Considering this is a fiction blog, almost everything I put up is fiction, even if it’s written in a realistic way. This post, however, is totally true. It actually happened to me last week and nothing is exaggerated. For those of you who don’t know, I live in the city of Jeonju, South Korea. The conversation below took place in Korean, so what appears here is an approximate translation.
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I was walking through one of the outdoor markets on the way to lunch when a woman grabbed my arm. She was older, with a heavily wrinkled face and sporadic, yellowed teeth. She was dressed up in several coats.
Her first question was where I was from. This is not that unusual; it’s the number one question people ask me. Before I could answer, she asked if I was Mexican (that’s a first). I told her I was Canadian.
Woman: You know America?
Me: Yeah, America.
Woman: I don’t know who the president of Canada is, but the president of America is Bush. I like him. He’s four stars. I wanted him to come to Korea before, but he didn’t come. Here, let me write my name down. Do you have something to write with?
Me: I got a pen.
She wanted something to write on too and dug through her coats (proudly showing me the US Air Force patch on one of them) and pulled out a small day planner. She laboriously wrote down her name and her address and then wrote down “To the American President” I had to tell her how to spell the last syllable of the Korean word for “president” which is the first time I’ve ever helped a Korean spell a Korean word. Then on the side she wrote “I am inviting you”.
Translation: Korea, Mrs. Son Il-Kong, Jeonbuk, Jeonju, Geumam 2dong, Block —, To the American President. I am inviting you.
She gave me the paper and told me to be sure to ask him to come. People passing by were giving us looks as she was writing all that down, but I didn’t care. She told me again to be sure to tell him to come and I said I would, because seriously, what else can you say in a situation like that?
Me: You know, the president now is Obama.
Woman: No, the one before the black president.
Me: Okay. (the woman knew who she wanted)
Woman: Maybe you should take a picture for him to bring.
Me: Sure thing. Let’s do that. (I take her picture.)
Woman: What’s your name?
Woman: Can you write that down? (I write down my name, but not my address.)
I almost laughed when she threw up the peace sign.
At that point, I shook her hand and said good bye. I walked away feeling great; it was such a great experience. You might think she was mentally unbalanced and perhaps she was; I can’t comment, since I don’t know her. All I know is that she really wants to meet President George W. Bush.
P.S. I really did email President Bush and passed on her invitation to come to Korea to meet her. The ball is in his court now.