Not Your Mother’s Bingo
Because you love her.
One day, I was talking to Ms. Americanized in the teachers’ room. I have a Japanese language test coming up pretty soon, so I’m kind of concerned about it now. She was telling me how it’s good to use the media to help with language practice. I said I wish I could do that, but I hate Japanese TV with a fiery, burning passion so it does me no good. She said, “Well, watching American TV helps me a lot, I can learn a lot of really useful things.” I asked her what American TV shows did she watch.
“Oh, I love Sex and the City.” She says.
I wouldn’t call it surprising, not by a long shot, I still found it to be hilarious though. She noticed my reaction. “What? That show has taught me a lot of really good things, not just about the English language, but the culture as well. Sex and the City is my bible.” And if I wasn’t floored before, now I definitely was. “Oh no, don’t do that!” I said. “That’s only a small slice of what America’s like.” She realized what I was getting at. “Oh, I’m not talking about the dirty stuff. You know Carrie is a writer, right? Well, when she’s writing on her typewriter, she uses a lot of colloquialisms and American sayings, things like that. So, I hear things I’m not familiar with, then I look them up and I learn something new.” Oh! Well, that’s actually pretty good. Wonderful actually. I told her this. And once again, Ms. Americanized showed me that as usual, she was capable of upping the ante.
“And the dirty stuff is good too. Hey, you never know when you might need it.”
I have decided that when I do leave this country, I’m taking her with me.
And don’t even THINK of sending me another “You should hook up with Ms. Americanized!” email (fastest way to ensure your email gets deleted). She’s seeing someone. Not me, for the record.
In Japanese schools, bingo is a pretty popular game to play, especially among the younger students. Give them a blank grid and let them fill in English words from a pre-selected list. Then read off the words in random order and the first person to line up 4 or 5 words in a row is the winner. The winner gets stickers or extra class points or a tender loving kick to the ass, whatever strikes our fancy that day.
Whenever a student is one word away from hitting a bingo, he or she will call out “reach!” I’ve heard that this is from Go, something you call out when you’re one move away from victory. Of course, in a Japanese accent, “reach” becomes “ri-chi”, and that sounds very terribly similar to a not-so-nice English word.
I was playing bingo with Ms. Americanized in an ichinensei class. So of course, students were calling out “Sensei! Ri-chi! Ri-chi!” as victory drew closer. In the two plus years I’ve been here, I have not gotten used to that and I don’t think I ever will. Realizing that Ms. Americanized is one of a select few of Japanese English teacher who would actually understand, I decided to talk to her after class about it.
Me: You know, every time we play bingo I always get a little weirded out.”ri-chi” sounds a lot like “bitch”.
Her: (thinking about it) Yeah, it does, doesn’t it!
Me: Yeah, so I can never get used to hearing that, especially from 12-year old Japanese kids.
Her: “Teacher, I’ve got a bitch!”
Me: “Double bitch!”
Her: “Triple bitch!” I told you Japan was fucked up, didn’t I?
One day, her words of wisdom should be immortalized in stone.