I have this friend who is a celebrity among South Korean children from well-to-do families. For the equivilant of eight hundred US dollars, South Korean parents can buy their children a box of books, videos, and role playing toys that feature my friend teaching their child to say key phrases like,
"Yes, I can!" and, "Hi! Hello!"
They call her Miss Tracy.
To the best of my knowledge, children simultaneously love, fear, and revere her image. I heard that she signed autographs at a promotional event and one child was so overwhelmed by her presence that he lost the ability to speak and sought refuge in between his mother's legs.
When I saw that Miss Tracy was going to Seoul to film some of the educational segments on location, I thought,
"That's so awesome. I wish I could do that. I have always wanted to be able to tell people that I ate silkworm larvae."
This thought made another appearance when she returned from her trip and posted pictures. The joy and slight envy subsided and life resumed its normal fashion - though I did lie and tell someone that I had eaten silkworm larvae not once, but twice. I reasoned that I would probably never get the opportunity to go to South Korea and, therefore, deserved that one small luxury.
This past August, however, Miss Tracy alerted me that she would be helping English Egg film some new segments in Atlanta and that I should forward her my headshot and resume. A couple of months later, she said,
"Congratulations, Jas! Koreans love you. You're going to be playing a mom. I have attached a script for you to study."
A week later, I was shaking hands with the director and her translator and waiting patiently as they figured out how to tell me and the actress playing my daughter what to do. Miss Tracy was not present because she had another obligation to tend to, but her boyfriend was acting as production coordinator in her stead.
"What do you mean she is going to be sitting on the toilet?" said the girl's real mother when the translator explained that the scene entitled, "Great job!" would entail her daughter flaunting her mad flushing skills.
The director blinked and then looked to her translator. They conversed some more and the director stepped forward and pantomimed flushing the toilet and said,
"Look, Mommy!" in a bright, cheery voice.
"That's all she needs to do," said the translator, "Flush, put her hands in the air, and be proud of flushing the toilet."
I turned to the girl and asked,
"How old are you?"
"Well, that's a good age to be able to flush the toilet all by yourself," I replied. I stuck out my first and said, "Pound it."
She enthusiastically bumped fists and said,
"Wow, you talk really cool!"
After the director and her translator had established that the little actress would be fully clothed and the toilet seat would be down in every shot, they seperated us and explained our blocking. From outside the bathroom, I heard the director say,
"You say, then I say. Then you say."
I could hear the little actress say, "Ok," and understood it to mean, "I actually have no idea what you are asking from me."
"Now you say."
"Mm," she said, putting her finger on her chin, "No... Like... LOOK, MOM-MY!"
It was as if cute, animated emoticons should have erupted from her mouth instead of actual speech.
I appeared behind her and made a big, over the top face and used my fingers to make spirit hands that erupted from my ears.
"Watch me," I mouthed. Then I dashed back to my starting spot before the director had time to turn around.
"Rea-dy?" she asked. I gave her a thumbs up sign.
"Oh-kay," she said, "Go!"
I took three steps, leaned into a bathroom, and with the enthusiasm of an entire season of Yo Gabba Gabba squared to the power of three and said,
"DO YOU KNOW HOW TO FLUSH THE TOILET?"