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Showtime

July 8, 2005 Leave a comment

At the School of Peace, near the end of the school year the ichinensei do skits based on random sentences from the textbook. They take something like “How many comic books do you have?” and then write a skit out for it. This is kind of an event, as other teachers from around the area come to take a look at the students’ English abilities.

I gotta say, skits are quite possibly my favorite aspect of the job. For a country that redefines thinking inside of the box, the kids sure are creative. I’d wonder what happens to make them into the Borg-like drones they’ll eventually become, but being a part of the assimilation process myself I can see it clearly.

Anyway, here’s some of what the kids came up with. Roughly one zillion times better than Japanese TV.

* * *

This one started off with a King commissioning a knight called… Meatball. Yes, a Knight named Meatball. Meatball went out into the countryside, doing the things that Knights named Meatball are prone to do. However, somewhere in the process he became drunk off his own power and had to be stopped. So then the King commissioned another Knight (this one did not have a name, although I was kind of hoping for Pastrami or something else along the sandwich meat theme) to stop Meatball. They had a fight… which at first consisted of the Second Knight throwing old dirty socks at Meatball, who dodged them in Matrix Bullet Time by leaning backwards and flailing his arms a bit. Meatball then picked up one of those music recorders, and used it as a baseball bat to knock the dirty socks back to the Second Knight, defeating him. The Second Knight retreated back to the King.

Meatball learned of the King’s treachery, and went after the King. There was another brief fight with the Second Knight, and Meatball absolutely walloped him. Meatball then prepared to assassinate the King by throwing more dirty socks at him, but then a Third Knight jumped in front, taking a dirty sock to the chest and dying. This was literally this boy’s only role in the skit, to take a dirty sock for the King. Man, now that’s devotion. If I ever become King of some country, I hope to find subjects loyal enough to take a dirty sock to the chest for me.

So then Meatball and the King got into a fist fight, and the King eventually beat Meatball, which just goes to show… well… I don’t know what really. If it weren’t for the intense action, I’d have no idea what the hell went on in this skit, despite it being in English.

Oh, and the textbook sentence this performance was based on? “This is Ben. He’s an old friend.” I have no idea.

And the boy who played Meatball, yup… that’s his new nickname. I know his real name, knew it before, but now I look at him and “Meatball” is the first thing that comes to mind. I’m not the only one, as sometimes some of the other kids call him Meatball as well. I’ve decided that ignorance is bliss on this one.

Incidentally, Meatball is Snuzzlebunny’s younger brother.

* * *

In another skit, Ultimate Sweetness played Catherine, a young school girl. Catherine’s father came to wake her up for school, but Catherine blew him off to sleep in. Then as Catherine was catching her Extra Five Minutes, some bad funky shit started to happen (as evidenced by the other two girls closing the windows in the performance hall and making storm noises). Something happened to Catherine, but we can’t see it as Ultimate Sweetness has concealed herself underneath a blanket.

Catherine’s father came to wake her again, saying now her friend Alice (I don’t know where they get the names) had come to see why she’s late for school. Catherine finally got out of bed to realize that in those five minutes of extra sleep, she had turned into a cockroach! Ultimate Sweetness lets out a little “Kyaa!” scream as she looked in the mirror, but since it is Ultimate Sweetness, it was just about the cutest thing you will ever hear.

Ultimate Sweetness could never be an actress in a horror movie; it just wouldn’t work. The killer would be closing in on her, and then she’d scream, then the audience would let out a collective “Awww! That’s so cute!” Any and all potential horror would be effectively obliterated. Even Jason would have to put down the chainsaw. “Aw fuck, I can’t kill you. You’re just too cuddly-wuddly!”

Catherine, now horrified to be a cockroach, told Alice to go onto school without her, as she felt sick. She then fell into a crying heap on the floor, sobbing over how horrible it was to be a cockroach. She cried herself to sleep, and when she woke up, she found her father still yelling at her to get up for school. Catherine leaped out of bed, to find that she’s no longer a cockroach. Turns out it was all a bad nightmare! Relieved, Catherine got dressed and went to school.

The moral of the story? Make sure to go to bed early, so you can get up early for school. Or else you might wake up as a cockroach. No really, that was the actual closing of the story, “Wake up early, or you might wake up as a cockroach.”

Damn, if this was true, I’d be one magnificent cockroach by now.

* * *

This skit started off in a bank, with one boy as a teller and another as a customer. A third boy walked in.

Boy 3: This is a robbery! Put your hands up!
Boy 1, 2: Oh no! (They fall over anime-style, complete with their legs sticking up in the air.)
Boy 3: No, that’s legs! (Takes Boy 2 hostage) Give me all your money! Or he dies!
Boy 1: That’s okay. I don’t really like him.
Boy 2: You’re terrible!

Took the words right outta my mouth.

Boy 1: You can kill him if you want to, I don’t care. But you can’t have the money. I will protect it!
Boy 3: Your funeral.
Boy 1: You can’t kill me! I am Mr. Incredible! (Here, he puts on a “Mr. Incredible” eye mask made out of paper).
Boy 3: Let’s fight.
Boy 1: Okay.

Wow. I like how civil that was. “Shall we battle to the death?” “Why certainly!” You really can’t beat Japanese manners I suppose.

They had a short fight. Boy 1, aka Mr. Incredible got his ass whupped.

Boy 2: Oh no! Now I’m done!
Boy 3: You are not Mr. Incredible. I will kill him now. (Goes to shoot his gun) Oh no! I forgot my bullet!
All three: Oh no!

I’m almost certain I read something just like this on Yahoo’s Odd News page at some point.

* * *

Three girls went to an ice cream shop. The first two girls ordered a single scoop, but the third girl (who is, incidentally, Porn Star’s little sister) ordered a triple scoop.

Girl 2: Triple scoop?! What about your diet?
Girl 3: I skip my diet today.

The girls then got their ice cream. For props, they’d made ice cream cones out of paper. They talked a bit while “eating”, and after a while the first two girls folded down the scoop of ice cream to simulate having eaten it. Girl 3 didn’t say anything during this part, simply smiling while eating her ice cream. After a while, she folded down all three of her scoops.

Girl 1: (noticing Girl 3) Wow! Did you eat your ice cream!
Girl 3: Yes! It was really delicious!
Girl 2: All three scoops?!
Girl 3: I couldn’t stop.
Girl 1: …Be careful. Don’t be a fat pig.

Goddayum. Remind me to never eat a triple-scoop ice cream cone in front of Japanese girls.

* * *

Velma Jr. and her friend went shopping in a ritzy New York designer clothes shop. They were being attended to by two store clerks, who were plenty helpful, recommending all sorts of nice fashions to them. For props, the girls simply removed their uniform blazers to use as the clothes they were looking at.

At some point, I guess one of the store clerks got pissed off with Velma Jr. and her friend’s pickiness. She took one of the uniform blazers and, literally out of nowhere, went, “Well, how about THIS ONE!” and absolutely CHUCKED the blazer at Velma Jr. No, I don’t mean she tossed it to her. I mean Randy Johnson fastball hurled that shit. As you might imagine, Velma Jr. got absolutely owned by this now lethal piece of schoolwear. The other store clerk then said, “Maybe you like it in BLACK!” and hurled another uniform blazer at Velma Jr.’s friend. The friend, though, prepared by seeing Velma Jr. get clocked, caught the blazer. She then got a huffy/pissed off look on her face, stomped her feet really hard, and absolutely FLUNG the blazer across the room, shouting, “Well, I never! I don’t never want to shop here again!” I was trying to make sense of that double-negative, but decided this was something I didn’t really want to get in the middle of, lest I get taken out by flying school uniforms.

