So Gee told me I had to get gifts before I met her father. "I will buy the gift. Just come to the store," she said.
I came to the store. She bought some lotion for her dad. I bought some cookies for her brother and sister-in-law, who were also supposed to be there for the big meet and greet.
"You don't have to buy them anything," So Gee harped.
"Okay," I said. "But this way it's like Christmas. I am Pirooz Claus."
So Gee told me to wear a suit to meet her dad. She said this was out of respect. I figured it was because of tattoos and asked her about it.
"Yes," she said. "That too."
I figured I'd go along with the charade. I got a bit grumpy though when the thermostat was peaking at 95 degrees.
"It's hot, " I said.
"I'm sorry," she said.
When I arrived to meet So Gee's father, her brother was the first to greet me at the door. "You are in trouble, I think," he said, with a very distraught look on his face. I wasn't worried though. Her father seemed immediately a nice man. There was some confusion as to what would happen next, but before I knew it, So Gee grabbed my arm and said, "I think we need to bow to him."
"Okay," I said.
"Spread them thin," she said. "Then put the sesame seeds inside."
"Your English is perfect," I said.
"Oh, thank you," she said.
"It's much better than my ability to make these rice cakes."
"You need to make it bigger," she said.
"Okay," I said.
I told So Gee's father the history of my family and myself. I told him how I was in a rock band, got a degree in writing, produced television, and met her daughter. I didn't think about what I was saying. I just told him what I thought would be important to know about me.
During one point of the interview (ahem), So Gee's brother looked at me incredulously and said, "You are a good boy," he smiled. "He thinks you are a good man. That's what he said."
"Good," I said. "I'm glad."
I think the whole event went well. Supposedly we talked for five hours. It seemed like a few minutes to me. I was making rice cakes one moment, and then being invited to future family events the next.
"Do you want to come meet some of the rest of my family tomorrow?" So Gee asked me. "You are being invited."
It was Chusook, Korean Thanksgiving. We drove to her eldest aunt's home. Then the entire family drove to a restaurant in the countryside. I was introduced as "OPIRUS" - the name of a car made by Hyundai. "Just take away the 'O', " one family member said to the other.
That made me laugh continuously. "Yes!" I said. "Oh, Pirooz!"
The youngest of the family spoke English, but were very cautious about their new uncle. It wasn't until I sang "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King that they started to smile a bit more.
"Why are you making animal noises?" one nephew said.
"I like to make animal noises," I said. "It's also easier than speaking English. We can just speak animal today."
I tried to communicate with the chickens near the restaurant. None of them wanted to run away with me.
One of So Gee's cousins (above) is a producer of Korean films. I was invited to come to a production at the end of October.
"I would love to have you there," she said.
"Yeah, it'd be great," I said. "Can I take pictures?"
"I'll clear it with the director."
Her daughter constantly clung to her mother's leg the whole day.
"She is afraid of men," So Gee's brother told me.
So Gee's mother and aunt had fun relaxing in the shade. Every once in a while they would make a joke about me and laugh. I liked that. I had no idea what they said. It made me feel like Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves". I liked that feeling.
So Gee's father announced that his son and I would fish for the family after lunch. I tried to accommodate his wishes. They had no fishing gear, and I was ill-prepared in the shoe department. I cut my feet pretty badly on the sharp rocks in the river bed. I wasn't mad about the suffering I went through though.
"Now I know to wear sandals while walking through a river," I told So Gee.
"Good," she said.
One of So Gee's uncles got a raw egg from the hen house. He poked holes in either side with one of my pens and drained it in "one shot".
Like almost all of So Gee's family, he was a school principal before retiring.
So Gee's uncle (above) is told that he must drink an egg by his wife (right). They are full of love and playful. In fact, these two seem to be my strongest supporters. The uncle spent some years in Iran, and seems to draw a connection with those times and the Persian he sees before him now. He jokes with me, while she often smacks my arm and says something I can only assume is humorous and playful.
One of So Gee's aunts is still a functioning school principal. She fell asleep in the shade. I couldn't resist doing strange hand motions around her head to bring her back from the dead.
No one seemed to mind my reverent irreverence.
Everyone soon took a nap once the fishing, egg drinking, and chatting had finished. I was asked if I wanted a beer. I said, "No."
I think So Gee's mother was pleased with how the past two days had transpired. She walked me to a taxi and held my hand.
So Gee called me later that night. "I am proud of you," she said. "Things went so well. I'm surprised. How are you? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I said. "Your family is nice. I don't mind hanging out with them. As long as it's two hours at a stretch, I can handle anything."
"Well, you better get ready. We're going to have a family trip in October. That's three days with my family."
"As long as I can get a nap or do something different after a while, my body will be okay."
"Okay, babe. I'll see you tomorrow for tennis."
"Okay," I said.