Sunday, November 11, 2012

Asia's Italians

I went to the housewarming/birthday/post-divorce party of a professor friend last night and met some interesting characters from her department between the drinks table and the chilled shrimp hors d’ouevres.  One was a linguistics professor from Spain who taught in Greece for years before earning her doctorate and spending almost a decade at the University of Hawaii.  We ended up talking about Korean drama, which she said is extremely popular all over east Asia, with some Japanese fans actually learning Korean they are so obsessed (hmm, sound familiar?). As a fundraising contribution for some worthy cause, a Korean student of hers in Hawaii had offered a two-hour video-clip enhanced seminar, complete with Korean food and drink, to explain kdramas.  The professor was one of five to bid on it, and the winners were all entranced.  She told me that I was the first person in DC she’d me to express an interest, but that I did was simply proof of its wide appeal—she had previously assumed it was just popular amongst the people in the Pacific because of their geographic proximity.  I responded that although I was not on Facebook, I saw at the bottom of the DramaFever homepage a lot of “likes” from girls in hijab, so it was popular in the Middle East, too. 
Would you disassemble a piano if your contact lens dropped between the keys?  And if your parents arrived home to find the piano in pieces, how would they react?  The wife of my friend’s interior designer (considering they’ve been friends for years, I hope he is not charging her designer prices!) told me that when she got her first pair of lenses, back when they were ruinously expensive, she was practicing and one fell out, into the piano.  She took it apart.  And what was more remarkable was that her parents didn’t freak out when they came home to find keys all over the carpet.  And she did have the presence of mind to reassemble it after she found her lens. 

Lastly, I talked with the daughter of several generations of Muscovite lawyers, a professor herself, with a teenage daughter and a toddler son.  She said she’d always assumed that the whole difference between boys and girls was nurture, not nature, until she’d had her son.  He’s been a little ball of testosterone from birth.  Drat those genes!
Culturewise, the Spanish professor told me her opinion of Korean men: “They are the Italians of Asia. Very emotional.”  Also handsome, and, she implied, more trouble than they are worth.  After all, American guys really are the best on the planet.

Speaking of American men and their culture, both of my brothers have succumbed to their inner rednecks and become deer hunters.  Only my Atlanta brother has had any success thus far, whereas Bob claims that the best call to attract the wiley beasts would actually be a recording of traffic noise, since deer are frustratingly elusive in the woods but always seem to show up, grazing in unconcerned herds, on the sides of busy highways.

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