I don’t know why, but watching 12-year old Japanese girls flinging their school uniforms at each other was wildly entertaining. And not in that way. Although I’m sure there’s a porn director somewhere drafting up a script of this as we speak, if it doesn’t already exist. Watching the rehearsals was even more fun though, as they more or less forgot about the entire first part of the skit, and spent 30 minutes just screaming and hurling their uniform blazers at each other.

At some point in my life though, I would like to use “I don’t never want to shop here again!” while flinging some article of clothing across a store. That’s officially going on my checklist of “Things I’d Like To Do Before I Die.”

Reunions

July 6, 2005 Leave a comment

Being a teacher can be tough, because you can really get attached to some of your kids sometimes. But they graduate and move on with their lives, as it should be. Despite how many new and different faces pass through the classroom, we don’t forget. And occasionally, we get to have a chance encounter with someone from the past, which I always enjoy.

I randomly ran into Velma. It’d been over a year since I’d seen her, so it was a pleasant surprise. The day I saw her, she wasn’t in her school uniform, but rather normal clothes. She’d changed her hairstyle as well, and I guess switched from glasses to contacts. So, you think the Velma vibe’s went away, right? Nope, not only is it still there, it’s stronger than ever. No longer is she “Japanese Velma,” she’s just Velma now, straight to life right out of the cartoon. She’s Velma wearing Japanese fashion, with a different hairstyle and contacts instead of glasses. It was just amazing.

Despite the whole Velma thing, she’s actually going to be quite cute when she gets older. What? Don’t look at me like that! You can say that a young girl is cute without that having some sinister sexual meaning, can’t you? This country actually does make one paranoid about that. I was with a friend at a community event, and we ran into one of my ichinensei students. She stopped to talk for a bit, and after she left we both remarked about how cute she was. There was this weird 4-second silence, and we both said in unison, “But not in that way!” as if we had to clarify that we’re not pedos. In Japan you almost sort of do. Later that day, I was sitting down and this little 8-year old girl climbed up onto my lap. My first impulse was to throw her off and scream, “Bitch get off! Homey don’t play that R.Kelly shit!” before I had to remind myself she just wanted to play with me. What is this country doing to me?

Anyway, back to the reunions. I was at the train station with another friend when I spotted a female high school student on the other platform, and instantly felt something familiar about her. Just as the wheels were clicking in my brain, my friend looked over and said, “Hey, isn’t that your tits chick?”

Yes, “tits chick” is his nickname for Snuzzlebunnies. I have that graduation picture up on my wall in my room, and he recognized her from it. Snuzzlebunnies spotted me as well, and waved excitedly, but then a train came so we didn’t have a chance to talk. She did email me later though. She has my cell phone email, and sends me messages from time to time. She wrote once that she wanted to see my apartment. …Uh, I’ll meet you in the public library, thanks. During business hours.

I am sort of worried though, is she that easily recognizable? Will she be walking around Kyoto one day to have some random tourist walk up and be like “Hey, aren’t you that tits chick? Can I get a picture! Here, stand behind me and start rubbing…”? I really hope not.

I also saw one of Snuzzlebunnies’ classmates another time. When I first came, this girl was a ninensei. She was so cute and shy…she’d run up to me, poke me with her finger, say “touch!” and then run away embarrased and giggling. When I saw her recently, she had her skirt hiked up, her uniform shirt unbuttoned, a ton of makeup on her face, and was hanging out with some guys who were definitely “the wrong crowd.” Sigh. Granted, a lot may still happen between now and high school graduation, but she’s fast on the track to become another makeup-cake, Louis Vitton bag-toting, vapid dime-a-dozen Japanese dinosaur* whore (WHERE IS YOUR YELLOW FEVER NOW?), which saddens me. Especially thinking back to the sweet little girl she used to be, who’d tug me on the arm just to say hello then run away.

And oh, I saw Japanese Jeri Ryan for the first time in a long time. There was some kind of county meeting at one of my schools, and she was in attendance. I actually spotted her from across a soccer field. “That looks like Jeri Ryan,” I thought to myself, but dismissed it as improbable. But upon returning to the teachers’ room, I bumped into her on the staircase. She stopped and asked me how I was doing. The second question out of her mouth though was, “How is your girlfriend?” Yes, it had been THAT long since I’d seen her. And then I remembered why I didn’t go after her. I had the girlfriend at the time… that damned girlfriend. I told her that we’d broken up, and she gave me one of those standard, “Oh really?”‘s where you can’t really tell if the tone is sympathetic or hopeful. I went back to the teachers’ room, and 30 seconds later cursed my slow stupidity in not getting at least her cell email. Oh well, maybe God will give me another chance… another year from now.

I do know where she works now though, but it’s not like I can actually go out there. I’d like to think I haven’t degraded to stalker-like activities. Yet.

*Japanese dinosaur – a term my friends and I have started using recently, but I don’t think we coined it. Japanese girls have this weird habit of carrying their (oftentimes multiple) bags in the crease of their elbow…so then their forearm bends up and off to the side. The other arm is often elevated, either thanks to a cell-phone or… God only knows why. Then they have their feet stuffed into some expensive designer uncomfortable shoes, which makes them walk pigeon-toed. The entire stance is pretty comical to look at, and reminds one of a velociraptor, or a t-rex. Thus, we call these girls dinosaurs. With apologies to the velociraptors and t-rexes for being compared to these brainless slaves of fashion.

Azrael Goes to Tokyo, Part 3

July 5, 2005 Leave a comment

After TGI Friday’s, my friends and I hit the strip and started looking for a good place. We checked out the place I’d gone to the night before, but my friends (and I) weren’t feeling it, so we wandered around some more. We found a place with a lot of people in front of it called Club 911, and it looked bumping, so when the Africans came to usher us in we let them.

The place was crowded. Really, really crowded. You couldn’t really dance without stepping on toes or elbowing someone in the face, so we just kinda swayed back and forth. People were pushing and shoving all over the place. At one point, I was grinding on this girl for 10 minutes… completely accidentally. She was getting pushed from one direction, me from another, and there was absolutely no where else to go. Hey, sure, a little accidental freak never hurt.

However, my feet were still wrecked, and I was getting pretty tired. It was somewhere around 1AM on the second day I woke up at 5AM after not really getting any sleep.

Az’s Travel Tip #19 – Any travel day where you wake up at 5AM will involve you taking a lot of afternoon naps, and ultimately going to bed early.

I decided to take a break, and went outside.

Az’s Legs: Hi. Remember us?

Az: Yeah, I haven’t forgotten you guys.

Legs: You sure? We mean, we thought the blisters and constant pain signals we’ve been sending you the past day were getting through, but instead of resting us now you’re dancing?!

Az’s Penis: Hey! I’ve lost all readings on my Girl Radar… are we outside?!

Az: Take it up with the downstairs crew.

Az’s Penis: What the fuck? We’re not gonna get any out here! Get back in that club!

Az’s Legs: Even if we did, it’s not like the big guy is gonna come through.

Az: Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?

Az’s Penis: It means, you’re a big black guy in Japan and not getting laid on a regular basis. How lame are you?

Az: …Ouch. That was below the belt.

Az’s Penis: It had to be said.

Az’s Heart: C’mon guys, let’s not bicker like this. I know everyone’s hurting and tired.

Az’s Penis: I’m not, I’m ready and raring…

Az’s Heart: Yeah… like I said, everyone’s tired, but we came all the way out here, let’s go back in and give it our best shot, ok?

Az’s Legs: Well, I guess we can hold out a little bit longer…

Az’s Heart: That’s the spirit! Now c’mon everyone, let’s go!

Az’s Eyes: Waitasec though, something’s up…

Meanwhile, one of the African bouncers from inside the club escorted these two drunk, belligerent white guys out. The white guys were screaming about how they’re not done partying and they were macking on these girls or something, but the black guy tells them they’re done for the night, at least here. Three other black guys from outside come to help out. As they tried to escort the white guys away, the white guys got more and more pissed. “Don’t you fuckin’ touch me!” they screamed while getting in the black guys faces.

