Black Barbie Chronicles: Bottoms be Caned


One of my co-teachers a few weeks ago wanted to ask me a question. This approach happens more than once. Before I had no trouble helping the dude out and answering his questions. However, Moon Yeoung, let it slip one day, ( oh Moon Yeoung can be shady when he wants to) that Mr. Choi is taking an advanced English course which the school is paying for. It turns out a lot of stuff I’ve been doing for him, listening to him say certain words, giving definitions to phrases, and correcting work has been for this bastard’s course! WTF. Where my money, honey?

After being armed with that knowledge I started treating him differently. I still answer his questions, but I make him work for it. Since he wanted to ask me a question, being the jackass I am, I say no and walk away. This was not a good move. Mr. Choi thought I misunderstood him and ran after me. He stated that he had a question, but not for class. Like that’s better. Anyhoo, I say sure what’s the question and how much are you paying me? This too was bad, since sarcasm goes over his head. He then proceeds to take out his wallet to pay me, and I told him to put it away and tell me his question. Here’s our weird ass conversation below:

Mr. Choi: Lisa, can I ask a question of you? What is cane the bottoms?

Black Barbie: What????

Mr. Choi: Cane the bottoms; the bottoms of caned.

Black Barbie: To quote the Virgin Mary, come again?

Mr. Choi: Cane the bottoms! Understand? The bottoms of caned

No, I don’t understand. Either because I’m slow (that is possible) or because even after all this time I am not accustomed to understanding the Korean version of what passes for English at Sung Kwang’s, I didn’t have the faintest idea what the hell he was going on about.

Black Barbie: Do you mean, like the bottom of a cane?   Like old people use?

I begin to use my miming skills to show me holding a cane. Yes, I did it. So what? No tea, no shade, but for someone who is head of the high school English department, his English, like Middle America is broken. Hell, for all I knew, he could very well be talking about the bottom to a walking cane.

Mr. Choi: No, no, no. Like cane bottoms.

Mr. Choi makes a gesture and then takes his arm and swings it like he’s hitting himself on the ass with a cane. After his little display, I am even more confused and demand he shows me this phrase.

Mr. Choi opens a book called The Big Book of Rewards and Punishments. Why he has such a book is neither here nor there; he has it. Why is this book in school, I’m not sure. It was then I realized he was referring to caning. Remember that big case of the American in Singapore getting caned for I think gum chewing or littering, back in the 90’s? I think my delayed response to his question should not be chalked up to me being a Stupid American. Dear Korea, you will have plenty of opportunities to see Stupid American. Speaking of Stupid American, check out next time when one of my Korean teachers opens the library to read me on the Sea of Japan.

F.M. Laster

“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West

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