Monday, October 5, 2009

Episode 22: In Which DFM Is A Mime, And Becomes A National Hero

On the five minute walk from the subway to my house I pass no less than three hair dressers. For the first few weeks I was comfortable in my fresh hair cut, and naively felt I would not need to learn how to get a hair cut in Korean from one of them (my hair cut the last time at the Sauna was procured with the help of Lee). However, for the past two weeks I've felt my hair has been getting a little shaggy. Even still, I had let it go this long, but on Thursday I caught Sticker Girl trying to flatten down some of my wild curls that were sticking out worse than Alfalfa's cowlick, so I figured that I could wait no longer.

While I did not know how to say "make me handsome please," in Korean, I did at least know how much my hair cut would cost. A number of weeks ago, one of the climbers at Ace had received a new hair cut and he told me it cost him $8, and that it was the same price everywhere. When I told him in Canada it would cost him over $16 he nearly fell off the wall he was climbing.

Back to today. When I came in to the shop it was empty and the two stylists jumped up out of their seats in surprise (I'm pretty sure I'm the only foreigner they've seen in this neighbourhood). I had planned to stumble through some awkward Korean, but settled on just holding my hair out and making a cutting action with my fingers. The message got through and they had me sit down in one of the chairs.

The stylist asked me if I understood Korean (in Korean obviously), and I responded "a little." It's funny, because whenever Koreans tell me they only understand "a little" English, we are usually able to have a basic conversation. Up until now I've always been saying I understand "a little" Korean, but know full well that if they ask anything more complex than "hello" I'll be lost. However, my studying has really been paying off and I have had quite a few brief conversations in Korean the past few weeks. I can even understand what is being said fairly well, even if I cannot always answer, so I might actually be justified in using the phrase "a little" as a response now.

In Canada, I usually get my mom to buzz my head with a pair of cheap electric hair trimmers that barely work. While I was confident the young professional could make a reasonable approximation of the "roughly even" template left over from my last shear job, I was not sure how I would tell her what I wanted done.

When she did ask me in Korean how I wanted my hair cut (at least I think that's what she asked, all I could understand was "hair") I respond by showing her a half-inch space between my fingers. I assume she took this to mean I wanted it short, but since I heard her say "a little," in Korean, she could also have thought I only wanted half an inch taken off. Either way I wasn't too worried, as my hair was only about an inch long to begin with.

In the end, things worked out well and I'm happy with the results. And what's more, I'll be free from Sticker Girl's fussings for at least another three weeks.

Today was a big day for another reason as well. Some time ago I wrote about trying to memorize the song Superman, by Norazo. Well, it's been about two weeks since then, and after "studying" every day I can finally announce that I, DFM, have memorized and can sing every word of the song. Even though I'm probably the only foreigner to have undertaken this monumental task, I'm fully aware that it is still not likely to help me get a date. That said, the boys at my school will think I'm a National Hero, and that's all that really matters isn't it?

Of course, this means I need a new song to learn. Do not worry though, last week I noticed a really catchy song playing at Ace, and I have copied it on to my thumb drive MandDFM lent me. It's called 달이 차오른다 (roughly Englishised as "tali cha-o-leun-da"), and is sung by the indie Korean band Jang Ki-ha and The Faces.

Now you're probably thinking that I couldn't possibly give you any more good news than that. However, I have a special offer only for those readers who are reading this blog on an electronic image producing device.

For the past many weeks I've been working on my endurance at Ace climbing gym and today I had a major breakthrough. There are two routes at the gym which I have hitherto been unable to complete. One is only 32 moves, but takes place entirely on the horizontal roof of a cave, parallel to the ground. The other is a monstrous 100 move mega-circuit. Normally I lack the endurance to complete even twenty move routes but my hard work and diligent practice must have paid off, because today I was able to finish both of these routes from start to finish.

While I am both happy and relieved to have finally completed the 100 move route (it's Korean name literally translates into "100 Move Route"), I must be careful not to get too confident. Ji-hyeun can complete all 100 moves and then turn around and head the other direction all the way back to the beginning. And, as if that weren't incredible enough, the strongest climber in the gym (who was away on a climbing trip during my last visit to Korea) can go from the start to the finish, and then back to the start again four times. That's 800 moves! He'd better watch himself though. I've really been improving, and in another two lifetimes I think I might be able to match him.

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