Az’s Anxiety: Uh-oh. This looks serious.

Az’s Eyes: Are you kidding? This is awesome! This is the kind of stuff we usually download off the internet! “Two drunk white guys get OWNED by Unbridled Negro RAGE! (vid inside)” Now we’ve got front row seats!

Az’s Anxiety: Yeah, but so far we’re the only black guy not involved. And to two drunk whiteys, they’re not gonna care which black guy they start swinging at…

Az: Hmm. You have a point. We might need to defend ourselves pretty soon here. Hey legs, think you got any Tekken 5 moves left in you?

Az’s Legs: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s a good one, Chief. Maybe if you’d given us some decent rest. The best we can do for you now is Battle Arena Toshinden.

Az: The first one?

Az’s Legs: Yup.

Az: Fuck.

Az’s Penis: C’mon! Just walk around them and go back in! Everyone else is.

Az’s Anxiety: Yeah, but the second we walk up there will be the second punches start flying. Let’s just wait it out.

Az’s Eyes: I don’t wanna miss this either.

Az’s Penis: Oh fine.

Some girl came out of the club and succeeded in getting the two white guys calmed down somewhat. They started to walk away, and I found myself relieved that I wasn’t suddenly in the middle of a Roppongi street fight. However, as they were walking away, one of the Africans started taunting them, which caused them both to stop. One of them turned around and started walking back.

Az’s Anxiety: Fuckin-a, why’d you do that? Just let them leave already!

Az’s Eyes: Sweet, the fight still might happen!

Az’s Brain: No way. Two drunk white guys against 4 big-ass Africans? No one’s THAT stupid, even drunk. They’re just fronting.

Az: Yeah, but we should still be prepared for the worst. Legs? Still at Toshinden?

Az’s Legs: You wish. We’re at Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi now. …With a faulty X button.

Az: FUCK!

The white guys eventually did leave, and while the black guys were still pretty hot, it looked like street violence would be averted, for the moment at least.

Az’s Anxiety: Ok, they’re gone. We can go back in now.

Az’s Penis: Fuck yeah! Now let’s go get at least one cheap whore for the night.

Az’s Legs: We’ll do our best.

Az’s Penis: Great, we’re all on the same page! Let’s go!

Everyone: ………

Az’s Penis: Um, we’re not moving.

Az’s Brain: Don’t look at me, I sent the proper signals.

Az’s Legs: We’re ready, but we haven’t gotten any commands yet.

Az’s Heart: Guys, I’m really tired.

Az’s Penis: …FUCK! THIS IS BULLSHIT!

Az: C’mon, calm down already. What are you so worked up about anyway? I got you some last month.

Az’s Penis: Yeah, that was last month. And when was the last time before that?

Az: Umm…January.

Az’s Penis: That’s right. 4 fuckin’ months man.

Everyone: (sigh) Here we go again.

Az’s Penis: You used to hit me up everyday. Everyday! Now suddenly it’s this 4 months crap, this is bullshit! You put me in harm’s way every weekday with those kids grabbing at me and stabbing at me and you’re not even capitalizing on the plentiful resources that are out there! Is this any way to say “I’m sorry”?! You got me addicted and now you’re taking it away?! I need the smack man, I gotta have it.

Az: Look, I’m doing the best I can…

Everyone: BULLSHIT!

Az’s Brain: If nothing else, our friends are still in there. They might be looking for us, so we should go back in at least for them.

Az’s Heart: Yeah, I wouldn’t want them to worry about us. We should go back.

Az’s Penis: Alright! Now we’re talking! Everyone BACK IN!

I went back inside to look for my friends. I found one sitting at a table near the back. He wasn’t really feeling this place, so we found the other friend and left. We wandered around, aimlessly looking for a good spot, and decided on some Motown club. This place was much smaller, and considerably less packed, but still crowded. The crowd also seemed a bit older. I wasn’t into it at all, but my friends wanted to stay for at least a drink.

Friend: Hey Az, you want a drink?
Me: (I nod yes)
Friend: Yes?
Me: (I nod yes)
Friend: Drink? You want a drink?
Me: Sure.
Friend: You sure?
Me: (getting annoyed) Yes.
Friend: You want a drink?
Me: I said yes.
Friend: You sure? Drink?
Me: I SAID YES MOTHERFUCKER! ASK ME THAT AGAIN! I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, ask me one more goddamn time.
Friend: …ok I’ll get you a drink.

After getting my drink, I tried to look for some lockers to put my bag in. As I tried to make my way through, I was getting the life shoved out of me.

Az’s Heart: SHOVE ME AGAIN MOTHERFUCKERS AND JUGGERNAUT WILL FLATTEN ALL OF YOU.

Everyone: …Oh shit.

Az’s Brain: Alert Stage 2! We’re jumping straight to Alert Stage 2! Legs!

Az’s Legs: Tekken 5. Right.

Az’s Watch: Whoa, hold on, what’s going on here?

Az’s Anxiety: Oh yeah, you’re new ’round here, aren’t you?

Az’s Brain: Now, Heart doesn’t snap often, in fact it’s very rare. But when he does snap… it’s not pretty.

Az’s Anxiety: Ever wonder why our closet door is bent? That was the last time Heart lost it.

Az’s Brain: And remember the infamous ex-girlfriend?

Az’s Watch: …You mean?

Everyone: …Yup.

Az’s Watch: Holy shit.

Luckily, I made it into an open space before I got pushed again. One of my friends joined me. We were drinking our beers, when these two girls came up in front of us. …They looked like full-grown midgets. You know how midgets, in addition to the diminutive size, just have funny looking bodies and faces? That’s what these girls looked like, except at normal size. They took each other’s hands and started dancing…if you can call it that. It involved a lot of clumsy stepping and twisting and turning and it looked like someone was turning the pages of a flip animation book in front of us, but the pages weren’t aligned correctly.

Az’s Heart: Heh heh, that’s really goofy looking.

Everyone: He laughed!

Az’s Brain: Okay, seems like some of the tension had slacked off. I’m gonna lower the alert level, but only to Stage 1. We’re still on alert guys, stay sharp.

The two midget whores scampered away somewhere. Next to me, a decent-looking Japanese woman came and sat on a stool, and I guess the guy she’d picked up that evening followed – some Brazilian Sopranos looking guy. If you could make Fat Tony from the Simpsons into a real life person, it would have been him. Meanwhile, another drunk, angry white dude came up and started to get into Fat Tony’s face. He was yelling something, but was too drunk to be intelligible. I think maybe he thought Fat Tony stole his girl or something. Fat Tony was real casual about it, just throwing out his arms and saying something like, “That’s life, go find a new whore”. Meanwhile, some black dude came over and started physically restraining the drunk white guy.

Keep in mind that this is happening, again, within a meter of me.

With the black dude between them, Fat Tony figured it’s no longer his problem and turned his attention back to the girl. The girl had now taken to humping her chair. No, I don’t mean she was dancing on top of the chair. No no no. She was riding that bitch cowgirl, as if there was a penis on that stool and there was no tomorrow. Bouncing it, grinding it, thrusting into it… I’ve seen porn stars fucked less hard than that stool was.

Yes, I was a bit envious of the chair.

Drunk White Guy #3 got particularly loud, and Fat Tony turned back to give him another “get over it” shrug. He and ChairDancer then started dancing. No, I take that back. They weren’t dancing…I don’t know what you could call that. The best I can do is “dry-humping with a lot of twirling.” The black dude got Drunk White Guy #3 to calm down and have a cigarette. Before I could see where this all went next, my friends decided to leave again.

We ended up at another club, but at this point I was completely exhausted. I ended up falling asleep at the bar until my friends came and found me around 4AM. We left, and I slept in my friend’s car for about an hour, before going back to Tokyo Station and heading home.

