A brief flash of puzzled astonishment crossed my face as 15 hands shot into the air out of nowhere. Behold, the power of a strawberry jolly rancher.
It was not but 10 seconds prior that a lone girl sheepishly raised her hand to tell me simply “I can swim.” No one else wanted to answer the question “what can you do?” As a prize for her bravery, against such odds, the girl was awarded a strawberry jolly rancher. It incited near pandemonium. The classroom tried to buzz with excitement. Except, the young Korean students could not pronounce Z’s, so instead they bujjed with excitement.
I never liked jolly ranchers. As a child, I wouldn’t have raised my hand for anything less than a Reeses Cup. These Korean Students are a different breed.
They fiend for candy the way a vampire fiends for blood. The way they barrage my desk at the end of class, hands outstretched repeating the phrase “candy, please!” borders less on desire than it does on an insatiable thirst. Something genetic perhaps?
A memory of a 10 year old me training my first puppy comes to mind. Dog treats to sit, stay and SPEAK on command. A sadistic thought. Could these kids potentially balance a jolly rancher on their nose?
Perhaps, I could throw it to them so that they could catch it in their mouths. Maybe I could tie their wrists together, with the candy between, and let them fight till the other is left in a heaping pile on the ground in a stupendous display of Darwinian justice. Classroom motivator or my own personal death match? What exactly is the best purpose of candy in the classroom, I wonder.
I remember a story, translated to me over soju and salted beef. It was told by one of the elderly male teachers at my school about his early life, when the Korean War was not yet in history books. As the Americans came to defend the South they brought with them guns, money, and candy. Werthers Originals, I imagine. The task of the boys old enough to leave home on their own, yet too young to have real responsibility, was to follow American jeeps, hands outstretched, and begging for candy. Little did they know Werthers Originals sucked.
As the brief flash of puzzled astonishment leaves my face at the 15 hands, I can’t help but laugh to myself. A metaphor lingers here, I just know it. Fifty years have passed and still Korean Kids are running after the Americans crying out “Candy, Please.”
(A strange man dressed as manbearpig passes out candy to students during lunch. Not a single teacher I asked knew who he was. This was considererd completely fine.)