Thursday, October 6, 2011

Middle Aged Mom @ New Seoul Garden

Adventures in Transracial Parenting
Lily, my 15 year-old Chinese American daughter, made plans to visit a Korean restaurant with her best-friend and a couple of Asian school-mates. I had been wanting to go to New Seoul Garden for ages, so I made reservations for the same evening and brought along her best-friend’s entire family. Our parent table was smack next to the teen table, but amazingly, this was acceptable. Interesting what a teen will let you get away with if you’re bringing money and a Groupon coupon to the party…

The teens had a native Korean speaker with them and basically had their food on the table before my table had figured out the menu. I knew I would have to beg for some menu interpretation help (“and how exactly spicy is very spicy, Jaejoon?”), so I quickly lobbed my foodie questions over to the teens before they shut down on me completely. It worked for a question or two (“explain Chookumi-Bokeum please”) before I got the universal teen vague-look-with-shrug answer. BTW, for future Korean restaurant reference, very spicy means find yourself a burn unit.

My group, three “older parents” and two little boys under ten, had a very exciting time with the traditional grill built into our very low, wooden table. We managed to order ourselves some bulgolgi and grilled the raw beef with our own Iron Chef flair. Because we couldn’t figure out how to turn the table-stove off, we just kept on grilling.

“Hurry up and eat it” said my friend Sam, frantically scooping up well-done bits o’ beef and dumping them on my plate. “Before it catches on fire.”

My mouth was already on fire. A beautiful vegetable tray arrived with our meat, and it featured a tasty kimchi dish. I love cabbage, but this was kimchi stealth cabbage and I was having trouble breathing normally.

“Maybe I need a Korean beer” I gasped to my cohort, and we vainly looked around for a waiter brave enough to come our way.

“I’ll go find our server” Sam volunteered. His wife, Laura, and I watched with real interest as Sam attempted to rise from his floor cushion.  It wasn’t happening, and Sam was in danger of taking a header into the grill.

“Never mind, Sam,” I said. “I’ll go.” I manually uncrossed my legs and made lurching motions away from the table.

“What are you waiting for?” Laura asked.

“For feeling.” I answered. “In my legs. Any kind of feeling.”

The teens gracefully got to their feet while laughing and chatting, and stopping by our table, announced that they were off to the movies. I was relieved they were leaving, because I knew that New Seoul Garden wasn’t finished with my table and the only possible outcome was embarrassment.

“Are they gone?” asked Sam. I glanced across the table at my friend, who was now on all fours. So far, the elegant diners in the other alcove hadn’t noticed us yet, but between the grill fire and us rolling around on the floor I figured it was a matter of time.

I envied the casual, comfortable way Korean adults handled the restaurant’s traditional seating arrangements. The Korean families looked happy…like they could enjoy a good Hwoe-Dupbap, get up from their foot-high table and their legs would still work.

“I think we’re too old to eat here”, I said seriously. Sam was crawling furiously toward a server’s tray stand.

“Sam, get UP,” his wife hissed. “Just ask for the check. We’re scaring people.”

“Look,” I added. “It’s like Sam found himself a walker.” Laura and I sat open-mouthed as Sam grabbed the tray stand with both hands and heaved to his feet.

It felt like a miracle-cure tabernacle moment (“Our brother WALKS!”) and I know Laura and I would have appreciated the splendid humor of the moment more fully if we had been able to stand up ourselves. As it was, rigor mortis was cramping our style.

“If you move I could get to the bathroom,” Laura said pointedly.

“Don’t kid yourself,” I told her. “A bathroom is not in your immediate future. I’m pretty sure we’ll both be right here in the morning.”

My cell-phone rang. It was Lily, checking in from the movie theater.

“Mom? Are guys still at the restaurant?”

“Yes.” I babbled. “We’re enjoying our food... leisurely dining… so tough to leave.” I giggled helplessly into the phone while watching Laura’s two little boys fight to get her to her feet. “And Lily,” I added. “Sweetie…don’t wait up.”

My daughter finally broke her mystified silence. “Mom? Have you guys been drinking?” 

I examined my options. I could pretend to be an irresponsible social drinker, or I could be outed as a pathetic middle-ager clearly in need of assisted living.

“Yep. Alcohol. Lots of it,” I admitted happily. “G-T-G. Partyyyyyyy!”

By Jean MacLeod
Copyright 2011, MacLeod, All Rights Reserved


  1. Hilarious! I am 49 with an 8 year old and a 2 year old! I have already had too many moments like these with many more to come.

  2. Snickering wickedly, my friend! Love it - a wonderful chuckle for the evening, and sadly, more relatable than I care to admit.

  3. Hilarious!! And the years just keep on coming!! gf

  4. Ha ha, I decided to do a cartwheel the other day just to see if my 50 year old body could do it. My 4 year old watched me then asked "why are you lying on the grass?"

  5. Oh Carol, I literally lol'd! Sounds like things I have done...and regretted (but water-skiing used to be so EASY!). Thanks for the smile :)

  6. Loved this! I can just imagine it all. :)