After all is said and done, I can only impart a few simple things from my experiences in Tokyo: never carry murder weapons in your bag, wet-wipes are a wonderful alternative to showering, and always carry some sort of blister-popping tool with you. Oh, and don’t eat chili dogs for breakfast, that just ain’t right.

Azrael Goes to Tokyo, Part 2

July 2, 2005 1 comment

Having struck out at the club, I now slept at the base of Tokyo Tower. Outside. There were some young people hanging out in the area, but I didn’t think much of them. I slept lightly, drifting in and out. At one point, I thought they came over to mess with me… but I don’t know if this happened or if I dreamt it.

At some point, a black van drove up and parked just a few meters behind me. At about 3:30, I was awoken by a loud noise. I turned to see that some of the kids had slashed one of the tires on the van. Literally seconds later, a police car came by. The kids tried to run away, but the police eventually caught them. Another police car pulled up and parked directly behind me. I didn’t know if it was ok to be sleeping on the bench like that, so I just sat up. A male police officer came my way. He said good evening to me and I returned it. But I made it look like I was just another random tourist who didn’t speak Japanese. He got that vibe, and with his natural Japanese fear of English kicking in, he walked away… but didn’t leave the area yet.

Meanwhile, yet another police car pulled up. This time a policewoman got out and started talking to me. She told me that it’s ok for me to sleep on the bench, but that I should be careful because there was a murder in Roppongi that night and the murderer was still on the loose. I did not know that. She then started asking me questions like where I was from, what I was doing in Tokyo, where was my ID, etc. She was really nice, so it took me awhile before I realized I was actually being questioned. I think I finally caught on when she asked if I was carrying any sharp knives in my bag. Only in Japan will the police ask you if you happen to have the murder weapon on you.

My answers were satisfactory I guess. The policewoman again warned me to take care, and they were off. I thanked my Lucky Charms I didn’t end up being a murder suspect. I went laid back down, and slept lightly until about 5AM. Since the trains were running, I decided to head out to my next location, Ueno Park. I was still sleepy, so I figured I’d find somewhere nice to sleep there. I bid my Tokyo Tower sanctuary goodbye and was on my way.

Az’s Travel Tip #4 – If you ever find yourself in a position where you don’t have access to a bath or shower, alcohol wet-wipes are the next best thing.

At this point, my feet really hurt. A lot. I wasn’t wearing walking shoes, and had done a whole lot of walking. I was hoping that having rested for a few hours would have helped, but they were still in a lot of pain, especially my right foot. I decided to check it out later.

At Ueno Park there were NO good places to sleep. And there were a lot of old people roaming around doing their morning exercises. I found a somewhat decent rock and laid down again. It was starting to rain very lightly, but not enough to actually get me soaking wet so I paid it no attention. I woke up with various different bugs crawling over me. I shook them off and headed to the station. I was looking for a Starbucks, but somehow I couldn’t find one (which was strange… there’s a Starbucks every 10 feet in Japan). I eventually settled on a Hard Rock Cafe, and had a chili dog for breakfast (Yes. A chili dog. For breakfast.).

At Hard Rock, I was finally able to take a good look at my feet. As I feared, both were blistered up pretty badly. I had one on my right foot that was making it hard to walk. It was right between my big toe and the ball of my foot, and filled with pus. I decided that one had to be popped. Sadly, blister-popping tools weren’t among the things I packed with me on this trip. I almost wished I had the murder weapon from before, maybe I’d be behind bars somewhere in Tokyo but at least I wouldn’t have this giant pulsating blister anymore. I took a quick look around Hard Rock. Nothing really useable…except for maybe the utensils. I briefly considered using one of the butter knives, or the fork. But then my mind jumped ahead, and I pictured the following conversation…

Doctor: So, you tried to pop it…with a fork?
Me: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Ok, maybe not. Another scan didn’t produce any better tools. I did find toothpicks, but again I could clearly envision the above conversation (substitute “fork” with “toothpick”) so abandoned the thought.

I left the Hard Rock cafe around 11, but unfortunately it was raining quite hard. I didn’t feel like buying anything else, so I went into an Irish bar in the station. Here, I put my Batman-like ingenuity to work, and used my keychain to lace a small hole into the blister, effectively popping it. Popping that blister helped a lot, but my feet were still in bad shape.

Nonetheless, I decided to at least try to get on with my day. I went to Harajuku hoping to find something interesting, but it was nothing more than wanna-be trendy, boring clothes shops (I don’t see what Gwen Stefani is wetting her panties over). I headed out to Shinjuku, and decided to just chill in an arcade for awhile. Japanese gamers are known to be among the top players in the world. While the best of the best didn’t frequent this particular arcade, there were still some good players there. I did allright, even winning a few games.

Eventually I left to find a bank and meet up with my friends from the night before (who were now ready to go clubbing). As I was walking the street, I noticed a foreign guy taking a long, hard look at me. Finally, he spokes up. “Hey, don’t you have a website about teaching in Japan or something? Aren’t you that Azrael guy?”

…Hoooooly shit.

I’m still chalking this one up to random coincidence, though. I don’t really believe I have any e-celebrity status or anything like that. It’s hard to tell though, because most of my days are spent with my friends who could care less, and Japanese people who have no idea. I am starting to wonder if, when I go back to the states, people will be walking up to me and saying stuff like, “Aren’t you that Kancho guy?” I did always want to be famous, but most certainly NOT for that.

My friends and I had dinner at TGI Friday’s in Roppongi. My Australian friend had heard of a Philly Cheesesteak, but never actually eaten one. He decided to give the one on the TGI Friday’s menu a try. That cheesesteak peaced him the fuck out. It looked like it was going down his esophagus kicking and punching. To his credit he finished it all, but he definitely looked like the loser in a prize fight.

God bless American food.

After eating, we began to mentally prepare ourselves for the Godlessness that is the Roppongi strip…

To Be Continued…

Azrael Goes to Tokyo, Part 1

July 1, 2005 Leave a comment

I had no work one Thursday and Friday while the kids took their midterm exams. So I headed up to Tokyo. A friend was there for a work conference, and I kind of wanted to get away. Otherwise, I made no arrangements– simply packed some essentials in a bag, scribbled down the names of places I’d like to see on a piece of paper, and took off.

I took an overnight bus which put me at Tokyo Station on Thursday at 5AM. I spent the next hour looking for a bathroom. Despite being the largest train station in Japan, it is disturbingly devoid of bathrooms. When I finally found one, it was CLOSED UNTIL 7:30. “Fuck you!” I said aloud. Once I finally gave up and just decided to go on with my trip, I immediately found one open.

My first stop was Tokyo Tower, where I napped on the benches outside until it opened. Once inside I silently prayed to myself that Godzilla wouldn’t attack that day. I kind of think Japanese people secretly hate the Tokyo Tower, because it’s always the first thing to get taken out if Godzilla/aliens from the Dark Kingdom/invading forces come to Japan. At one point, I was in an elevator full of little old Japanese ladies who were literally half my height. Seriously, their heads came up to about my belt. It was then that I realized that I was Godzilla, and since I had no plans of attacking I had nothing to worry about.

I also visited a temple in the area, went to see the Yokohama port, took a nice afternoon nap in a park, and toured to a Ramen Museum. When I met up with my friend and his Japanese friend, they were partied out from the night before and planned to just take it easy. This was my first night, so I wanted to go out. I stayed while they had dinner (I was stuffed from the ramen), and played around in an arcade for a bit, then I went to Roppongi to go clubbing.

For those of you who have never been to Roppongi…God does not exist in Roppongi. There is no God out there, that nigga gone fishing. There are African guys lined up all down the street, trying to usher you into some club or sex shop. Just look at them and they’ll start walking with you trying to get you into their club. Add to that a plethora of sleazy foreigners and dirty Japanese tricks, and you have the God-less Roppongi.

