Despite dubbing it the “Ghetto School,” I like going there. Yeah, there are some hair-pulling moments, but it’s also probably the most interesting school of the three. These are just some of the things that happened in the span of one week.
* * *
At the end of class I was playing a game with the ichinensei. The teacher made a mistake in keeping score, something the students quickly noticed and called her on. “Oops! Sorry!” she exclaimed. “Go to hell!” an ichinensei boy replied in English.
Where do they learn this stuff? Don’t look at me.
Working with my Americanized teacher is so much fun. Once we were performing a scene out of the textbook. “Mark” compliments “Demi” on a nice costume and a job well done in some performance. “Oh, did you like it?” my teacher asked in accordance with the script. I decided to deviate a bit. “No, it was the worst,” I said. Most of the kids got this and laughed, and my teacher gave me a nice swat on the head for my creativity. I did see this one coming, unlike the smack she gave that one boy, which I still don’t think I technically saw happen, it moved so fast.
Then she had us reverse the roles. “Oh, did you like it?” I asked. “No! It sucked!” she excitedly replied. Most of the kids blinked at her in confusion. So she took a moment to explain a new English grammar point, “That sucks!” complete with a, “Repeat after me: That sucks!” drill. I couldn’t believe she actually taught them “That sucks!” Now my ichinensei at the ghetto school occasionally run around saying, “Ah! Thatto sukkusu!”
Japan is in the middle of a hip-hop fad right now, which depresses me oh so much. “Why?” you ask, “Isn’t that a good thing?” You might think, but remember that the media coming into Japan is limited. So hip-hop is defined through MTV. Not only that, but now they’re trying really hard to be ghetto. No. Just… no. They’re like wiggers, only ten times worse. My friends and I dubbed them “jiggers” for lack of a better term.
I went to a hip-hop club with a friend a few weeks ago, and pretty much everyone there was dressed the exact same way. The guys wore NY Yankees caps, to the side, a sweater, a coat, some “bling-bling” for good measure, and big pants. The girls looked like tit-less, ass-less versions of Beyonce from one of her videos. It’s like they went to K-Mart, bought “Hip-Hop in a Can” for $9.99, popped it open, and “Voila! I’m ghetto now!” No you’re not! Another thing about this club was that no one really danced. They all swayed to the music. In neatly arraigned lines. While holding cigarettes. That’s Japan for you.
At one point the DJ screamed out, “Everybody say HO!” and everyone just stood there in confusion. As a music lover, but first and foremost as an English teacher, I had to fight the urge to rush up there, take the mic and yell, “It’s a command form! You’re supposed to do it!”
I shouldn’t even have to tell you who this editorial is about.
For those of you lacking Batman-like deductive prowess, this is the return of the “Please!” and “I’ll get it one day” boy.
He also has a thing for trying to take my wristwatch. He asks me to give it to him, and when I tell him ‘no’ he tries to take it off my wrist. I don’t see the appeal. It’s a $20 Mossimo watch from Target, but it’s my cheap Target watch, damnit. I told him to ask his parents to buy him one for Christmas, but he just replied with, “That won’t work!” When he’s not trying to grab my dick, he’s trying to steal my watch.
It’s an interesting life I lead.
I love the sannensei at the ghetto school. They’re really nice, funny, energetic, and spirited. It’s such a change from the bastard sannensei from last year and the bastard ninensei I have now. I enjoy going to the sannensei classes, because it’s always fun and interesting.
They’re still pervs though.
I know I’ve said this before, but what you are about to read is a completely true story – nothing has been added, changed, or even embellished.
I was in a sannensei class at the ghetto school. This class happened to have two of the boys who’d cornered me and asked if I was a Cherry Boy. Usually I start class by asking the students some random English questions as a warm-up. Today, as my last question, I decided to open it up and ask the students if they had any questions for me. They all looked around nervously, until one boy raised his hand and in English asked, “Do you love your girlfriend?” I replied sharply, “No. Next Question!” This of course got their attention, and they wanted more info. My English teacher (the one with the big-headed boyfriend) was aware of everything, and realizing it was a sensitive subject, silenced the students and ushered them into the lesson.
When the sannensei graduated last March, I lost most of the kids I’d nicknamed. I still have Spread Your Legs, Little Evil, Glenda, and Mousey, but except for Mousey, they’ll all be leaving soon. Sadness.
It’s funny though. Looking at the ichinensei class, there are some kids you can tell, without even hearing their name, are someone’s little brother or sister. The resemblance is just uncanny. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to nickname them. Porn Star’s little sister is here, but she gives off a vibe that is decidedly less porn-star-esque. I considered naming her “Shannon Tweed,” (you have to be a child of late night Showtime skin-flicks to understand) but I couldn’t be that mean and just remembered her real name instead.
