Chapter 6: Pans and Pepper
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody)
(Secret Love Affair - Alice in Wonderland Parody)
Seon-jae stayed up half the night playing the grand piano and slept in late, so when the March Hair came to see him, the ahjumma told her not to wake him. “I'll just peek at his face and go,” she promised mendaciously. But the first thing she did was chuck her backpack at him and yell, “Yah! You jerk! You should have called me!” She jumped on him, grabbed his ears, and pulled his hair. He coped by pushing at her face and getting her in a head lock. Suddenly she collapsed into tears.
“Geez,” muttered the ahjumma, and then called out, “You kids want to eat?” They did. Which was good. She liked to see young people eat well.
“I got my necklace fixed,” the March Hair said cheerfully, waggling it in her fingers. “The Dormouse did it.” It looked uneven. Seon-jae gave her a suspicious look and reached for some more kimchi.
Hye-won had gone to eat with the King of Hearts at his favorite place for ox-bone soup. The air was full of smoke. The soup ahjumma was leaning over the fire, stirring a large pot. “There's too much pepper in that soup,” Hye-won said to herself, sneezing. There was certainly too much of it in the air. The only ones in the room that weren't sneezing were the the soup ahjumma and a large cat that sat on the hearth grinning from ear to ear. “Please would you tell me,” Hye-won asked,” why your cat grins like that.”
“It's a @crazycat, that's why,” she returned shortly.
“I didn't know that @crazycats always grinned; in fact, I didn't know that cats COULD grin.”
“They all can,” retorted the soup ahjumma, “and most of them do.” At this point she took the kettle off the fire and began throwing everything within reach at the customers. The fire irons were first, and then a yellow saucepan and a teakettle.
“Look at that ahjumma! Oh please, watch out!” cried Hye-won.
“I'm looking,” agreed the king. “Find out what days she has off.”
When the ahjumma brought their orders he tried to get her to talk, but she just said, “Tell me if you need anything.” The door creaked open and she wheeled and sent a blue-and-white bowl through the gap. There was a thud and the door shut abruptly.
“I will.” He winked.
“I guess I'll be going,” Hye-won put in hastily, as the ahjumma started to lift a large electric dakgalbi pan.
The afternoon she met Seon-jae at school to practice the Rachmaninoff was the day he left his jacket in her office. That was the time he didn't realize he had no key until he was standing in front of his house unable to get in. He called her for help only to discover that she had found the key and beaten him home. This was when we were treated to the view of the electric meters in the hall, the fluorescent light, the blue-and-white bowls in the sink, the teakettle and yellow saucepan on the stove, and the round dakgalbi pan on the bottom shelf. We saw the bottles of cooking sauces and oils and the jar of toasted sesame seeds. But we didn't see when the light blinked and went out, or when the largest bottle rattled and burst its lid open.
We saw the two of them sitting on the roof looking at the moon and then scrambling to hide when the March Hair and the Dormouse arrived unexpectedly. He went to face them, she hid in a storage shed under a tarp. A couple of alley cats attacking each other just outside her shelter made her jump and scream, knocking over a box and dropping dust and cobwebs on her head. She was at least as loud as the cats. The Dormouse charged out to chase them away. “Go! Go! You little!” One fled to the next roof, the other just disappeared.
The Dormouse went back inside. The March Hair was trying to wheedle Seon-jae into buying her a new chain for her necklace. “Knew it!” he exclaimed. “I knew there was... well... I have something to tell you guys.”
Hye-won thought she was safe when the Dormouse left, but one of the cats startled her again by suddenly appearing on top of a pink duffle bag. It was the @crazycat. “What ever happened with the soup ahjumma?” it asked.
“Oh! Uh... she's going to see him.”
“I thought so,” it said, slowly disappearing, starting with the tail and ending with the grin. Then the head came back. “You found out when she has off?”
“Second and fourth Mondays.”
“Ah,” the head evaporated except for the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. “Well!” thought Hye-won, “I've often seen a cat without a grin, but not a grin without a cat! ”
The Dormouse walked the March Hair home. “I thought you'd cause a scene at least,” he admitted, throwing his arm around her neck. “About that chain...”
Seon-jae went out on the roof, to find Hey-won dirty and a little shell-shocked. “I hate to tell you to wash your head, but...you need to go wash your head.”
The next day the duchess was in a bad mood as usual. “What's with you, Oh Hye-won? Where's my @crazycat?”
“What? The soup ahjumma's @crazycat?”
“Soup ahjumma nothing. It's supposed to be my @crazycat. It was supposed to be me sitting with the @crazycat feeding my baby.”
“Sneezing at the pepper? I don't know where it is; it disappeared. But... what do you mean, baby?”
“You're so annoying!” the duchess slapped her. “You've seen him. Woo-sung. With the plaid suit.”
Hye-won took a deep breath and held her cheek. “Eh-h. Your hands are really strong. THAT baby?”
The @queennafre made her day by piling it on. “What's with your face? You should fix her habit of hitting people.”