Valentine’s Day long over, I was wondering why convenience stores still had on display Ferrero Rocher, large bouquets of Chupa Chups lollipops and boxed gift sets of Korean sweets. Then I noticed a banner advertising White Day and remembered that Koreans celebrate this additional couples holiday a month after Valentine’s Day. Apparently, it originated in Japan as a marketing ploy to sell white chocolate and marshmallow and eventually spread to neighboring countries.
(Also, it’s Pi Day which means it’s Tim’s birthday and buying a mini pie from the farmer’s market if I happened to walk by one in the States!)
In Korea, women give men gifts on Valentine’s Day so men are supposed to return the favor on White Day. Then the month after on April 14th is Black Day for singles to have a pity party over jjajangmyeon, black bean noodles. While the lady quoted in this Black Day article sounds miserable, crying over noodles about being single, I’m excited for Black Day because I love to eat jjajangmyeon. I’ve never eaten it by myself before though so maybe I’ll go all out and celebrate Black Day this year by going out for jjajangmyeon alone and even cry to myself dressed in black. The thought of it seems mostly delicious and makes my mouth water.
Other than passing out grams to friends and colleagues, the thing I look forward to for holidays involving sweets is the marked-down price of the dated goods post-holiday. That includes Halloween and this past Pepero Day, where I had my eyes on the long Pepero pillows hanging outside the convenience stores. The 7-Eleven inside my subway stop had one left after 11/11 passed but it didn’t go on sale. I ended up buying it anyway.
I asked my grandma to sew it a cover and though she repeatedly told me how much she didn’t like the pillow because of its face, she still sewed it a nice green plaid cover. I use it everyday with another pillow on top to lean against it when I work on my laptop. I also used it once to make it look like I was sleeping under my covers while I slipped out to get groceries from the mart out front—my grandma was napping and I didn’t want to wake her up to have her make a big fuss over me stepping out when it was dark out.
My grandma makes a fuss each time I go out, from nagging when I go for a run in the neighborhood to guilt-tripping and trying to bribe me when I go out for dinner with friends in another neighborhood after the sun sets. Her friends told her that she is keeping me from being able to date. But I would not consider my grandma’s insistence on me not going out as a deterrence to dating.
Sometimes her constant breathing down my neck gets to be too much for me and I start looking up studios but then I think about how this is my only chance to live with her (not that an almost thirty-year-old necessarily needs to live with her grandma), how glad my mom is that I’m staying here with 할머니 and how sad my grandma might be if I moved out. I do appreciate being able to have this time with my grandma. It’s also nice to not have to pay rent but I don’t consider that worth my sanity.
When my 작은 aunt said my grandma is going to be so sad when I leave, I exclaimed, “When I leave? Why? I just stay in my room when I’m home!” I was completely surprised to hear this; I’ve been lacking in empathy for my grandma. She has always had lots of people around, being in a big family, and now with all of her kids grown up, spread out and busy with their own lives, she’s very bored. I didn’t see that until my aunt stated it. And my 큰 aunt said I’ve given 할머니 something to do—she can now keep herself occupied keeping tabs on me. It’s a more fun activity for her than me, despite it driving her to worry endlessly.
Did you notice that this blog post is like the colorful ombre hairstyle that is so popular these days? It starts with one color, White Day, and ends on a different one.