Vanessa and I bought our Japanese teacher a Christmas present: a calendar of her favorite Korean actor Bae Yong Joon -- affectionately known as "Yon-sama" to his Japanese fan-base, primarily 50 year old housewives. I delivered it to her before the start of my last lesson. Sensei let out a slight gasp when she saw the calendar's cover, becoming uncharacteristically subdued. "May... may I open it?" I nodded consent. She reverently turned back the pages, fingering the images in a way that was slightly unwholesome. "Have you seen 'Winter Sonata'?" she asked tremulously, referring to one of his most popular TV dramas. She had paused over an image of Yon-sama wearing a suit with an exaggerated cinched waist, holding his necktie up to his lips. The next page showed him in the same suit, but with a more whimsical look, one hand to his ear, tie removed, straggles of hair pulled over one shoulder. "Actually, I saw it in America," I told her, replacing the term 'actually' in my mind with 'sadly'. Vanessa had protested this calendar purchase as being somehow insulting to females everywhere. "Just look at that! He's a woman!" And looking at it now closer, it was rather difficult to detect any stirrings of testosterone beneath the little glasses and lipstick. The cinched waist was clearly meant to accentuate the androgeny, and was rather effective in achieving that goal.
"Katie, you don't like this type, do you?" "Well..." I hated to insult Sensei -- she had actually been on special Yon-sama tours to Korea, and this calendar certainly wasn't the first Yon-sama product for her to own -- but I really don't think I could have come up with any plausible white lie at that point. "He's a little... girly for my taste. What is it you find so attractive about him?" "Yon-sama just seems so kind, so fair." She was allowing herself a few more moments of idol worship before putting the calendar away. "I think he'd be fair even to an old woman like me."