The Mystery of the Balding Anchovy

Like all stories written by women, my story is about a boy. But, don’t worry, like all my stories, it’s nothing sexual.

I never officially met this man, we just happen to work together. I just know his name, sometimes teach classes with him, and that his wife is having a baby, and he wouldn’t look at me if I was doing the Macarena naked, and knows my name is something with an A.

Despite his status as an English teacher, he often consults others before attempting.

At his best, he has the sex appeal of someone recovering from food poisoning. And at his worst, he is imagined as an anchovy by small children. (They also believe him to be bald because he is “too tall for hair.”) He attacks food gifts similar to a baby discovering their own reflection, and has old man grunts when forced to stand, or sit.

I know what you are thinking—Amy, this man sounds perfect, just take that lankly old man to pound town. And let me stop you. Because 1: No. And 2: the fascination is nothing sexual. Not everything needs to have sexual tension you pervs.

Let me also add that this mystery will never be solved. Because that would require interactions with the Balding Anchovy. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some great interactions. Maybe, one day we will have a Freaky Friday situation, and by the end we would finally understand each other.

We are getting there, every day is a little more, then a lot less.

One night he said, “Bye,” when I left.

Two weeks later, he called me Ally.

The day after that, five words: “You need to make copies.”

Until finally, something like a conversation.

[memory music]

I was sitting at my desk, doing nothing.

When I felt it getting darker.

He was standing at my desk, starring at my name tag.

Until finally he gained the courage to say the word.

I turned, and he looked like a child after you tell them you ate their Halloween candy.

He turned away and spoke in Korean to the others for a few minutes.

I’m still sitting here. Doing nothing. Waiting.

Finally, he remembers that I’m there, and says, “The gas man needs to check your house. I need your door code.”

So many words. I finally realized he can speak English.

I gave him the door code.

He said, “Thank you.”

More words!

We haven’t spoken since. The mystery remains unsolved.

Day 160: No words. More tomorrow.

The Singing Anchovy

Day 170: The subject seemed usually happy today. As he was making copies, he began singing, which is usually only something obnoxious chewer (another cog in the machine) does.

I couldn’t tell what the song was. I hoped it was something catchy, like k-pop or American pop. #BTSislife

I can see it now. On stage with V, Jin, Jimin, and the Balding Anchovy, the crowd would scream BA for short. I want to say he has the moves of J-Hope, but he’s more of a Rap Mon.

(If you still don’t understand these references, watch the BBMAs once in awhile!)

I bet he dreams of being on stage with them. I know I do. Go BA! Go BA! Go BA!

Or maybe he got lucky last night. Good for him.

Day 171: I got trapped with the Anchovy in the small kitchen area. He was making coffee, and I wanted water. I wonder if he knows about the obsession. I mean, I definitely spend less time just starring at him now. So that helps.

Instead of just saying something, we awkwardly both try to navigate the tiny space.

I miss the days when I had 30 minutes dedicated to just observing. I would sit and just narrate his thoughts while “making phone calls.”

[inside the mind of the subject]

(two minutes of grunting) These kids are so dumb. And they never stop asking for food. I wish they would just shut up already. There’s so many of them. (more grunting) [singing] I just wanna goo hoOoOme.

I feel like he sings a lot in his mind now. Oh look at me, rambling on like a schoolgirl.

Day 172: Maybe this is becoming sexual. Not sexual like we would ever talk or touch. But this fascination has turned the Anchovy into a tall, sickly prince.

Today, he changed a light-bulb. And as he stood on top of that rolly-chair, with the balance of an Olympic gymnast; I thought, he looks kind of handsome in dim lighting.

For the rest of the day, I watched him as he stared at his computer, looking confused. What a man!

Day 173: Today, he spent 30 minutes starring longingly out the window. I wonder if he was dreaming or just standing there to fart. Either way, I couldn’t bring myself to get my things to go home and waited until he was done.

