Japanese Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 3
I was asked to give a talk to a class of sannensei about my winter vacation. They were supposed to listen, and afterwards we’d give them a fun quiz to test their listening comprehension. I talked about traveling. I said I liked to travel, especially on the trains. I am stared at a lot by old grandmothers, and sometimes they talk about me, too.
After my talk, we gave the quiz…I asked “What do I often like to do?” One boy raised his hand and in earnest, answered, “Grandmothers.”
I think we really need to work on their listening comprehension more.
At the ghetto school, I was walking around outside after classes, visiting the various sports clubs. As I approached the girls’ basketball club, one ichinensei girl (the “breasts” girl, by the way) greeted me with, “Yo Nigga!”
I hate MTV.
She then asked me what it meant. Sigh. I told her it was kind of a greeting, but that it was really bad so never use it. She didn’t quite get it, so I gathered her and her friends around for storytime. I tried my best in simple Japanese to explain American history and slavery and the origins of that word.
They seemed to listen the best they could, and when I finished, Breasts Girl showed her appreciation by giving me a heartfelt, “Thanks, Nigga!”
I really hate MTV.
The same girls from the ghetto school’s basketball club, different day.
I was talking to them about something, but as usual, the conversation wrapped back around to love and romance. To say the kids at this age are very interested in this kind of thing is a gross understatement. The girls ask me when my first kiss was. Well, that’s innocent enough, right? So I tell them. Theoretically, it should stop here, and after being here as long as I have, I don’t why I expected it actually would.
They then asked me when my first fuck was.
I gave my usual “That is not appropriate for Jr. High schoolers” answer (I have to give this answer a lot). One girl turned to the rest and said, “He doesn’t want to answer, so obviously he’s had sex.” She turns back to me, “So, did it feel good?”
I complained in Japanese and let them know I definitely wasn’t going to answer anything like that. They eventually gave up and asked me if I drank alcohol. I admitted yes, but told them that they should wait until they are old enough if they decide they want to drink. There, I’m not a bad teacher. No, good teacher. They then asked me what kind of beer I liked. Well, that’s not too bad, right? So I gave them an honest answer. This, however, sparked a debate about which beers and alcohols tasted best. And they knew way more than they should have about this. One girl said, “I like Asahi better than Kirin, it’s drier so you can better appreciate the taste.”
This girl is 12 years old.
I decided I didn’t want to know.
At one of my schools, there’s this ichinensei girl who is, without question, The Sweetest Girl in the Universe. She’s very cute, very polite, always smiling, and is really bubbly. Everyone kind of dotes on her, but you would too, she’s so freaking sweet.
She and some other girls were doing a special English drill. In this particular workbook, there was, in my opinion, a rather odd exercise. The other girls would say, “So and so, you’re a good soccer player!” and the girl addressed would then say, “No, I’m not. I’m a bad soccer player. I’m a very bad soccer player.” I can only guess that this has something to do with the Japanese cultural tendency to deny compliments rather than accept them.
So the girls were doing this exercise, and I read ahead to see what Ultimate Sweetness would be responding to. I almost fell over in my chair when I saw it. It was completely innocent, sure, but I knew exactly how my young male mind would hear it. I panicked – I had to stop this from happening, but I couldn’t think of what to do. In my hesitation, the exercise proceeded, and the moment I feared came to be.
Other Girls: “You’re a good girl!”
The Cutest, Sweetest Girl in the Universe: “No, I’m not! I’m a bad girl. I’m a very bad girl.”
I’m going to hell.
One day the ichinensei were making skits to perform in English. I was walking around, checking the scripts, when one girl’s script completely threw me off. She’d written, “Hi! I’m [her name], the new English teacher. I like pain.”
I stopped and asked her about this sentence. She explained that she didn’t quite know how to spell “painting.” Oh! Painting. Heh heh heh. Yes, that certainly makes sense. Painting is good.
She asked me what I thought she’d meant. I’m never telling.
I was walking home one day, and I turned a corner to see a few of the bastard ninensei boys from the ghetto school, including the worst boy. They had sticks and it looks like they were beating random insects to death in the shrubbery near the park. I considered taking a different route home, but if I did, I’d basically be giving in to a group of 14-year old punk Japanese kids, so I forged straight ahead.
They noticed me, and actually addressed me by my real name this time (as opposed to Bob Sapp, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, or whatever other black person they happened to be thinking of at the time). So I acknowledged them. They came over, and said, “You have a girlfriend, right?” At the time I did, so I said yes.
The worst boy then put his hand on my shoulder, and said very seriously, “Now, you can’t just fuck her. You have to romance her too. Buy her flowers, take her out to dinner, that kind of nonsense. Girls like that crap. Fucking is nice, but if that’s all you do, she’ll get bored and leave you.” He said all of this in Japanese, with the exception of the word “fuck.”
With an extra pat on my shoulder for good measure, he went back to the bug brutalization. I was left standing in the middle of the sidewalk absolutely stunned. It took me a good minute to regain my wits until I was finally able to walk again. As I retreated, the boy called out behind me, “Remember! Don’t just fuck her!”
Maybe I should call him Rico Suave.