Rico Suave’s little brother is here too, but he’s not quite as Rico or Suave either. Maybe with a few more years he’ll work his way up to Rico Suave. I also considered naming him “Ricky Martin” but again, I’m not that evil. Or at least I like to think so.
I’ve been collecting Japanese oxymorons – things about this country that seem to directly contradict themselves. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and while I’ve learned the true face of Japan, there are still aspects that bug the hell out of me. I will probably never have answers to these questions. I think you have to be born Japanese to understand, but sometimes I think Japanese people don’t get it either.
1. How is it that everyone works so late, yet everything closes so early? How do people ever go to the bank, supermarket, hospital, etc.? And why do these things close so early if everyone is working so late?
I especially like the hospitals, which close at 12. 12 pm, that is. Or you can find one with “evening hours” that may close around 6 pm. Apparently, people who have jobs aren’t allowed to get sick. I have also concluded that being a doctor in Japan must be the easiest job ever. Arrive in the morning, see a few old folks, close up shop at noon, then go home. Holy shit did I ever go into the wrong profession! Show me the “Japan Exchange and Doctoring” program and I’ll be all over it like a crack fiend.
Let me introduce you to Moeko, a ninensei I met last year. My very first week at her school, I was in the gym watching a Sports Day practice. She came and sat down beside me, and had a conversation with me – in English! With her level, I thought she was an exceptionally skilled sannensei, so I was shocked to find out she was an ichinensei.
In class she’s always very quiet. She barely smiles at some of my jokes and antics, which crack the other students up. Whenever we do a writing exercise, most students just do the required 3-4 sentences, but Moeko turns in two paragraphs. Sometimes she’ll come up to me after class, and ask me a question in English or just start a conversation.
Her birthday was in November. I congratulated her, and she asked me when mine was. I told her it was in January. She said, in English, “I will make a card and present for you. Please look forward to it.” I thought that was just about the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, but I certainly didn’t expect her to remember, much less actually give me something.
When I do my self-introduction to my students, I claim to be an English-teaching superhero. I’m mostly joking, but my friends and I have found that living here does in fact grant us superpowers. Like Superman under a yellow sun, except it’s gaijin under the Rising Sun. So one night, we decided to catalogue all the superpowers we’d acquired. Yes, a lot of beer was involved.
Before I continue, I should explain exactly what a Gaijin is. In Japanese, the word for foreigner is ‘gaikokujin’. It’s formed by joining together three words: outside ‘gai’, country ‘koku’, and person ‘jin’. In colloquial Japanese, it is often shortened to just ‘gaijin’. Most closely translated: ‘outsider’.
Intentional or not, ‘gaijin’ is perhaps more accurate than ‘gaikokujin’. Westerners are outsiders in Japanese society, as the Japanese love to constantly remind us. Japan is one big in-group, and we Gaijin will always be on the outside with no hope of getting in. However, it’s because we are outsiders that we are able to exercise the superpowers catalogued below.
Disclaimer – the following entry is rated NC-17. Not that the others aren’t racy, but this one sets a new standard. If you find something that offends you, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I hesitate to tell this story, because it became a legend in Kyoto. I’d meet people on the train who’d say “Oh! You’re that octopus guy!” I’m not even making that up. I had been trying to contain it the best I could, but I figured it was hopeless when I ran into a friend who’d heard the story… while he was vacationing in Singapore. What the hell?! Anyway, I’ve given up on containment, and since this can also potentially embarrass the hell out of my ex-girlfriend (that bitch. Sorry, reflex), I’ve decided to share with you all.
One day last winter, my ex-girlfriend and I were fooling around, and she agreed to give me a blow-job (note the verb usage: “agreed”, not “offered.” That bitch). She said that she’d thought up a new technique, so she used this opportunity to try it out. She’d named it The Octopus. No, I will not tell you what “The Octopus” is; use your imaginations.
I was enjoying said Octopus, when she stopped suddenly and exclaimed “Oh no! It ripped.” I thought surely, she was talking about her lip, so I said, “What, your lip?” She responded, “No. You.” I looked down, and sure enough, there was blood. I suppose I should have freaked out, but strangely enough I was rather calm. I actually kind of wanted her to finish. The comic genius from Loveline, Adam Carolla, used to say that during sex, your body goes into a kind of Superman mode, where you become impervious to pain until well after the deed is done. I think I went into that mode. I stayed calmed her down, because she was freaking out at this point. I took a shower and we went to bed, with me pondering the events in my life that would lead me to lying in bed with a ripped dick thanks to a maneuver called The Octopus.