Well, at least the club/party section, I hear the residential parts are quite nice.

I dumped my bag off at the club I planned to go to and went to a nearby McDonalds for a strawberry shake. I took a seat, and soon after this guy in a business suit came in, followed by two crack-whore looking Japanese women. He gave them his business cards, and it was apparent this was some kind of arranged first meeting. Curiosity got the best of me. I listened in on their conversation.

I couldn’t hear all of it very well, but from what I could gather, the guy was trying to recruit these girls for either porn movies, or the hostess industry. At one point, one of the girls said, “But, all my past boyfriends have complained that I’m a cold fish in bed”. The guy assured her that this was ok. Then, both girls said they didn’t want to have sex with old men. The guy asked how old, and they said over 50 was a bit excessive. The guy told him that 50 year olds weren’t that common, and they offered an extra 10% pay increase if they have to fuck any guys over 40. The girls seemed satisfied over this. The guy told them they could start tomorrow, which thrilled them. He then got a phone call, which on his end went a little something like: “Two more…how old? …Seventeen? Great! Perfect. Hold them right there, I’ll be finishing up here in about ten minutes I think.” They were talking quite loudly. Even if they assumed I couldn’t understand their Japanese conversation, they were talking loud enough for all the other Japanese people to listen in if they were so inclined.

I finally headed to the club, which was a sausage-fest at first– at least 5 guys to every girl. The few girls that were there were horrid. There were three standing in front of me… one was an outstanding whore. Not only was she wearing a whore’s uniform, she had Captain’s studs on it. The second was chubby. Eh, not that that’s a bad thing (I like my women with some meat on ‘em, and living in Japan I’ve really come to appreciate that). It’s just that she was obviously a club slut, so I hold it against her. The third was a grandma. Literally, this woman looked old, I’d say not a day younger than 45 at least. Granted, I have nothing against older women, but she was clearly up there a few years. And a club slut.

I started to think about a theory I’d been working on earlier in the day. We have a very clear and distinct rating system for attractive girls… but we don’t really have anything for the other end. I was thinking of a beer scale, as in how many beers would it take for you to actually want to hit it. I figured we’d use 3 beers as the norm – whoever you wouldn’t fuck sober, you still wouldn’t fuck 3 beers later. Only after 4 beers would the goggles start working. So if you said “Man, that’s a 4 beer chick”, it would mean she’s the best of the worst, something like that. A 12-beer chick then, would be absolutely appalling.

Anyway, Captain Whore went around standing next to random guys, waiting for them to talk to her. This left Chubbs and Grammama sitting next to some dopey looking white guy, Goober. I got a beer, but it tasted nasty so I downed it quickly and bought another. Grammama went off somewhere, leaving Chubbs by herself. I took a good look at her and thought “You know, her face is kind of cute though.”

…Oh God, did I actually just think that?!

I despaired at myself for a moment. This was only my second beer! What was wrong with me! But, wait! I forgot, I’d had two beers with my friends during dinner. Ah, there we go. I was actually on my fourth beer. Wow, the system works surprisingly well! I was pleased with myself over my findings.

Goober finally worked up the courage to start talking to Chubbs. It didn’t take long for Chubbs to start holding his hand.

“Dude, if you’d talked to her first that could have been you…”

Did I just think that again!? Holy shit! This is bad. Real bad. I gave a silent thanks to Goober for taking her away before I did something stupid. Meanwhile, Grammama came back to find Chubbs and Goober busy, and silently became the third-wheel.

“You know, Grammama kind of has a decent rack…”

Ho-oly fuck! I need to move, NOW. I picked a different area of the club to loiter around in. Later, more girls did show up, mostly of the Garden Slut variety. There were a few I could have talked to, but at this point I was just out of it. I’d been up since 5 in the morning, touring around all day, and my feet hurt quite a bit from walking around so much. I decided to just leave the club.

I didn’t have a hotel room. I was sort hoping my lodging situation would take care of itself, which would have been cool. Since that didn’t happen I was now a vagabond. I saw Tokyo Tower off in the distance. Well, it was good to me before… why not? I walked back there, to the benches I’d slept on before. Using my bag as a pillow, I decided to just sleep there. There were some youngsters hanging out, but I really didn’t think much of them as I went into a light sleep. Little did I know my night wasn’t quite over yet…

To Be Continued…

Michael Jackson Juice, Revisited

June 28, 2005 Leave a comment

Forehead of Steel teacher (also known as Ms. Big Headed Boyfriend) came over to my desk to talk about the lesson plan for the sannensei this week. It’s the “Would you like another piece of cake?” lesson, which of course instantly reminded me of the “Michael Jackson Juice” incident from last year’s sannensei. I started to laugh about it, and she laughed as well even though she didn’t really know why she was laughing.

I later told her the MJ Juice story, and showed her the picture I’d taken with my phone. She actually remembered it, since it took place in her class. She told me she had asked the two girls what in the sam hill MJ Juice was. Apparently, it’s really sweet… oh! and strawberry flavored.

I. Really. Don’t. Want. To. Know.

Ms. Forehead of Steel and I were talking a bit about Michael Jackson, and she commented on how a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), he looked very different. “Yeah, that’s when he was actually black.” I said. “Yes,” she said, “now he is very white. Maybe that’s what Michael Jackson Juice is… it’ll turn you white.”

At long last the mystery has been solved! Michael Jackson Juice is apparently bleach. Strawberry flavored bleach. With the power to make a cute little negro boy into a haggard-looking creepy old white woman with a tender spot for young boys. Not your mother’s Clorox, nosirsee Bob.

Ms. Forehead then asked me to never ever drink MJ Juice, and please stay black. Shit, don’t have to ask me twice. Later, I saw Ms. Forehead telling Ms. Americanized about the MJ Juice. The look on her face was absolutely hilarious– a cross between befuddlement and pure, abject horror. I asked Ms. Americanized about it later, and she said, “Michael Jackson Juice… I don’t want it.”

It’s official. Three out of three English teachers do NOT recommend MJ Juice for a long, healthy lifestyle.

* * *

I was talking to Ms. Americanized about the news. Japanese news is… well… special. I don’t know about the news in other countries, but in America, our top stories are dominated by how many people were killed in what horrible crime. Or, some horrible accident, and how many people were killed in the process. Or, old Mrs. Henderson’s cat was stuck in a tree, and how many people were killed in the process.

Japan doesn’t have nearly the murders or the crime that America does. Japan does have crime, but they don’t particularly like to talk about it. Sure, you get the big news stories, but all the little ones are kind of ignored. So the news ends up being much tamer, like, “Synchronized Swim Team Conducts Another Successful Practice,” and “Little Boy Loses His Cat Under a Car,” and “What People Are Eating in Their Box Lunches.” These are actual stories I’ve seen on the news.

The previous day, the headline story was about Japan’s sudden heat wave. It went a little something like this.

Anchor: Japan has been hit by a very sudden and early heat wave. Temperatures were high all across the country. In Tokyo it was a sweltering 37 degrees (98.6F).

(Cut to on-site footage in Tokyo. A reporter interviews random people on the street.)

Old Man: It’s pretty hot today. I’ve been sweating a lot.

Two Young Girls: It’s way too hot.

Young Man: It’s very hot today.

Anchor: It was also very hot in Osaka, a blistering 34 degrees (93.2F).

(Cut to on-site footage in Osaka. A reporter interviews random people on the street.)

Young Girl: It’s really hot.

Old Woman: It’s pretty hot today.

More Young Girls: Today is so hot…

Anchor: And, let’s take a look at how hot it was in Hiroshima, at 35 degrees (95F)

(Cut to on-site footage in Hiroshima. A reporter interviews random people on the street.)

Businessman: Today is very hot.

Little Girl: Very, very hot today.