Day 174: He gave me candy today. And not just gave it to me, but he put it in my hand and touched it. Is it sad that this is the most interesting relationship I have right now? I know, I know.

But he gave me candy.

I’m glad he didn’t say anything when he did, because calling me Ally would’ve ruined the moment.

From Anchovy to Hero

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to swoon.

Full disclosure, this happened to a friend of mine, because nothing this cute happens to me. I just have one of those faces I guess.

Day 180: This is just a normal day for me. He said nothing to me, I said nothing to him. But this day will change everything for everyone.

This is like the first Ross and Rachel kiss on Friends, beautiful and sweet until you realize he’s still with Julie. (I’ve bee watching Friends a lot because I’m a normal human.)

Here we go. Seriously, cannot over-hype this enough.

We have a new teacher at our school so that means she gets to sit through every class and watch the goings ons. It’s very boring. Until, you get that one student that wants to ask this silent observer a question. So when the moment came, you, as the teacher, are so excited to have a break from the constant questions.

The students start the easy questions like How old are you? Where are you from? How much do you weigh? Stuff like that. Then comes the question that stirs up trouble: Do you have a boyfriend? 

The new teacher answers truthfully: no.

Then the student, being the annoyingly inquisitive thing she is, asks “Teacher, are you a lesbian?” And not just asks it, but screams it. So even someone walking by the room to get to the bathroom can hear. That someone was, you guessed it, the Anchovy himself.

Worried about the well-being of the teacher, he rushes to the office to send in reinforcements. He quickly informs another teacher of the inappropriate questioning of the child and orders her to go properly punish the student and check on the teachers involved.

Great story, I know.

And if you are not squeezing a pillow right now out of the cuteness of this story. Then you have no soul. Because this is what K-dramas are made of. This is the that-beautiful-man-has-a-beautiful-soul scene. The only thing that could’ve made it better is if the Anchovy and teacher he rescued shared a glance and the scene freezes.

I promised a “But Ross is still dating Julie” moment, here it is. The thing we learn most from this story is that yes Anchovy can understand English. And more than we thought. So we know that he knows.

Day 181: And if you aren’t swooning yet then you’ll be happy to hear that today he asked me a semi-non-work question, and I answered it.

The Anchovy and the Ice Cream Cone

Day 200: There was nothing to do at work that day. No students. No classes. Nothing for three hours.

I chose to spend this time writing, Grandmaw Ames is a tribute to this time. But the Korean teachers decided to spend this time differently. And our favorite lankly teacher took this time to enjoy ice cream.

I have no idea how he got it. He just appeared at his desk with an ice cream cone, a drumstick to be exact. There was a childhood sparkle in his eyes as he decided what side to bite into first. And there was nothing I could do but pretend to do work on the computer and watch. I failed to get a picture. I really tried.

He ate it surprisingly slow. Like he was a mother of five finally getting time to herself to eat without kids pulling on her.

When he finished, he looked so satisfied yet sad.


So I hopped on the table and started singing “My Humps,” which I know ALL OF THE WORDS TO apparently. Jumping from table to table, singing at the top of my lungs, all the teachers were happy and laughing. When the song ended, the anchovy helped me down and hugged me, respectfully, because he’s married.


“Amy, did you make that worksheet yet?” my co-teacher asked, and I was back in the boring office. And the anchovy was sitting, looking depressed, with his fingers holding up his nose for some reason. He likes to sit in this position. I’m convinced it’s because he got a nose job and needs to hold it up periodically throughout the day so it doesn’t slide off.


Day 202: He has started to dress nicer now. Not the usual tan pants and small, very bright blue shirt. The pants now have patterns, and the shirts fit. Things must be going well at home. Maybe he came into some money recently. I wonder what he looks like when he shops. Is he a casual shopper? Or a treat-yo-self person?

I bet he’s a treat-yo-self based on the amount of packages he gets at work.


Day 205: The anchovy seems to have more energy now. I wonder if he is working out. He is grunting less when sitting and standing. Now he only grunts when kids walk in the room.

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