They gave ME a fork [short story]

Here is a short something I just wrote. I imagined it could be used in class somewhere (especially in Korea or Japan).  Some brief notes follow.

They gave me a fork. I can’t believe it. They gave ME a fork.  When I came in to the restaurant I even said hello in their language. Do they think I am fresh off the boat? Do I look like I don’t know what I am doing? Do I look like just another foreigner? I think it’s so rude they just think I can’t use chopsticks. They don’t even know me. I have been here long enough and I was pretty good with chopsticks even before I came here!  I am so angry. I don’t think I can even enjoy my food. I don’t want to eat food prepared by people like this. They see my white skin and think I don’t even know basics like using chopsticks. It is so frustrating. I like living here but things like this really piss me off. It makes me want to go back home. I would understand if I just got here yesterday or if I hadn’t made the effort to learn the culture and the language. But I am different. I’m not like those other foreigners that come here and expect it to be just like home. I’m here for the cultural experience and part of that is eating with chopsticks. I practiced a lot and I think I deserve to be treated differently than people who just got here. I really don’t know what to do. I guess I will have to find a new place to eat lunch.  

Stats:  

I was aiming for 250 words or so and it came out to be exactly 250. That was nice.

I was aiming for a Flesch Reading Ease of 90 and it came out to be 89.33 so I will call it close enough.

Other stats:
(All from here.)

Coleman Liau index: 4.39
Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 3.39
ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 2.2
SMOG : 7.18

I also played around a bit with http://www.lextutor.ca/ and got this tasty morsel:

Chopstick has 1 natural occurrences in 10000000 words, but 4 occurrences in your 262-word text, which would work out to (4/262) x 10000000 = 152672 occurrences if your text were the same size as the corpus. The word is thus 152672 / 1 = 152672.00 times more frequent in your text than it is in the reference corpus. This probably means that the word plays quite an important (or ‘key’) role in your text.”

Author’s notes: 

  • I thought this might be something interesting for students to respond to. Even though it is only 250 words and written in relatively simple language I think and hope there is a lot to respond to there.
    It seems to me that an exploration of cultural expectations would be a possible direction.
  • Piss me off and (fresh) off the boat are likely expressions I would give special attention to as a teacher because it seems they might be more challenging than the rest of the language.
  • I used the word just 5 times (5 times out of 250 words) so that is something that might be interesting to explore (especially as the meanings were  bit different in each use). 
  • I have never been angered by someone giving a me fork.
  • In real life, I received a fork yesterday and just smiled and used chopsticks
    (because I thought it was easier for that particular meal). I didn’t take it as an affront.
  • Update: Fun pronunciation possibilities playing with stressing different words in the title. THEY gave me a fork.  They GAVE me a fork. ect. ect. ect.

 

13 comments

  1. breathyvowel

    What I left out of my feedback post was the fact that, after careful consideration, one of my students wrote that the most useful part of the course was learning about stress and intonation. She then considered even more carefully, and came to the conclusion that the most, most useful thing I had taught her was the phrase “piss off”.

  2. ratna

    Nice one…reading stuff u write makes me feel like ” oh shucks ive got a long way to go” sorta feeling..in a good way that is….

    Oh btw, ive sometimes appreciated being given the fork especially on days dat i felt voraciously hungry…

  3. G. Hall

    Ahh, I wish I could “like” some of the comments here.

    I did get offered a fork the other day at a galbi (갈비) restaurant, and found it puzzling because….(wait for it)…the person who asked me “would you like a fork?” (in Korean, mind you) said that while walking towards me, looking at me, while I was…(wait for it)…using chopsticks adroitly.

    Seriously.

    That’s why I found it bizarre. That’s why I felt a bit offended (at that moment, yes). It’s the only time I can recall being offended about being offered a fork. Otherwise, I know the speakers have no reason to know whether I can use chopsticks well or not, but in that case, the speaker clearly could. And offered the fork anyway. Because? (talk amongst yourselves, I’m verklempt)

  4. Pingback: Cool things that happened today | ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections
  5. ALiCe__M

    Love this : simple and to the point, great for intonation and stressing words, and of course an excellent starting point for intercultural awareness ! and it’s funny, too, with colloquial language included ! and there are very few “stream of conciousness” texts available in ELT or FLE. If you agree, I might translate it into French to use in class myself !

    • mikecorea

      Thanks so much for the comments and support. I have been thinking about making a few more attempts at fiction and this is great motivation for me. 🙂

      I would be honored if you translated it into French and used it in class.. I’d love to hear how it goes!

      As you might have seen, my mission with a lot of these texts is as a starting point and I thought this one might be an interesting starting point for some intercultural discussions.

      Thanks again for the comments and it is very nice to connect with you!

  6. Pingback: The Importance of Teaching Culture to EFL Students | ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections

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