Reporter, to a little boy: It’s hot today, isn’t it?

Little Boy: …

Reporter: It’s hot, isn’t it?

Little Boy: …

Reporter: Don’t you feel hot?

Little Boy: It is hot.

I am seriously not making this up.

So anyway, I was asking Ms. Americanized about this, and she laughed and nodded. “We know it’s hot, we don’t need reports from every Japanese prefecture about it!” I laughed, and she added “But that’s Japanese people for you. We want to feel harmony in knowing that other people feel the same way we do. As long as everyone is feeling the exact same thing, then we’re content.” This had me cracking up…because it’s absolutely right. That news broadcast was essentially saying, “You are hot? We all are! We are one. Resistance is futile.”

Ms. Americanized, looking somewhat pleased with herself, said, “I’m happy, I think I have been improving my sense of humor lately.” I told her I thought it was already great, and she said but maybe it was only funny in Japan. I assured her Americans at least would love her stuff. “What was the last thing I said?” She asked. I reminded her of her “Japan’s weird, did you know that?” quote. “Oh yeah,” she said, “Maybe I should quit being a teacher, and become a stand up comic in America. The ‘Japan’s Weird, Did You Know That?’ tour.” I personally think she’d sell-out every seat in the house.

You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen.

* * *

Somedays I bring my laptop into school with me, especially if I don’t have many classes and I’m not motivated enough to study Japanese. It also gives me a chance to work on new stuff for the site.

I was writing this entry in fact, when two of the bastard sannensei boys walked into the teacher’s room as if they owned it, as they always did. They noticed me on a computer and came up behind me. “What are you doing?” one asked. “Studying,” I said curtly. I’m a big fan of the truth, but I didn’t feel it would have been appropriate to say, “Well, I’m writing an article about your everyday antics, so I can post it up on the internet and make people from all over the world laugh about what goes on here. Say, can I take a picture of you with shirt unbuttoned exposing your tiny little chest, and your pants around your ankles trying to be cool, to put on my site? They’d get a real treat out of that!”

The one boy takes a closer look at the screen. “Oh, he’s reading Roman characters!” he exclaimed, actually surprised. “Of course he is!” Ms. Americanized responded for me. It really is a no-win situation, they’re shocked when I speak Japanese, they’re shocked when I speak and understand English, what language am I supposed to know? One day I’m just going to respond to them in gibberish and tongue-clicks, see if that’s what they’re looking for.

The other boy tried to read what I’ve written. “Fo…Fa…Fe…For….I can’t read it!” Maybe if you actually paid attention in English class, you’d have a shot.

People ask me all the time, “What if one of your students accidentally stumbles onto your site?” I gotta say, I don’t think that’s a problem at all.

More Ichinensei Fun

June 24, 2005 Leave a comment

I really like the new ichinensei classes. For the most part, they’re adorable and full of energy– a nice, but tiring, contrast to the sannensei who are getting their asses kicked by life. (This will continue, sadly, for the rest of their Japanese lives, the one exception being their 4 years in college.) They also say the most off-the-wall shit, sometimes completely unintentional.

The School of Peace of course means more run-ins with Penis-Boy. Yes, I have downgraded him, I just didn’t feel right calling him Penis-Man yet. Kind of like how Superboy had to work his way up to Superman. I also found out that Penis-Boy has an older brother, a sannensei student. They look a lot alike, but the older brother seems to be radically less enamored with his junk.

We were doing a self-introduction where the students stand up and give a short intro speech about themselves in a decided format. “Hi, I’m [name]. I’m from [city of origin]. I like [anything here]. I play [some kind of sport/activity].” After proceeding through the class, we finally landed on Penis-Boy.

Penis-Boy stood up and said “Hi, I’m [Penis-Boy]. I’m from Japan. I like Az. I play tennis.” This, however, isn’t what he’d written down. I’d made it a point to sneak over beforehand and check out what he’d written down, which went, completely unsurprisingly, like this: “Hi, I’m (Penis-Boy). I’m from Japan. I like penis. I play sex.” …Right. With your undying love of penis kid, I really don’t want to know what kind of sex you’re playing, thank you very much.

It was only later that I realized that in his “sanitized” version, I had become a substitute for penis. Ain’t that some shit? How many of you can actually say you were a substitute for penis at some point in your lives? Only in Japan.

I’m really starting to think this kid needs help. I said before, all little boys are fascinated by their junk at some point, but this goes far above and beyond the call of duty. I wouldn’t be surprised if his just one day gave up fell right off in protest. This boy loves penis almost as much as Noisy Fucker loves the sound of his own voice. I also decided that given his devotion to penis, I am simply never going to let this boy touch me, ever.

Incidentally, after this class three boys launched a Dual Kancho/Dick Grab Assualt on me. Back in the day, this would have been some serious shit, but not now. Oh no, no no. Ever since I became an Ascended Ninja Gaijin™, I got this shit on lockdown. I was knocking them away like Neo batting away Agent Smith clones… if Agent Smith was a 12-year-old Japanese boy trying to grab The One’s mystical bits. At one point, I picked up one of the boys and was using him to swat away the other two. It was fuckin’ beautiful. All I need is John Woo to direct, and a few white birds, and this is Hollywood Blockbuster-calibur stuff, I’m telling you.

I know you’re out there. I can feel you know. I know that you’re afraid…you’re afraid of me. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world where large black men don’t get their dicks grabbed. A world without kancho and dodgedick, without penis obsessions and waist-shaking. A world where Gaijins can roam the hallways of a Jr. high school freely and unmolested. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

* * *

We were playing the dengon game in the ichinensei class. Dengon game is just the message game… I tell the person sitting in the back of the row a sentence in English. They then tell the person in front of them by whispering, but they can only do it once. The message goes forward up the row until it gets to the person sitting up front. As long as the message is the same as the one I told the kid in the back (or reasonably close), they get points. If not, they get my patented Batsu Buzzer (I cross my arms and make an error-buzzer sound) and a “Better luck next time!”

Since they’re new ichinensei, they don’t know a whole lot of English. The sentence I gave the kids in the back was “I come to school by train.” This isn’t too different from what’s in the textbook, “I come to school by bike.” I don’t know why, but the train completely throws them off. It’s odd. By the time the message got to the front, it had gone through all sorts of collapse.

One group though… Now, I have no idea how in the world this could possibly come from “I come to school by train,” but when I checked what the boy sitting in the front had written, it went like this: “I do you school bus.”

Yes.

That is simply the greatest unintentional slip-up, ever. I don’t know what doing someone school bus is. Long, yellow, and bumpy? With rowdy kids in the back? A free service to the community? I have no idea, but I’m determined to find out. And put it to actual use. I seriously want to bust this out in real life. Imagine things are getting all hot and heavy, then all of a sudden you hear, “Oh yeah baby, I’m gonna do you school bus.” The initial reaction alone would be worth whatever fall-out resulted from it.

“I do you school bus” goes in my Hall of Fame, right next to “spread your legs” and “gay bridge.”

A Death in the Family

June 24, 2005 1 comment

While cleaning my room, I found an old memo distributed to the schools in Kyoto Prefecture. It noted that two students had been killed in separate bike accidents, and urged teachers to stress the importance of bike safety onto the students. The Japanese are big on anonymity, so the students were identified only as “Student A” and “Student B.” “Student A,” a Junior High sannensei, was biking home, when he crossed an intersection at the green light. A driver turning right into the intersection, entirely too fast, slammed right into him. He was thrown off his bike and landed hard on his head. He was rushed to the hospital, but nothing could be done.

The memo gave no further information about Student A, but I know who Student A was. He was one of my students.

I remember going into work that day. I had barely made contact with the chair at my desk when the principal came over to tell me that one of this school’s students had been killed in a traffic biking accident. I was shocked. Other teachers came into the teachers’ room with their usual cheery “Ohayo Gozaimasu!” only to have someone rush over and inform them of the news. I watched as their countenances instantly changed, much as mine must have.

