Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Octopus derives its name from its eight long...

The kind that En-Uk saw...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Two days ago, my seven-year-old son, En-Uk, was pounding at the door, which usually means that he's holding the elevator open because he's just come up but only to tell me something before rushing back down our building's 23 floors

"Daddy!" he cried out. "Come down. There are fish. Buy some and cook them for dinner."

He was talking about the market that comes to our parking lot every Thursday. People sell fruit, vegetables, and meats, including various kinds of fish.

"No, En-Uk," I told him. "I'm making pasta. I wouldn't know what to do with the fish that they sell here, anyway. That's for mama to deal with, but she has to teach tonight. And you need to come in soon. Have you run up the steps today?"

My kids and I run up the 23 floors each day as part of our exercise program, so I don't know what we'll do for fitness training when we move to a small apartment next spring. Anyway, En-Uk admitted that he hadn't done that yet.

"Then, go back down and run up," I bade him.

"Okay," he agreed.

But he was gone for a long time, and as the pasta was growing soft enough for eating, I sent Sa-Rah, my nine-year-old daughter, down to get En-Uk.

"Make sure that he runs up the stairs!" I called.

Some minutes later, Sa-Rah returned, explaining, "He was looking at fish, but he's running up the steps now."

En-Uk arrived after a few minutes, flushed in the face and breathing hard from exertion. The three of us then settled into our places in the living room to enjoy our meal while watching The Polar Express and thus had no time for discussing fish.

The next morning at breakfast, however, En-Uk raised the issue of the fish. At first, he spoke to Sun-Ae in Korean, but we have a table rule. At meals, we speak English, and I reminded him.

"But I don't know what it's called in English," he complained.

Sun-Ae told him, "Then use the Korean word for that fish, but speak English."

"Yesterday," he said, "I saw a nak-ji."

"What's a nak-ji?" I asked.

"I don't know!" he complained. "That's why I'm speaking Korean."

"It's an octopus," Sa-Rah offered.

"Yes," En-Uk agreed. "An octopus."

"And why," I asked, "was this octopus so special that you had to rush up yesterday to demand that I buy it?"

I was taking a sip of my coffee when En-Uk replied, "Because it had eight really long testicles."

I nearly choked but somehow managed to swallow normally enough. Sun-Ae smiled ... and even Sa-Rah knew that En-Uk had misspoken, and also smiled. At their faces, I had to laugh, a hearty, deep laugh.

En-Uk looked at me ... uncertain and somewhat bewildered.

When I'd recovered enough, I told him, "Tentacles, En-Uk. Not testicles. Tentacles."

At which point, Sa-Rah wanted to know precisely what "testicles" are...

9 Comments:

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous The Pope said...

Here I am, in trouble with the liberals, and you are writing about octopi instead of explaining to bloggers what I really mean.

 
At 4:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Finally, you write! Pope, I was just complaining to another blogger that I never hear from you -- despite my close reading of your ambiguous words in a Herculean attempt to defend what you really meant.

Now, you've gotten yourself into more hot water. You should check with me first before you broach a controversial topic.

Now on those "'weak and deviant' unions" mentioned in the article that you're dissatisfied with, I assume that you're not referring to labor unions. Unless you mean the labor pains that accompany childbirth.

Yeah. Maybe that's it. You meant labor pains.

What you meant was that we should avoid the "weak and deviant" labor pains and go for the "strong and ortholinear" ones.

Explain to the press that you were talking about the need for European couples to have more children -- that's traditional Catholic doctrine -- in order to repopulate Europe with Catholic Christians and avoid the dire Eurabian fate otherwise marked out for Europe's future.

That ought to solve your problem.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:49 AM, Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Whoo-boy! Thanks, Jeffery! Ineeded that chuckle this morning!

Submit that one to "Reader's Digest"!

It's sure to get pubished.

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, they couldn't pay me enough to embarrass En-Uk in that way!

Unless they're paying really a lot...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:30 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Um, he would be embarrased to be in Reader's Digest but not on the world wide web?

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

CIV ... uh, yeah ... um, well, he knows that Reader's Digest is not considered scholarly ... and at least the blog allows us to retain the rights to the story.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:45 PM, Anonymous CaptBBQ said...

This is one of those words that causes no end of confusion. oh-jing-uh, is universally agreed to be squid anywhere, and moon-uh is universally accepted as Octopus, but I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten into an argument with a Korean on whether nak-ji is an octopus or a small type of squid... the best explanation as to why is that is, is that this word must vary between dialects.

 
At 4:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Capt BBQ, I'll ask my wife about this one. I hadn't realized that Koreans have a dispute about the nak-ji's family status.

It looks like an octopus to me, but what do I know?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Capt BBQ, my wife hadn't heard of the confusion, but she suggested that because Koreans eat a lot of oh-jing-uh and nak-ji but not much moon-uh, then they tend to classify the oh-jing-uh and nak-ji together as types of squid.

Obviously, this wouldn't be a scientific classification, nor even one based upon physical appearance, but one based solely upon culinary practice.

But we're just speculating, and you might be right about the dialects.

Jeffery Hodges

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