surfing the internet while watching hysterically overacted Korean soap operas on her phone, and Tom recovered from a gas attack induced by a substandard Tex-Mex vegetarian enchilada, along with the bitter grapefruit wedges Soonhee fed him afterwards, Tom had a nightmare in which Jesus was being crucified upside down. The weight of his own frame tore his arms off at the shoulders. Christ roared in agony as they were wrenched from the sockets.
Tom woke up and went to the bathroom.
(To be continued–sorry, but there’s been an unavoidable interruption.)