There was an assembly that morning. The ichinensei and ninensei entered the gym solemnly, some in tears. Then the sannensei came in, and they were all in tears. The principal explained what happened, and stressed the importance of bike safety. He urged every student to please take care when going home today, and every other day. The students were dismissed, but the sannensei and the sannensei teachers stayed behind for an additional talk. I’m not a sannensei teacher; I don’t belong to any year grouping. But my legs didn’t feel like taking me out of the gym, so I stayed behind.

The head sannensei teacher, your typical Japanese male, tried to get up and give the “Let’s all do our best in the face of adversity” speech, but he couldn’t get three words through it without choking up and crying almost uncontrollably. Although I’d heard the boy’s name, it wasn’t a name I was familiar with. I scanned the sannensei, trying to find familiar faces, trying to figure out which one was missing. After the speech, the sannensei were dismissed, and they left the gym in a virtual daze. One girl however was completely wrecked. She was a crying mess on her knees, and just simply couldn’t be moved. Two of her friends tried to get her to stand, but they didn’t really have the heart for it either, so they just fell and cried beside her. I later found out that this girl was the boy’s girlfriend, and that he had been riding her bike at the time of the accident.

Afterwards, I quietly mentioned to the principal that I didn’t recognize the student’s name, and asked to see a picture. He took me into his office, pulled out the class photo, and pointed out the boy. It was a familiar face. He wasn’t one of the students I regularly talked or joked around with, but I did remembered having class with him. I was saddened at the loss, absolutely, but unfortunately I didn’t feel the loss quite like the other teachers and students did. I felt guilty for not even knowing his name. In a country where we are defined literally as “outsiders,” this was a moment when I felt the most outside.

This unfortunately wasn’t my first experience with death in school. When I was a high school freshman (same grade level as Japanese Junior High sannensei), one of my classmates accidentally shot himself in the head with his father’s gun. The next day at school, before I even heard the news, something just felt wrong. He wasn’t one of my friends, but we were classmates. That day everyone just kind of drifted through the day in a daze. Many people returned home, and counseling was available for those who couldn’t.

He was in my 7th period science class. I’d been dreading it all day. When I got there, the teacher echoed my sentiments. Very few students actually went to that class. At first some people shared their favorite stories about him, which eventually turned into a discussion about death and mortality. And everyone avoided looked at the empty chair. Now, 10 years later in Japan, I’d have to relive that day.

I thought the students might be sent home and classes cancelled. Instead the day proceeded as normal. When one of my English teachers tried to discuss the sannensi’s lesson for the day, I stared back, probably with disbelief all over my face. “We’re still going to do the sannensei’s class?” She looked at me blankly and said yes, as if I’d asked something as obvious as, “What color is the sky?” She explained that we’d be playing a consumer game, where the sannensei would pretend to buy and sell various goods. I prepared myself for what I figured was going to be my worst class. Ever.

The sannensei were as I expected them to be – stunned. One boy, a friend of the victim, just stared off into space. I couldn’t imagine trying to do a fun game activity… but that’s what I had to do. I went to the front and explained the game, without my usual animated movements and theatrics. I just wished the class would hurry up and end.

Much to my complete and total surprise, the students really got into the game. Dare I say, enjoyed it even. They milled about, carefully buying and selling goods, and figuring out the best way to manage their money. The boy who had been staring off into space…he and his group were rather good at it. They had amassed quite a monopoly, and at one point more or less kicked back and exploited the market for every penny. Kids were smiling and laughing.

In fact, by the afternoon, things were completely back to normal. Kids ran and shouted and laughed in the hallways. The teachers went on about the weather or sports or whatever other pointless banter would fill the air. Even the head sannensei teacher, who could barely choke out his speech earlier, was smiling and joking around as he always does. The difference between that morning and that afternoon was so stark that I almost felt as if the morning never happened, or I’d somehow ended up at a different school without noticing it.

While in class, I said to my English teacher, “Wow… I wasn’t expecting this game to go over well at all, but it looks like they’re actually enjoying it.” She turned to me and said, “Yes…it’s much better to see their smiling faces, isn’t it?” It wasn’t what I’d expected. I expected crying and mourning and grief all day, as I had experienced back when I was their age. It had struck me as strange at first, but then my English teacher’s words came back to me – their smiling faces are much better. Why shouldn’t they be smiling?

Later in the week, my English teacher came over to me at my desk. “We were supposed to have English fourth and fifth period,” she said, “but we’re going to have to cancel fourth because the sannensei are going to the boy’s funeral. But they’ll be back in time for fifth, so we’ll play a game.” …Great, I thought at the time. Upon going to the class, I found the boy’s girlfriend sitting in the back. …Even better. But much like before, they got right into things, and were smiling and happy. In particular, the boy’s girlfriend really wanted to win. Even the group of boys who don’t particularly like English, and tend to sit back, cross their arms, and give the bare minimum, somehow managed to be good at this game and were winning. My English teacher used a few subtle ways to cheat and give the girls’ group the victory. “I really wanted her (the boy’s girlfriend) to win this one, and those boys always have a bad attitude,” she’d said later. The girl seemed absolutely thrilled to have won, even though there were no prizes awarded.

I asked some Japanese friends about this later, and they said it was just the Japanese way of dealing with death. Life goes on. The victim wouldn’t have wanted them to be sad all day over his death. They find comfort in returning to their everyday lives. It doesn’t mean that the boy is forgotten, far from it. It’s more like, a respect of the life he lead, by continuing to lead it. Much like many other aspects of this country, it was something I had a hard time understanding…but this time I got the feeling I didn’t really need to understand it.

When I think back to that day, I remember the boy who could only stare off into space, and the girl who couldn’t even pick herself up off the floor, but then I also remember them smiling and happy, laughing with friends, playing games and having fun. I like the latter memory much better. And I think that’s what “Student A” would have wanted too.

Quiz Millionaire

June 20, 2005 1 comment

Japan has a version of the popular quiz game, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” they call “Quiz Millionaire.” It’s hosted by a guy named Mino Monta. The show runs more or less like its American/British/whatever counterpart, except that when Mino asks, “Final Answer?” and the contestant says, “yes,” he just stares at them for a good minute or so until finally yelling, “Sekai!” (correct!) or, “Zannen!” (Too bad!). I find it absolutely hilarious, because the contestants usually FREAK OUT while Mino’s staring them down. “What? Am I wrong? Eh? What? Unnnnhhh… SAY SOMETHING ALREADY!”

Quiz Millionaire seems to be pretty popular in Japan, or at least everyone is more or less familiar with it. I created a version to play with my students. I write the questions on poster board cards and give them answer cards to hold up for their Final Answer. I even created a CD with the game’s music tracks and gave out fake money for correct answers. The students always ask, “Is this real American money?!” despite the fact that it looks really fake, and I’m holding a FAT stack of it. They must really think I’m loaded to be gallivanting around with so much cash. The game is really a lot of fun, and sometimes I think I enjoy it more than my students do.

I played Quiz Millionaire with the English club at the School of Peace. The English Club is composed of 10 little girls who are unquestionably the Cutest Girls, Ever. Ultimate Sweetness is also a member of the English club, and while she is still the cutest thing who ever has or ever will exist in history, the other girls are not very far behind.

We got started, but then a butterfly with black wings and yellow stripes flew through the window. Butterflies are beautiful, right? Symbols of love and peace and all that? Little girls love butterflies, don’t they? That wasn’t the case for one of the girls, who FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. The butterfly wasn’t even near her, but she let out a scream that I can still hear when it’s quiet enough. I had to put the game on hold while she went into hysterics.

But, it’s just a butterfly, isn’t it?

