The Wrath of Cha

May 31

Last week I was chatting with my mom over the phone when she casually brought up the fact that my stepdad’s birthday was Thursday. “Kuht birthday this Thursday,” she said, “and it be nice if you call and wish him happy birthday. Or send him card. No, call him. He so nice to all my kids and send money for all you birthdays! Thursday. You call.” I told her I’d ring him up on his birthday (though I suspect this gesture is more to make my mom happy than for her husband’s benefit). After a busy week and amidst an even busier weekend, my mom left a voicemail message for me on Saturday. It basically sounded like this: “Rebecca! Where are you? …..you supposed to call Kuht on Thursday, wish him a happy birthday! What happen? …..call me back. Mommy sad.” CLICK Oh shit. Shit. SHIT. I forgot to make the “happy birthday” call. Mom was going to kill me. There’s nothing quite like the wrath of a diminutive Asian woman. She was pissed and I was afraid. I knew I’d have to call her back and sit on the receiving end of a verbal beatdown, but since I was dreading the conversation, I didn’t return her call until Monday, at which point I figured I’d have to at least let her know I was alive and well and was instead only avoiding her out of fear for my own life. Jason and I were on our way to a Memorial Day dinner, so I called my mom while he was driving. Ring ring…ring ring… Me: “pleasegotovoicemailpleasegotovoicemail…” Mom: “Hello?” I cursed under my breath. Me: “Hi Mom, it’s me.” Mom: “REBECCA!!!” I gulped. Mom: “WHERE ARE YOU?!?!!” Me: “I’m on my way to a barbecue…I’m sorry! I forgot to call and I’m sorry!” Mom: “All my kids and grandkids call Kuht and wish him happy birthday…except one.” Me, sighing: “I know, I just totally forgot. I’m really sorry.” Mom: “I call and remind you last week and you forget to call??!” Me: “I know. I’m sorry.” At this point Jason is laughing over how many times the word “I’m sorry” has been uttered in a 90-second timeframe. Mom: “Maybe...

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K is for Kimchi

May 23

K is for Kimchi

For Mother’s Day I sent my mom a bouquet of flowers from the local florist in her area. She was so tickled and impressed that I used a local vendor instead of some big stupid Internet company and declared me the flower victor over my sister, whose bouquet from 1-800-Flowers “look like-a beat up!” (She did keep the plastic vase my sister’s flowers came in, naturally, because my mom is a hoarder and because she “didn’t have a green vase.”) Another gift I sent Mom was a t-shirt that said “K is for Kimchi!” because I thought it would be a funny thing for my tiny Asian mom to wear. I ordered the t-shirt and had it shipped to her but didn’t tell her because I wanted it to be a surprise. Naturally, I received no mention of the shirt because Mom┬ánever tells me anything. Finally I caved and called her. Me: “Hey, did you get a t-shirt in the mail?” Mom: “Yeah. K for the kimchi?” I chuckled. Close enough. Me: “Uh, sure. When did you get it?” Mom: “Saturday.” I called her on a Monday. Me: “And you didn’t wonder where it came from?” Mom: “Yeah, I wonder. I ask Kuht if he buy for me. He say no. I say, ‘Damn Kuht, you don’t spend money on this stuff! Save you money for better things.'” I like how she thought, “Maybe my husband got this for me,” and once that trail led to a dead end she just gave up and assumed the shirt was standard-issue to all Koreans from the government or something. No questions asked. Me: “I ordered it for you as a Mother’s Day gift.” Mom: “How it send to me? No note or anything!” Me: “I just put your address as the shipping address. I wanted it to be a surprise.” Mom: “Wow, you send me gift card [for her birthday] to Costco, and-uh flowers, and-uh tee shirt. Is too much!” Me: “Nah, it’s fine. You don’t think the shirt’s funny?” Mom: “Yeah, funny. I wear it.” Sure enough, a few days later my brother sent me this via text message: She also promised, “I eat kimchi while wearing shuht.”...

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Mom’s Urgent Phone Call

May 04

I live in Seattle, which is three hours behind Michigan in time zones. Normally when my mom calls, it’s later in the morning on the weekends or in the afternoon if it’s a weekday. She almost never calls too early because she knows about the time difference. Were she to actually phone me up earlier than 9 am, I’d assume it would be due to a family emergency or something urgent. Last month I was in Colorado for work (which is two hours behind Eastern Standard Time), and I was driving to the office when my phone started to ring. I fished it out of my purse and saw, to my surprise, that it was my mom. It was about 7:30 am PST and 8:30 in Colorado, on a weekday no less, so getting a phone call from Mom at this hour during the week was highly unusual. My mind immediately started to race with worst-case-scenario thoughts. Was someone injured or dead? Is Mom sick? What’s going on? I hesitated, then picked up the phone. Me: “Hello? Mom: “Hi honeyyyyyyy! What you doing?” Me: “Uh, I’m in Colorado this week. I’m driving to work.” Mom: “Oh, you in Colorado?” Me: “Yeah…” Mom: “You on your way to work now?” Me: “Yeah.” Mom: “Okay! …I’m driving too! Running errands.” Me: “Okay…” At this point I was wondering what the hell she was calling me for. It’s not like I don’t enjoy talking to my mom, especially considering how unintentionally hilarious she is, but this type of call was highly unusual. Mom: “I got a question for you.” Ah, so now the call makes sense. She needs me for something. Me: “Okay.” Mom: “How you spell ‘promise’?” Me: “…what?” Seriously, she called me up early in the morning to ask me how to spell a word? Mom: “I sending card to Kuhrt’s niece. On my way to post office.” Me: “P-R-O-M-I-S-E.” Mom: “Okay, p…e…r…m…s…e…d.” Me: “What? No, P-R-O-M-I-S-E.” Mom: “…p…r…i…m…s…e…d.” Since she stuck a ‘d’ at the end both times she spelled the word back to me, I figured she really wanted to know how to spell “promised” instead of “promise,” so I altered my spelling on the next attempt. Me:...

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