(Third day of the O Henry series.)
Day Three: Je m'appelle Shiwon
Henry always knew there’d be some kind of language barrier when the other members of SJ-M accompanied him back to Canada. What he didn’t realize what type of language barrier it would be. For example, he knew that Donghae, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun would have the most difficult time conversing with his parents while Hankyung and Zhou Mi had it much easier. Shiwon, he discovered, belonged in the middle. Actually, Shiwon belonged on his own playing field and, unfortunately for Henry, he didn’t realize this until he was out shopping with Shiwon.
It was day three of their vacation and the others, relishing in it being a vacation, wanted to sleep in. Henry, however, knew that his parents would never – NEVER – let him sleep past 8 o’clock, even on the weekend. So, while the other members were still asleep, Henry began doing chores. At some point between landing in Canada and that morning, his parents had some kind of revelation that their son was back and therefore, would be able to do chores again. Also at some point during that same time frame, they decided it a brilliant idea to make him catch up on years’ worth of chores. He was not amused.
He was steadily sweeping the stairs when he heard a creak on the second floor. He glanced to the top of the stairs where Shiwon stood, dressed for the day. He lowered one foot to the first stair, but before it made contact, Henry yelled out,
“NO!” Shiwon immediately retracted his foot, “If you make the stairs dirty again, hyung, I swear I will kill you and they’ll never find me! I speak several languages, I can survive anywhere!”
Shiwon raised his amused eyebrows and just nodded, leaning against the wall and waiting for Henry to allow him to go down the stairs.
Henry blinked, “That’s it? No reply? No argument? No pulling rank?”
Shiwon grinned so that his dimples showed, “Henry, I’m not Kyuhyun.”
Henry nodded as he finished sweeping, “Well, you might as well come down the stairs. I’m sure my parents will make me sweep them again later tonight.”
Shiwon slowly trudged down the stairs, yawning as he stretched his arms upwards. “I could use some coffee – Canada… Canada does have coffee, right?”
Henry slanted him a peculiar look, “No hyung, we actually just drink maple syrup in the morning.”
Shiwon’s thick eyebrows rose high into his forehead, “I knew that, I just thought there’d also be coffee.”
“What? Hyung!” Henry sighed as he turned and threw his broom and dustpan into a broom closet, “Come on, hyung; don’t believe everything Kyuhyun tells you about Canada!”
“He used to be so cute and innocent,” Shiwon shrugged, “I forget sometimes that Kyuhyun is not the same maknae he once was.”
Henry shook his head as he headed for the front door, slipping on his sneakers as he did, “Yes well, I can start correcting another one of Kyuhyun’s lies; we are going to get coffee.”
“Oh, they also have coffee shops here too?” Shiwon grinned excitedly as he pulled on his own shoes.
Henry sighed as he grabbed his keys and gestured for Shiwon to precede him out the door. “I don’t even know if I can dignify that with a response.”
“Is it a traditional coffee shop?” Shiwon inquired after walking in silence for a few minutes.
“I’m almost afraid to ask… what does a traditional coffee shop entail?” Henry inquired tentatively,
“Well!” Shiwon began, his eyes lit with anticipation, “It’s built by logs and there are animal furs on the ground.”
He ran a hand through his hair, “Sorry, but this is about as traditional as a coffee shop is going to get in Canada,” he said as he stopped suddenly.
Shiwon stopped beside him. They were in front of a small, single-level, and brown building. In thick, red cursive, ‘Tim Hortons’ was emblazoned across the top of the building. “Oh, oh! Can I order?” Shiwon asked as they entered,
Henry blinked, “Can you order?”
Shiwon nodded as they slowly fell into the small line of customers, “I’ve been practicing for weeks!”
“Really? But you only speak mandarin to my parents…” Henry stated,
“Oh, Henry, you’ll be impressed,” Shiwon grinned as they followed the line to the counter, “I think I’m pretty good. Of course, I have no one to talk to with it.”
Henry blinked again, “Talk to me, then!”
“I wanted it to be a surprise… but okay,” Shiwon cleared his throat before talking tentatively and with an accent, “Je m’appelle Shiwon.”
“Oh dear God,” Henry muttered,
“It’s not right? Okay, okay… Je… Je suis Shiwon,” Shiwon grinned at him,
Before Henry could even say anything, they had reached the cashier and, to his horror, Shiwon turned to the girl at the cashier and greeted her, “Bonsoir – er – Bonjour Madame.”
The girl gaped at him.
“Erm… Mademoiselle?” Shiwon attempted,
The girl looked back and forth between Shiwon and Henry, not knowing what to do.
“Il y a un problème avec mon française?” Shiwon looked at the girl, holding up his hands in a questioning gesture. “Je suis désolé. Je connais un peu de français.”
Henry finally stepped in, “Sorry about my friend,” he said in English, “Can I get two large coffees, double-double?” She nodded fervently. Henry paid and pulled Shiwon to the side to await their coffees, “Shiwon, not all Canadians speak French.”
“But… it’s a national language. Kyuhyun didn’t tell me, I researched!” Shiwon exclaimed,
“Okay, let me correct myself: not all Canadians speak French after ninth grade,” Henry explained as he was handed their coffees and he gave one to Shiwon, “I don’t even remember my French anymore.”
“I learned another language for no reason!?” Shiwon gaped as they exited the coffee shop and started walking back to Henry’s house.
“I’m afraid so,” Henry replied, sipping his coffee.
“Il s'agit d'un outrage. Je ne peux pas croire que je parle votre langue nationale mieux que vous!” Shiwon exclaimed before taking a small sip of his own drink.
Henry blinked, “What?”
“I said good coffee,” Shiwon lied, a scowl still on his lips and his thick eyebrows still furrow.
“It is,” Henry grinned, “This is what I’d call traditional Canadian coffee.”
“Oh! So it’s made of maple syrup!” Shiwon grinned, momentarily forgetting the French incident.
Henry sighed, casting his gaze to the sky above, “Mon dieu!”
(Day Four: Damn You, Mr. Sun!)
Je m'appelle Shiwon/ Je suis Shiwon = I'm called Shiwon/ I'm Shiwon.
Bonsoir -er- Bonjour madame = Good night -er- Good day ma'am.
Mademoiselle? = Miss?
Il y a un problème avec mon française? Je suis désolé. Je connais un peu de français. = Is there a problem with my French? Sorry, I know a litte french.
Il s'agit d'un outrage. Je ne peux pas croire que je parle votre langue nationale mieux que vous! = I'm so angry. I can't believe I speak your national language better than you!