The butterfly flew around near the ceiling, and in response she dropped down in her chair and put a towel over her head. I suppose maybe, given enough time, she might have settled down and we could have worked to shoo the butterfly out the window. Mr. Butterfly however, must have mistook her screams of fear and horror for shrieks of admiration, and thinking, “Hey, I gotta get me a better look at this,” flew directly in front of her.

There are simply no words in the English language that can adequately describe her reaction.

What I can tell you, is that in one motion, one of her erratic hand movements turned into a vicious backhand that KNOCKED MR. BUTTERFLY THE FUCK OUT. In more or less the same motion, she Japanesely teleported to the back of the room, where she fell onto her knees as a screaming, crying mess. Now, I know I shouldn’t have found this funny in the least bit. But it just was. I’m already going to hell (Snuzzlebunnes Incident) so I might as well enjoy the ride.

Mr. Butterfly, meanwhile, was lying lifeless on her desk. We all thought she killed it. She coulda dropped grown men with that backhand. One of the other girls tapped the desk though, and Mr. Butterfly groggily stirred a bit before collapsing on the desk again.

Discovery Gaijin Smash Presents: The Life of a Japanese Butterfly

Phase 1: Egg is laid by a female butterfly
Phase 2: Hatch into a larva/caterpillar
Phase 3: Eat a lot, grow bigger
Phase 4: Cocoon into a chrysalis, emerge as a beautiful butterfly
Phase 5: Get knocked the fuck out by a 13-year-old Japanese girl’s vicious backhand

Another girl retrieved a dustpan from the closet, scooped up the almost comatose Mr. Butterfly, and tossed him out the window. Mr. Butterfly suddenly came to (I guess he kinda had to, suddenly falling from the second floor of a Japanese school), and flew into a tree where he must have taken a moment to ponder the day’s events. Mike Tyson-chan composed herself and, with the butterfly far out of backhanding range, returned to her seat to resume the game.

A few rounds later, and it was Ultimate Sweetness’s turn in the hot chair. I held up the question, and she studied it very carefully, as if it’s rocket science. Her face even had this cute, scrunched-up CONCENTRATION! look which no words could ever do justice. Then, just as I said “Final Answer!” she held up her answer card. But she didn’t just hold up her answer card, no no no. She held it up, looked at me with big eyes, and gave me an Oliver Twist “Please Sir, may I have some more?” look that damn near killed me with its overwhelming adorableness. It’s almost like she’s was saying, “This is the right answer, isn’t it?” and I just want to tell her “yes,” no matter what she answered.

It was at this point that I realized that Ultimate Sweetness is absolutely broken. I mean, most girls have some sort of cute, puppy-dog-ish face they like to hit men with when they want something. But Ultimate Sweetness’s just… she wins, the end. Unfortunately, she held up the wrong answer, though. The question was, “What is Hideaki Matsui’s uniform number?” and I wanted to call Matsui himself and ask him to change his number just so she wouldn’t be wrong. How fucking broken is that? Her future husband, the poor guy has no chance whatsoever. She could be like, “Honey, I want a BMW, brand new, with a surround-sound CD system, a completely digital electronic readout, and the voice of Kit from Knight Rider …Please?” and all he can say to that is, “What color would you like?”

Luckily, Ultimate Sweetness is Ultimate Sweetness, so she’d never do that. She’d probably hit you with The Face™ just to ask you if she could cook your dinner for you– after she washed your car and before she draws a hot mineral water bath for you. I can only hope that her powers are always used for good. If someone were to harness this and use it for the forces of evil, we’d all be fucked six ways from Sunday.

On her next turn, she did get the next question right, and upon hearing me say “Sekai!” she let out a little “Kyaa!” scream while clenching her fists. When I went to give her her (fake) cash prize, she bowed very deeply and said in English, “Thank you very much!” I developed multiple cavities in just about every tooth I’ve got.

I love my job.

Return of the Mack

June 20, 2005 Leave a comment

I was sitting in the teachers’ room, doing whatever it is I do there, probably trying to stay awake and make it look like I’m being productive. It was between classes, so students roamed by in the hallways. I heard my name and looked up to see Watson standing in the doorway. “Watch. Please.” he said in English.

Almost two years now. Almost two years and he is still after my watch. I don’t even think it’s about the watch anymore, now it’s the principal of the matter.

The other teachers, meanwhile, laugh and say, “Oh, he wants your watch huh?” Yeah, it’s funny huh? I was laughing too… two years ago. WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING TO DISCOURAGE THIS?! When this kid is a beggar on the street I know who to blame now. That, or one of the old guys who stands in front of the sex salons trying to usher guys in. But never us Gaijin guys. Cause we’re diseased and dirty and we’ll probably beat the whores up or something. Old dudes are probably jealous of our Gaijin Power™ at any rate.

Noisy Fucker came up behind Watson, who is no small kid and was more or less blocking the whole door. Noisy Fucker took one look at him, then without even thinking about it, reached up, grabbed Watson’s wrist, and twisted it a little. Watson recoiled, and Noisy Fucker walked effortlessly through the door. Of course, he didn’t forget to make his obligatory “WAAAAAAAAAAAUGH” “Coming Through the Door” sound.

I was shocked. I have to struggle with Watson for what seems like an eternity, and Noisy Fucker just handled him as if he were nothing. I couldn’t believe it. To make matters worse, another male teacher went to leave with Watson still in the way. Watson then did something… well, I can’t call it surprising, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. He tried to grab this Japanese teacher’s dick. I always figured Watson was so determined to grab mine because I’m a big black guy, and Japan perpetuates the stereotype. I sort of assumed that Watson didn’t have any interest in his own countrymen’s dicks, but apparently I was absolutely wrong. I no longer felt special. Then I realized I was disappointed because a 15-year old Japanese boy isn’t grabbing my dick exclusively, and let me tell you, 70+ showers later I still feel dirty. What is this country doing to me?

This teacher, acting purely on reaction time, grabbed Watson’s hands, then gave him a gentle shove down the hallway. Watson scampered away, and the teacher was free to go to wherever he was going. Again, I was shocked. I always considered large black men to be sort of overpowering in the grand scheme of things. Most people have a general fear/respect for us, with the notable exceptions of black women and the American police. However, while I had to endure epic struggles against this boy, two Japanese men, one being a Noisy Fucker no less, dispatched him with ease. It left me baffled for the better part of the day.

It was then that I had a life-changing realization. My ANGST! had long since subsided, but my precious Kancho and Dodgedick Senses™ were still down. I’d assumed it was because of the ANGST!, but that wasn’t it at all. Those Senses were kind of like a starter guide, training wheels for the uninitiated foreigner who simply has no idea that at some point in his life, an ambitious Japanese boy (or ten) will be trying to grab his dick, poke him in the ass, or on some occasions, both at the same time. I, however, had gotten too comfortable in them. Egotistical, even. God had to knock me down a few pegs, which is why the Senses disappeared. The point is not to become some sort of Dickdodging Hero, no! (I can’t imagine what crimes you’d stop with those powers anyway.) It’s all about self-preservation. I’d forgotten that.

Once I realized myself, I ascended to a higher level of defense. I don’t have anymore senses. I don’t need them. Now, it’s just natural. Case in point – I was outside, watching the tennis club practice. The tennis club is kind of isolated from the rest of the field, separated by a chain link fence. The baseball club was doing their own thing, and soccer club was miles away. I stood all alone, or so I thought. Suddenly, I turned around. There was nothing going off in my head, no warning signals, not even a thought. I just turned, and as I did I saw an ichinensei girl (the same girl who’d asked me for my profile back when I got molested) coming at me in the classic Kancho Approach – knees bent, shoulders low, arms out in front, fingers at the ready.

“What in the world were you just about to do?” I asked her.

She straightened herself. “Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. …Nice day, isn’t it?”

I’m back bitches. Bring the pain, I’m waiting for it.

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