Busan loses his shit in a fit of giggles every time I mention the fact that both of my grandfathers had farms when I was growing up. It's something my students also tend to giggle at. I guess maybe to them, especially having grown up in the city, being a "farmer person" is just a bit a taboo. I'm not a farmer person.... I just have some farmer person blood and experience, I guess.
Anyway. His friend has decided to drag him to eat dog meat today. I say "drag" because he's fucking freaking out beyond all reason (in my opinion) about it. When he told me, I just answered that yeah, it's summer... it's getting hot. It's a good time for 보신탕. He thinks I'm a complete freak, because there are three things I'm not, which should prevent me from being okay with eating dog: old, Korean and a man. I often brag that I'm looking forward to becoming a world class foreign ajumma. Yesterday he said maybe I'll become an ajeosshi instead.
At lunch yesterday, he brought up the dog meat again and I decided to prove a point about it. He had helped himself to a mixed menu of ribs, chicken, shrimp and half of my hamburger. I started by prattling on, while he was in the middle of eating it, about how shrimp is really like a giant ocean cockroach. I held up the tail of one as evidence: "Look at this! It's totally a bug! With the crunchy shell, like this? Ocean cockroach! That's what you're eating right now..."
He closed his eyes and stopped chewing. "What are you doing right now? I'm paying a lot of money for this food...."
"And have you ever seen a chicken have its head cut off?" I motioned toward his pile of marinated chicken salad with my fork. "Did you know that sometimes the body keeps flapping and running around for like five minutes without the head?"
"Sometimes I can't believe you're really a woman."
I stabbed a piece of chicken with my fork and stuck it in my mouth. "I'm just saying."
"It's because you're a farmer person...."
"It is. You know. Because I face reality about eating meat. All meat comes from an animal -- something that was alive and may have had something that could have closely resembled emotions at one time. That's all I'm saying. I like cows. Chickens can go to hell -- they're stupid and dirty and mean. But cows are alright, and I still eat beef."
He pointed out that when there had been a big ugly spider on my bag in the subway station, I had flicked it off with my fingernails and then forbidden him to kill it. He also pointed out that I used to be vegetarian, and that he was really confused about how I can be so uptight about living things sometimes, and so casual about it at others.
I told him that I thought hunting was excessive and probably a bit wrong, when the animals are just killed for game and not put to good use. I don't see the point in killing something for no reason. But that I don't think it's wrong so long as you make good use of what you take. You honor the animal's life, so to speak, by using its body to provide for yourself and your family. I don't, after all, rank animal life above human life. If I did, I wouldn't be carrying this leather bag, or wearing these leather sandals. Or eating this hamburger.
He's messaging me this morning on his way to the restaurant for further encouragment. I told him just to think of it as beef or lamb because, after all, it's really no different from that. Whether you like dogs or not. I'm proud of him for facing it down. And even happier that now maybe he'll stop telling every ajumma working in every restaurant we go to where we're eating something they say is too difficult for "pretty foreign girls" that I've already eaten dog, so I can't get much lower. This farmer person foreign girl can hang with the best of them. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.