I woke up dreaming about food. With growling bellies Judo and I wandered over to Platters in a hunger induced state of delirium. Platters is an American style dinner that looks like it fell right out of the 50's. I must admit that they did a pretty good job making the place look authentic. We sat down in the same booth we always do, and I ordered my usual, a mushroom swiss burger-without onions or pickles--IN KOREAN followed by my English translation.
After I ordered, Judo looks at me, smiling and says, "You're cute." This was not one of those moments, like in a movie, where the guy professes something really loving or just shows how much they like the girl. Instead this was a moment when I, once again, find myself laughing at my attempts to learn the language and/or truly accept the culture and country in which I live.
Apparently, I was cute because I said,"양파, 피골, 배꼽 주세요." Translated quite literally, I basically politely said, "Onion, pickle, belly button, please give." Of course, what I meant to say was "양파, 피골, 빼고 주세요," or "Onions, pickle remove and give please." I followed this by saying to the adorably dressed waitress, "I really don't like them," and she smiled and nodded. The problem here is in the pronunciation. There are double consonants, ㅃ, and single consonants, ㅂ. The double consonants sound "harder" and are said with more force. Regardless, she seemed to understand what I was trying to get across.
Now, what I got was a mushroom swiss burger WITH ONIONS and pickles on the side! What makes me crazy about this place is that I get the same thing almost every time I'm there, but they rarely can get it right. I thought I had expressed, quite clearly, that I didn't want onions, and why would they bother even putting the pickles on the side?
In conclusion, this is not a case of miscommunication, but rather just another example of bad service--if she didn't understand what I had intended to say, then WHERE WAS THE BELLY BUTTON (배꼽) I ORDERED?