Monday, May 08, 2006

in-class frankness about frankfurters

Today, my MWF 1pm class-- the one with which I'm probably the most relaxed-- asked me some surprising new questions.

We were having an "indoor picnic," of sorts, the original plan having been to head out to the local park for a picnic. "Too hot!" my students declared, so we stayed in our usual classroom to chow down on kimbap and sandwiches. Munching was quiet for a while, then we started talking about hot-button issues like North Korea and the presence of American soldiers in South Korea. At one point, things got humorously gloomy as we speculated on which global powers would be dominant in 30, 50, 100 years. "There won't be any people in a hundred years," one student offered quietly. "Because of war?" I asked. "No," she said, "Because of the environment." Silence, then giggles from everybody as we cheerfully contemplated our impending doom. Given the frequency with which giggles erupt in that class, I don't think the prospect of environmental cataclysm was truly harshing anyone else's mellow.

Then the sex questions-- like nipples in a sudden gust of cold wind-- popped up.

"May I ask you when you saw your first porno?" one student asked. The class had a good laugh when they saw my face.

Then they waited for my answer.

Good Lord, they were curious.

Not exactly ready to broach the subject of porn, I noted that, in my day, a lot of guys would have seen porn by the time they were in junior high (which is a white lie-- I think most of us guys start a few years earlier than that). The conversation moved from porn to perverts-- especially flashers, which are apparently something of a problem around girls' schools in Korea. "Especially when it rains," one sad-looking girl said with a wry smile. Ah, the memories we cherish!

I taught them the necessary vocab for our current topic: flasher, to flash, pervert, perverted, perverse, and so on. I told them that some American movies feature New York City flashers-- guys in ratty trenchcoats who're just waiting for pretty girls to walk by.

The next question to hit me broadside was:

"Do you shave your armpits?"

Well, not entirely broadside. Just before the question was asked, I had jokingly done the Nixon gesture-- the double-Vs thrown carelessly into the air, then pretended to be shocked about armpit hair poking out of my short-sleeve shirt. So, yes, I probably asked for it. Still: I've done semi-gross and fully gross things in previous classes (having pantomimed both booger-flinging and using my intestines as a whip on multiple occasions), but my students don't usually take the depravity and run with it. That's why this pit-shaving question took me off guard.

Pit-shaving gave us a chance to talk about one lady I know who requires that her boyfriends shave their pits-- not down to the skin, but buzzed to a manageable length. We also had the chance to talk about French women and their lack of pit-shaving, which some of the girls seemed revolted by. They were doubly revolted when I mentioned that some guys do find unshaven pits sexy on a woman.

It was a strange hour, I must say. But I enjoyed myself; my students did, too. That was probably the most they'd laughed all semester. Given my lingering headache and the lackluster attendance in my 10:10am class, this weird conversation wasn't a bad way to end the day.



Anonymous said...

De plus en plus de Francaises se rasent les aisselles, Kevin. Les Coreenes, par contre, ne se rasent pas les aisselles tres souvent puisqu'elles ne sont pas tres poilues. (Je n'ai pas de clavier francais et il est heure d'aller me coucher...donc pas d'accents et de cedilles.)

Kevin Kim said...

"De plus en plus de Francaises se rasent les aisselles, Kevin."

Oui-- je suis au courant de ce qui se passe en France. Mais je dois vous dire que la femme d'un de mes amis français n'aime pas la vogue-- et elle n'est pas seule.

Hé-- où sont ces corrections??