There is one English teacher I’ve nicknamed that I failed to mention before. She gets her own editorial.
I call her Ms. Grinch. It’s difficult to tell her age, because she’s wearing enough layers of makeup to effectively shield her from shotgun shells to the face. I wonder if she’s actually ever taken off makeup in her life–like the rings on a tree trunk, perhaps we can determine her age by counting the layers of foundation. I am going to guess no younger than 50. For a 50 year-old, she’s in pretty good shape, but she dresses like a trendy 20-something. Mercifully, nothing revealing, but still, with jeans and shirts perhaps tighter than they should be. I’ve said before that I have no problem with Mrs. Robinsons, but I’m afraid I do have to draw the line at Estelle Getty.
In planning our first classes together, she wanted my self-introduction to include a quiz about San Francisco. As such, she asked me about what SF was most famous for. Jokingly, I suggested Gay Pride, thinking way, way back to the young student who answered that question with “Gay Bridge.” Ms. Grinch’s face lights up (I suppose–under all that makeup who knows what’s going on…)–“Oh, Gay Pride!” she says. “Oh, so there are a lot of gay people in San Francisco then!” I said there were, but that I was really only joking, and if we wanted to talk about the history of San Francisco, surely we could cover anything ranging from the gold rush and the Golden Gate Bridge, to Alcatraz, how Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage survived Alcatraz, or hell, even Rice-A-Roni. “No no, I want to talk about the gays!” Ms. Grinch insists, and that is how it was decided that, during my first classes with very impressionable Japanese 15 year-olds, I would give a talk about Gay Pride.
Not that I have anything against Gay Pride–I am from San Francisco after all–but I don’t really want to talk about Gay Pride when I’m, y’know, not gay. I’m sure most homosexuals out there wouldn’t exactly leap at the chance to talk about the wonders of being straight. We can’t ask Kate Moss to give a talk about being dangerously obese, can we? Or, how about asking women to be thrilled to talk about how great it is to have a penis.*
*Although, ladies, you have NO idea what you’re missing. Cause it’s fuckin’ awesome.
Ms. Grinch asks me to outline my potential Gay Pride talk with her. I try to think of the most straightforward explanation I can think of. I say that, perhaps in America, on the coasts people are more open and accepting of alternative lifestyles, but in the middle of America (red states!) people aren’t quite as accepting. Ms. Grinch nods along as if I’m revealing some long-hidden truth to her. “The middle of America…oh, so you mean, like Arizona?”
…So, Arizona is considered the Midwest now? Who knew? You hear that all you Arizonians out there? You guys are the Midwest now. Time to start hating gays and worshiping football, if you haven’t already. I also expect a fine herd of cattle and the dogged cowboys to properly wrangle them. I don’t wanna hear any “desert wasteland” excuses outta you either.
I can’t really blame her for this too much though, it’s not like Americans are any better…
Mom: Hey, I heard on the news that there was an earthquake in Hokkaido…are you okay?
Me: Yeah Mom, Kyoto doesn’t really feel earthquakes that happen over 600 miles away…
Can it get worse? Oh boy yes it can.
Grandma: Boy, are you eating right? I heard that food’s real scarce thanks to that Kim Jong Il character…
Me: …That’s not even the right country!
Once Ms. Grinch and I were doing a skit during class. I forget what the context was, but Ms. Grinch asked what I would like. The textbook had me say orange juice or something boring like that…but I like to ad-lib a lot during class, so I put on a pouty face and said that I would like a hug….Didn’t expect her to actually do it….By GOD, those were the hardest tits I have ever felt IN MY LIFE. And I’ve been to a lot of strip clubs in my day. I’m not even exaggerating, it felt like having two slabs of granite be pressed into my chest. That shit HURT, and it continued to hurt for a day afterwards.
Now, I don’t know why Ms. Grinch has Tits of Iron…and I don’t want to know either. There is no explanation that will bring me any measure of joy, so I choose to remain blissfully ignorant.
