(Seventh day of the O Henry series.)
Day Seven: The Big Nickel
It was Friday and Henry’s parents, who had taken the day off, had shoved all the SJ-M members into a rented twelve-seated van and began driving off to Sudbury, Ontario to begin sight-seeing. As they drove towards northern Ontario, the members took in the countryside, the landscape slowly growing more blanketed by snow and the temperature slowly lowering the more they drove on.
After an almost five-hour drive (traffic, Henry explained, was always horrible around his city, even on the highway), the members and Henry’s parents arrived at a town in Ontario called Sudbury.
“So what’s in Sudbury again?” Hankyung asked,
“A big tourist attraction in Ontario,” Henry’s dad explained, “It’s a giant nickel!”
“What’s a nickel?” Donghae asked,
“Oh, I know!” Hankyung said, “It’s when Canadians eat pickles which are dipped in maple syrup! They would have called it a ‘mickel’ but it’s a bit awkward to say, so they call it a ‘nickel’!”
Henry’s dad was silent as his mother turned in her seat to gape at the SJ-M leader. Henry, however, turned in his seat to glare towards a specific member, “Kyuhyun!”
“Shh!” Zhou Mi said, having been sandwiched between the two younger members, “He’s sleeping!”
“Fine,” Henry muttered before sitting back again in his corner of the van.
“Um… Hankyung, a nickel is a Canadian five-cent coin,” Henry’s mother explained. She turned back to face the front, “And in Sudbury, there’s a very famous nickel. It’s 30 feet tall!”
“Ohhh!” The non-Canadian-non-sleeping members exclaimed.
“It’s one of the landmarks Ontario is known for,” Henry’s father continued, “The others being Niagara Falls and the C.N. Tower; we’ll take you all there later this weekend.”
A few silent moments passed in the van when, finally, the van came to a stop. The members excitedly spilled out of the van – Zhou Mi taking a few moments to wake up Kyuhyun despite Henry’s urges to just push him out – and waited for Henry’s parents. The seven young men patiently walked behind Henry’s parents who explained the history of the nickel and its significance to Canada and even the entire world.
Once before it, the men stared at the giant slab of metal, their eyes sweeping over every minute detail on the big nickel. Finally, Kyuhyun, who had been in a post-sleep stupor, stated bluntly,
“I don’t get it.”
“Were you not listening to Henry’s mom?” Shiwon asked, a slight scold in his voice as he raised a thick eyebrow to emphasize his inquiry,
“Oh, I was and I understand why there’s a big coin and what it stands for,” Kyuhyun insisted, “But I still don’t get it. How can a giant coin be considered one of the major monuments in Canada?”
“It’s because it’s so big,” Hankyung said matter-of-factly,
“But wouldn’t a giant igloo or beaver make more sense?” Kyuhyun challenged. He looked at Henry, “Why not a giant maple leaf? It’s on your flag!”
Henry looked at him and slanted him a defensive look, “It’s not like I’m the one who said ‘Hey Canada, let’s build a giant coin to commemorate how Sudbury is the nickel mining centre of the world!’.”
“Well,” Kyuhyun put his hands on his hips, “Why weren’t you?”
Henry blinked, “Because I wasn’t born yet… have you been taking shots of maple syrup again? Maybe you were eating ‘mickels’?”
Kyuhyun, recognizing the reference immediately, turned his attention back to the big nickel, “No. And I still don’t get it. How does this big piece of metal attract tourists?”
“I don’t know,” Henry said honestly, “And for some reason my parents still take me, my brother and sister up here every year to see it.”
“See,” Kyuhyun looked at the other members, “Even Henry doesn’t understand the nickel, and he’s Canadian!”
“Yeah,” Henry sighed, “I don’t get it, but the big nickel’s kind of a big deal.”
“Hey! When you guys are done here, we’ll take you all out to eat some beaver tails!” Henry’s dad said before shuffling back to the van to escape the cold wind.
Henry could feel the members’ eyes on him the moment his father mentioned the delicious pastry. Slowly, hesitantly, he turned just as the other six members crowded around him. He held up his hands to stop them from blurting out their worries – whether or not Kyuhyun had filled their heads with more lies – as he was sure they would do.
“It’s not what it sounds like,” Henry insisted, “It’s like… bread, but a dessert or treat.”
“You make bread out of beaver tails!?” Ryeowook gasped,
“See! I told you they eat beaver,” Kyuhyun stated smugly, crossing his arms about his torso.
Henry ran a hand through his hair, “No, no… okay, Canadians eating beaver is about as real as a ‘mickel’.”
“I want to try that too,” Shiwon spoke up, “Maybe we can get some Tim Hortons coffee?”
“Ryeowook-hyung, there is no beaver in a ‘beaver tail’. Kyuhyun, we do NOT eat beaver! And Shiwon,” he looked at the older man, the only one who had been rational the entire day, “Yes, we can get Tim Hortons coffee.”
He winked at Henry, “I always keep a small bottle of maple syrup for whenever we get coffee now.”
Henry sighed. Even Shiwon had failed him.
(Day Eight: The best letter in the alphabet.)