Watson’s Last Stand
My eyes locked with Watson’s across the sea of graduates. Slowly, he began to make his way over to me. I don’t even think he was really walking, it was like he was just gravitating closer to me. As the distance between us slowly closed, I started to think back to the interesting history me and this kid have had over the past 3 years.
For my self-introduction to the students, I put on a red cape and became an English teaching superhero. Don’t ask. After one ichinensei class, the then unknown Watson walks up to me and, come to think of it, blocks my exit from the classroom.
Him: Hey, that’s a cool cape!
Me: Thanks. It’s my superhero cape.
Him: Let me see it!
Me: Well, I really have to get back to the teachers room.
Him: Mine! *he snatches the cape out of my bag* Now I’M the superhero!
He drapes the cape around his own shoulders. I tried to get it back but he ran out of reach. I pursued a little bit, but Watson showed he was serious about this cape – he took off sprinting down the hallway, with the cape majestically flapping behind him as he went. I chased him for maybe 10 meters before giving up. On a hot, muggy summer day in Kyoto you don’t really even feel like existing, let alone running the 100-m dash in pursuit of a 12-year old Japanese boy wearing a Superman cape. I figured it would turn up eventually, and if not, it wasn’t that expensive so I could always buy another one.
I was in the teachers room later when another teacher, the art teacher I think, came back with the cape.
Her: Um, excuse me? New Mr. English teacher? Hi, one of my students had this in my class, I heard it was yours.
Me: Ah, my superhero cape! Thanks, I was looking for that.
Her: Ah. Your superhero cape?
Me: Yeah. I’m an English-teaching superhero.
Her: English … teaching … superhero
Me: Yep. Red cape.
Her: Right. Welcome to Japan
One of the teachers invented a new take on the old reliable quiz game – race quiz game. We have the kids form groups and move to the back of the room. I’ll ask a question, and the first group to answer gets the most points for the question. The groups answer by sending one representative up to me at the front of the classroom, and whispering the answer in my ear (so that the other groups don’t hear). While this sounds all normal and safe in theory, the concept had one fatal flaw – we forgot to take into effect just how heated Japanese schoolkids can get. The kids do not calmly walk up to me, no. As soon as they realize they know the answer (or at least something they can use), it becomes a NASCAR-Battle Royal race to the death in order to get to me. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to face 5-6 Japanese teenagers charging at you like the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line. Eat your heart out, Brett Favre.
So despite the very real risk of mortal injury or death, sometimes we play Race Quiz Game. I guess this is Gaijin Sacrifice or something. I once asked the kendo teacher if I could borrow some armor for English class, but she gave me one of those looks before informing me they only had kids sizes. I wonder what the other non-English teachers must think of me? They don’t see what goes on in class, so all they see is stuff like me chasing a kid down a hallway with a Superman cape, trying to keep Watson from grabbing my dick/poking me in the ass between classes, and coming back to the teachers room winded and limping and shit.
Anyway, I digress. It’s really only my ass on the line, as the Japanese teachers do a wonderful job of hiding themselves in the nearest corner. I was playing with Ms. Americanized 2 once, and before the Melee Wavedashing started I noticed her trying to squeeze in between the TV shelf and the wall in the corner.
Me: Hey! What are you doing? Get out here!
Her: No way. I don’t wanna die.
Me: So you’re leaving me to the wolves? Hell no, you get out here and quietly face your tragic fate like a normal Japanese person.
Her: Nuh-uh, I’m gonna live. But I will make sure your legend lives on in song.
Me: This is revenge for World War II, isn’t it?
Usually, this is the ONE time I don’t have to worry about Watson, as he’s not that good at the English games. However, one time, I asked a question, as while the other students were stumped (and unable to rhino-charge me), Watson realized he just may have had an answer. And as a look of “Eureka, I’ve got it!” spread across his face, I’m sure a look of “Ho shit I’m gonna die” spread across mine. Remember that Watson is by no means a small kid. Watson took off like an Olympic sprinter, I’ve never seen him move that fast. Within moments, he’d closed the distance but did he stop? Oh no. In fact, mutherfucka went airborne. Seriously, no part of him was actually connected to the Earth by the time he barreled into me. I got Kamikaze’d.
I woke up a few moments later on the floor under the chalkboard. It took me a few more moments to remember my name, which country I was in, and how I ended up on the floor of a Japanese school anyway. I noticed all the other kids standing back, they’d also found an answer, but hadn’t charged forward. Instead, they were frozen in horror at what had just happened. Clearly in shock, I did the only thing I could think to do at the time – stood up and continued to do my job. I’m a teacher, damnit.
Me: Alright. Still alive. Anyway, what’s the answer?
Me: Yeah. To the question.
Me: The question I asked.
Him: What question? I forgot.
Me: Oh my God.
I was leaving a sannensei’s class when Watson suddenly teleported in behind me and jumped on my back.
Me: Augh, hey, geez! My collarbone *just* healed.
Him: *Just* healed is still healed. Now, onward to the teachers room!
Me: I’m not gonna carry you to the teachers room, you got legs!
Him: But you are headed to the teachers’ room, right?
Me: Yeah, but not with you on my back.
Him: That may have been your intention, but here I am now, so you just have to learn to deal with it.
So yeah, we’ve had an interesting history together. As he closed in on me after the graduation, I tried to imagine what he might try to do, a classic Kancho/Dickgrab struggle? Another Mortal Kombat Raiden torpedo attack? Jump on my back and have me carry him off into the sunset? Despite all the things we’ve been through, I have to say he did something even I wasn’t expecting … he tried to poke me in the dick … with his diploma.
Granted, it is only a jr. high school diploma, but still. I can’t think of any one time I’ve ever received a diploma and then thought “sweet, 4 years of hard work have come to this! Now it’s time to use this to go poke someone in the crotch!” Japan’s teaching me a lot about a world I just never knew.
Needless to say, he was unsuccessful. C’mon, three years of honing my Ninja Dodgedick skills, I’m not gonna get defeated by an ordinary straightaway attack, diploma or otherwise. I parried the attempt, then put Watson in another headlock. Seeing as how this would probably be our last meeting, there was something I just had to know.
Me: Ok, I gotta ask you. Three years it’s been. Three years of kancho, dick-grabbing, horseback riding, watch-stealing, antagonism. Why? That’s all I need to know, why?
Him: Because it’s interesting.
Me: That’s it?
I loosened my headlock, but still kept an arm around him and lead him off. “What are you gonna do to me?” Watson asks somewhat nervously. You must remember, he was the recipient of The Unholy Kancho, a kancho so legendary it will take another 10 years of CGI advancement to be able to faithfully produce it in movie form. Was I going to up the ante? Go for something completely new? After all, this was my last chance – 3 years had finally come down to this.
“Let’s take a picture,” I said.
Good luck, kid.