Ms. Grinch gets her name from the fact that she somehow finds a way to completely kill all the fun in any activity we might plan to do. I could come up with a “Let’s Learn English Through Blowjobs!” class, and Ms. Grinch would find a way to suck all the fun out of it (not literally…oh GOD, not literally…). The first big problem is that when the students are divided into groups and told to move their desks together, we spend about 15 minutes with Ms. Grinch bitching about “tsukima”–open spaces between the desks. Yes, in Ms. Grinch’s world, things are brought to a grinding halt if the students don’t have their desks perfectly aligned with one another.
I wasn’t aware that having the desks be in contact with each other was so VITAL to the enjoyment of an English activity.
Because she makes such a big deal out of it, the students make it a point to try and rebel against her, either gradually opening up subtle little spaces between their desks, or Grand Canyon-sized rifts. Ms. Grinch is deeply and personally offended–I think the the male students could get up, pin her to the ground, and take turns tea-bagging her, and she’d be less bothered by that than she would be by the tsukima. So we spend 15 minutes (sometimes longer) with Ms. Grinch screaming “tsukima! Tsukima!” while students try to move their desks apart when they think she’s not looking.
The Japanese version of Dangerous Minds, ladies and gentlemen.
Once, one boy, in flat-out open defiance, left a chasm of tsukima between him and the girl in front of him. It was huge, roughly equivalent to the size of the space between Mariah Carey’s breasts. To further spit in her face, he put his head down on the desk and went to sleep. Ms. Grinch comes along, and with a hearty shout of “TSUKIMA!” she *kicks* the desk forward, with the student still sleeping on it. I’m not talking about some weak-shit granny kick either, she put all the might of a Japanese obasan into her leg and Kazuya Mishima’d the damn thing. The desk goes FLYING right into the poor girl’s desk. The girl, who is already kind of shy and introverted to begin with, nearly dies of a sudden heart attack. Can you blame her? Ms. Grinch goes to the (now wide awake) boy and berates him over the tsukima–“How rude you are to her! Isn’t it offensive to her to have that much tsukima!” Meanwhile, I was wondering what was more offensive to the poor girl–the guy across from her leaving a little space between the desks, or nearly getting a flying desk to the grill from a crazed obasan in makeup armor.
Aside from the TSUKIMA!, she will also stop an activity and berate the students if they aren’t doing exactly what she wants them to do, in the manner she expects it. In some cases, she’ll take away points from groups in a game/activity. And once a group’s gotten on her Shit List…they’re just royally fucked. In one sannensei class, a group of more or less good kids came under Ms. Grinch’s watchful eye. One of the boys had been singled out for talking when Ms. Grinch expected silence. Was he chatting with his friends in the back, or dissing other students? Nope. He was simply enjoying the game more than Ms. Grinch thought he should be. She began to take away points from this group, in some cases when the boy was breathing in a manner she didn’t like. As you might imagine, the rest of the group members were getting very frustrated over being punished for the actions of ONE boy who wasn’t even really doing anything wrong to begin with. After they’d lost a full six points, one girl, who had been playing with a fake rose, extended it towards Mrs. Grinch. “Why do you hate us? Why can’t we be friends?”
Ms. Grinch’s response? Deduct another point from this group. …You’re a mean one, Ms. Grinch.
Words simply cannot describe the dejected look on the girl’s face. Her rose, despite being plastic, also seemed to droop lower than flaccid Japanese penis. She looked kind of like Bambi, when he learned that his mom had died…except in this version, the hunter cooks Bambi’s Mom up into veal Parmesan and eats her right in front of Bambi too.
And that is why games with Ms. Grinch just aren’t fun. This Christmas, you’d better watch out, for if you have any TSUKIMA! between your study desks, you might just wake up to find that Ms. Grinch has beaten you silly with her Ben Grimm tits.