Just Another Monday
The School of Peace is preparing for the Cultural Festival on Saturday. As a result, there are no afternoon classes as the kids practice for the chorus competition, make posters, rehearse their performances, et al. This leaves me having absolutely nothing to do in the afternoon. Extreme and mind-numbing boredom drove me to wander around outside to talk with the kids. I decided to check in on the sannensei, as I don’t get to enter their classes that often.
I poked my head into one of the classrooms as the sannensei were preparing to start work on their posters. I found one of my favorite students – the captain of the girl’s basketball team. I’ll call her Jordan (after Michael Jordan). Jordan is “funny” and “interesting” to say the least. Once, when I expressed my regret in not being able to join the students on their school trip to Tokyo Disneyland, Jordan comes up to me, slaps me on the chest, and says “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. You can hide in my bag, and I’ll carry you with us.” I told her she’d have to be pretty strong in order to lug me around. She then spread out her legs, put her fists on her hips, and said “Yes I am!” in English. If you can imagine a 15-year old Japanese girl doing the Superman pose and casually telling her big black teacher that she can carry him over her shoulder around Tokyo.
Compare this to the last time I went out drinking with my friends
Me: So guys, if I get really wasted, you’ll carry me home, right?
2 Grown Men: I dunno. We may not be able to rent a truck at this time of night.
Me: I hate you all, fuckers.
Anyway, Jordan spots me, does a girlish flutter (imagine Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind before fainting) and then waves.
Her: It’s been a long time.
Me: Yeah, it’s been awhile.
Her: I wanted to meet you.
Me: I wanted to meet you too.
Her: (In English) Oh, thank you! I’m happy!
Meanwhile, Mousey is in another part of the room. The students are getting these thin, long plastic bags, for whatever purpose I dunno. Mousey however has filled his with water. “This is my love sex condom!” he exclaims in English. Sadly, this is probably the only English Mousey knows. It saddens me to know that if he were stopped on the street, Mousey wouldn’t be able to give directions to the nearest anything, but while browsing the porno aisle he’d probably be able to understand “She so very bitch!” I guess you only learn what you want to.
Jordan gives him the Female Look of Evil. Men, you all know the look. You know, if you are watching TV with your girlfriends or female friends, and you say something like “Sure, we could watch Fried Green Tomatoes, but hey look, pro-wrestling is on!” And you look up, and you catch her castrating you with her eyes. Yeah, that look.
Me: You can kill him if you want. I’m giving you the OK.
Her: (holds up her plastic bag as if to strangle him) OK. Great, thanks!
Me: Hmm, but it’s probably more satisfying if you do it with your hands and feet.
Her: You know, I think you’re right. OK, I’ll beat him to death later.
Me: Have fun!
Her: Ok, I gotta go make my poster now. (she puts her hands to her chest and does another flourish) (In English) I love you!
Me: (In English) I love you too!
Her: (nodding non-chalantly) (In English) Oh, I know.
And not in that way, you pervs.
I went back out into the hallway, and ran into two girls. Since I am supposedly an English teacher, I decided to just ask them a question in English…
Me: So this week is the Culture Festival?
Girl 1: “Culture…culture…” (in Japanese) What’s culture?
Me: C’mon, you guys can figure this one out…
Girl 2: “Culture…” this is pretty hard!
They flag down a teacher who just happened to be walking past at that moment.
Girl 2: Hey, we’ve got an English question.
Girl 1: But, he’s not an English teacher.
Girl 2: But, he’s still a teacher, and he had to have taken English in high school anyway, right? Let’s ask.
Girl 1: Hey teacher, in English, “So this week is the Culture Festival?”… What’s this mean?
Teacher: Hmm. Well. Let’s see. “Culture…culture…culture…”
Girl 2: Ah, you’re useless. Ok, you can move along.
Girl 1: We mean, thank you very much.
Anyway, the girls eventually figure out “this week festival”, and then realizing that their Culture Festival was indeed this week, they put two and two together and got the meaning. I said they looked pretty busy, but the first girl said “Not really. We became the leaders of our committees. So we assigned all the work to someone else, but now we have nothing to do. So we’re just wandering around looking busy, but really we’ve got nothing but free time.” These girls have already MASTERED what it’s like to be a member of the Japanese workforce, and I have no doubt that they will go on to be splendid salarymen … er … women.
