The Time My Mom Was Just Like Claire Fraser 

Claire Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, is my absolute favorite female fiction character in the universe (well, she WAS, and then her daughter Brianna was born and Claire became my second favorite.)  And I’m pretty sure Claire is my mom’s favorite.  I’ve been in love with the books for probably 15 years, longer for my mother.  And so one day mom told me this story and I now realize that she and Claire share something in common.  I hope that makes you giddy, Mom.

I don’t know how, in my almost 40 years on Earth, I did not know this story. Somehow in the world of stupid shit and other stories my parents tell, THIS ONE slipped through the cracks.

I was on a short road trip with Mom. We were telling our co-passenger about my mom’s time in Japan. That mom was an army brat and that’s how she and my dad met at teenagers. One of my grandfathers worked on Green Giant helicopters. The other, I think, was an EMT. Our co-passenger was telling us about her daughter’s upcoming trip to Korea and my mom shared a story about her trip to Korea.

Unfortunately I can’t write this story as funny as it sounded coming from my mom. You have to imagine a completely boring tone split by laughter at the statement of “so we slept in a whore house.” Especially if you knew how straight laced my grandmother is and how SHE never told us this story in her matter-of-fact, no emotion, manner.
While in Japan, Grandma and Grandpa decided to adopt a child from Korea. My uncle had been left at a police station when he was 2 and lived in a small orphanage until he was 6 when my family adopted him. The three of them flew to Korea from Japan in the early 70’s, when Mom was 15, to pick up Uncle. At that time there was a midnight curfew in Seoul and everyone was required to be in a residence, by midnight, each night.
When they arrived, and were walking to the orphanage, each time they stopped to ask for directions someone would start petting my mom’s hair. She had bright red hair and it must have been pretty shocking.  When they got to the orphanage my grandparents had to pay money and the people running the place immediately took it to get food.  They were that poor and desperate to help these kids, and so short on funds, that it was spent as fast as it was given.

After my family left the orphanage they headed to the airport but it was too close to midnight and there were no flights going out.  They didn’t have a place to stay so they slept in the airport. No flights were going back to Japan the second night either and so right before midnight on the second night they found the only taxi available that would take them somewhere, after midnight, for a place to sleep.

Well, the only place available was a brothel.

Stock image from


And so they stayed in that brothel. And that’s when my mom got to have the same experience as Claire Fraser in Outlander.  They have both slept in a whore house.  And my mother said, “We slept in a room in the very back so we, you know, couldn’t hear the, uh, business escapades going on in the rest of the house.”
Dudes. My mom slept in a whore house.

The next morning they headed back to the airport. Still no passenger flights. So Grandpa sprung into action. He spotted a pilot buddy and asked for some help. The pilot let them fly aboard his cargo plane, a C-123, that had no insulation, no comfy seats, and no sound-proofing. They sat sideways in jump seats and bundled up in their coats to hopefully help with the cold air. They didn’t have any ear protection so Mom tore up some sanitary napkins and they all put the pads in their ears.

I’m assuming they made it safe and sound (because I was born). I just visited Grandma and Uncle at Christmas and they’re alive and kicking.   But I still can’t get over the fact that this story hasn’t been shared with my sister and I.  Out of all the stories, out of the blue, you tell me you slept in a whore house as if it was completely insignificant and no big deal.  Dude.

Shit, Mom!  What else are you hiding?


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