My co-teacher asked me to buy some flyswatters this afternoon. I scampered across the street to Yeongwol’s version of the dollar store.
After a thorough casing of the store, I didn’t see any flyswatters. I saw dog leashes, giant kimchi containers, hangers and sewing kits, but no flyswatters. Just to be sure, I thought I’d ask.
Then I realized that I didn’t know how to ask for a flyswatter. I turned to the next available option, which was mime.
“Bug,” I said, making a small circle with my thumb and forefinger. “Fly.”
The shopkeeper stared intently at me. He had been drafted into a game of charades.
I traced the outline of a flyswatter in the air with my fingers, then grabbed the imaginary flyswatter with my left hand as I continued to imitate a fly with my right.
“Swat,” I explained, bringing the flyswatter down, hard, on the fly. “Whack!”
“Hairbrush?” the man asked.
Time to try another tactic.
I conjured the fly again, this time with sound effects. “Bzzzzz,” I said. “Bzzzz.” I threw in a wing flap for good measure.
“Whack!” A world of pain was delivered onto the fly.
“Bzzz, whack! Bzzzz, whack!”
Another employee had been watching with interest. “Aaah!” she said, followed by a Korean word that I couldn’t understand. We both looked at the man.
“No.” My shoulders slumped. Then I had another idea. “Can I draw it? Kerisayo?” I mimed drawing.
He thrust a pen and small notepad into my hand. I could see that he was just as eager as I was to reach common ground.
I drew a small flyswatter with an arrow pointing towards a fly. This was my last hope.
“Aahh!” he said, his eyes lighting up in recognition. “Butterfly!”
“Yes!” I cried.
Our cultures merged as we simultaneously swatted imaginary flies with our imaginary flyswatters.
The man put down his flyswatter and chuckled.
“Opsoyo,” he said.
We don’t have any.