I went back to my hallway wandering. I ran into Mousey again, who had now started to work on his project. Sort of. He looks up and spots me, and immediately exclaims “Oh, it’s hentai (perverted) sensei!” This started one day, when after class, he’d written SEX on one of my papers and was trying to claim that I’d written it. “Look!” He’d said holding the paper up. “Sensei’s carrying around a paper with sex on it! He’s hentai!” The other students fortunately are wise to his shenanigans, and no one bought it.
“I’m hentai?” I exclaimed. “The hentai one is YOU! In this whole school – no. In this whole town, you are the biggest hentai!” The other boys laughed. “He said it, he said it!” They giggle. Mousey gives me a sly look. “I’m not hentai (perverted), I’m ecchi (lecherous).”
You say po-tay-toe, I say po-tah-toe…
As I walk away, Mousey continues to heckle me. “Playboy! Playboy! Azrael is playboy!” he says in English. Ordinarily, I’d *love* to be thought of as a playboy, but being called that by a 15-year old brat of a Japanese boy somehow just doesn’t sit right.
On the other hand, somewhere in the world, Hugh Hefner is smiling over how far his influence reaches.
Meanwhile, another boy approaches me. “It’s been a long time!” He excitedly says while shaking my hand. I taught him this a few months ago, and now he jumps at any chance he gets to use it. I ask him what he’s doing for the festival. “Oh, me and other boys…we do work in gym!” he says in English. I tell him I’ll go and take a look in a few minutes. Surprised, he thanks me and runs off.
Further down the hallway, I came across Moeko and another sannensei girl working on a poster. They had pictures of Korean food and recipes spread out on their still blank poster paper (this year, the sannensei will present about Korea). Moeko sees me and waves me over.
(This entire conversation takes place in English)
Her: Which of these is your favorite?
Me: Hmm … this one (I picked out a spring-roll looking dish).
Her: (turning to her partner) Okay. We’ll do this one.
Me: Huh? You’re using me to decide?
Her: We couldn’t choose. We’ll draw picture, then write the recipe.
Me: Oh? It looks interesting. (taking a look at the recipe) But ah, I can’t make this!
Her: Oh? Why?
Me: Too difficult.
Her: (smiling awkwardly) It’s not very hard. What do you make?
Me: Curry rice … things I can put in the microwave.
Her: (laughing) That’s…! You should learn cook!
Me: I can cook. Last weekend I made Mexican food. It was good. I was surprised.
Her: Oh, so you can cook. So, you should cook more!
Me: Nah, it’s too much work. (In Japanese) I’m too lazy for that.
Her: (laughing, she smacks me on the head with her pen) That’s no good!
Me: I’m sorry.
As I promised, I went to the gym to see what the boys were up to. Instead of working, they had gotten into the equipment storage room and were now lobbing basketballs at the hoops. I found the boy who’d stopped me in the hallway. “Hey, what happened to doing work?” I asked him. He laughed sheepishly. “Ah, big failure!” He says in English. He then hands me a ball. “Shoot three-pointer!” Well, who am I to deny a request? I missed the first shot, but they passed me the ball again and I swished it on my second attempt. The boys were highly impressed. “Oh, as expected from an American!” They exclaim.
I guess we’re all pretty good at basketball too.
This reminds me though of something I found amusing a little while back. There was a Japanese player for the Phoenix Suns basketball team who didn’t last very long. But when he did make the team, he got to do a commercial for one of the sports drinks here. In it, at first we see him on the court, but then he gets checked HARD into the announcers table. But then during the timeout he takes a nice healthy gulp from the sport drink. Then, we see him taking the ball down court … he gets to about the 3-point line … he looks up … you can see the ambition in his eyes … and then he throws the ball up in an alley-oop to one of his black teammates who slam dunks it home.
How fucked up is this? The guy gets to do a sports commercial for HIS OWN COUNTRY and the best he can do is assist his big magnificently black teammate. This is why I sort of think that, at heart, John Stockton is secretly Japanese.
Anyway, when the boys got tired of 3-pointers, they moved to trying to make half-court shots. They again passed a ball to me, and amazingly enough after only a few tries I was able to get one in, off the backboard. I am by no means a half-court shooter (is anyone?) so I attribute this to pure dumb luck. The boys are highly impressed again. “Oh my God! You made it! Wow sensei, is there anything you can’t do?”
I laughed. “Well, sure, there’s plenty of … I mean no. No there isn’t.”