Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meet the Parents

Growing up in the US watching American TV shows and movies I learned about the American dating culture. One thing I learned is that its a rite of passage to for a guy to some day meet his date's parents, usually in some awkward instance designed for TV laughs, and be questioned about his "intentions". It would usually be that he drops off his date and her parents drag him in and he sits unprepared for this meeting on the couch as her father gives him the 9th degree.

In the past 26 years of my life I haven't had this experience. That tells you of two things: 1) I didn't date much in high school and 2) If I did, I already knew the girls' parents and they knew me. That all changed a few weeks ago. I had to go to Korea to get this experience and to make matters even more complicated, the whole thing transpired in a language that I don't speak. And it was such a great moment!

I was excited to meet Omma. Prior to our trip we weren't even sure if I'd get to meet her. Little did we know that Kira's meeting with her family would turn out so well, that they would connect on every imaginable level, and that there was a mutual love and interest to further develop the relationship. The week and a half before I came to Korea was filled with wonderful stories about Omma and how Kira was slowly finding out more about her. When Kira told me that Omma wanted to meet me, I was thrilled!

Omma met us in Busan along with an Imo-Halmony and Imo-Halmony's son. I saw the resemblance in both physical features and personalities. I like that they have the same tiny ears.

We all went out to lunch near our hotel. We sat at a traditional table where you sit on the floor and the table is lower. I've always had trouble sitting cross legged for a long time because my legs are so darn long. On top of that everything in Korea is small. It made for some good laughs for all of us. Omma, like any good mother, was intent on feeding me lots of food. Everyone's stuffed and there's one more serving of noodles left in the communal bowl? Give it to Amul!

At one point I burned my mouth because the food was too hot and I was too ambitious to eat. When the final course of steaming hot rice porridge was ready to eat Omma and Imo-Halmony emptied out a plate and told me I should spread it out to let it cool so I don't burn myself again. Exactly what my mother would have done:) We all had a good laugh. Of course this all transpired through them speaking Korean and gesturing but I knew exactly what they were saying. Its true what they say, eating meals together is the ultimate social activity to bring people and cultures together.

Later in the afternoon we went to a coffee shop. We all got to speak a little more to each other as Imo-Halmony's son who speaks some English helped translate. At one point Kira excused herself to go to the bathroom. At which point Omma turns to me and asks a question. I look at Imo-Halmony's son to translate and he says:

"So... why do you like Kyung Joo?"

This is it! The life experience I've never had. Being questioned by my date's parents and being caught completely off guard. Except its my fiancée and we've been together for 3 years, not 3 dates and its all happening in Korean!

How do I sum up my feeling for Kira and why I like her? We just go together so well! So that's what I said, "We get along so well, its her personality and sense of humor. We've been best friends for 5 years* before we started dating, and we've been dating for 3 year. We really connect well with eachother. I like her because I like just being with her. " I was hoping that would translate properly and I think it did. As I looked across the table I saw two nodding heads of approval.


*For those of you who didn't know, it took Kira 5 years to realize that I was the right guy for her. For 4 and a half of those years I was the best friend with a secret crush on her. She had been dating a different guy that whole time. She finally realized she belonged with me when I moved away to California. Hopefully its inspiration for all of you boys and girls who have crushes on your best friends. The whole story could be a separate blog/movie.