I went to work at the School of Peace wearing a Superman t-shirt one day. Silly me, I thought this wasn’t going to be a big deal.
What I didn’t realize is that to the kids, this is more or less a challenge. “Superman, huh? We’ll see about that!” Penis Boy (now a ninensei) was the first to step up. You know, since I last saw him, Penis Boy’s gotten a bit bigger. He used to be kinda scrawny, but it seems as if he’s caught up with his classmates at least. Mr. Kancho on the other hand, is still as puny as ever. I think he may have shrunk even, like someone left him out in the sun for too long and he shriveled up like a California raisin.
Anyway, Penis Boy comes up and pats me on the logo of the shirt. “Oh, Superman! Super Teacher!” he says. He then grabs the shirt and pulls it up. “Hey!” I protest. “What the hell are you doing?” “I wanted to see if you were all ripped like Superman,” Penis Boy says. Sorry kid, it’s just a shirt.
And believe me, no one is more disappointed about this than I.
Gropey comes over and grabs a handful of chest. “Wow, now THAT’s hard!” he says. What can I say? I’m like an improperly cooked Pilsbury cookie or something – hard on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle. I’m working on it, damnit. Note to self – next time you break a collarbone, in your inability to move/properly exercise, don’t just order delivery pizzas for dinner. Additional note to self – don’t break your collarbone again, but in the unfortunate event that it happens, don’t rely on delivery pizza.
But why is it that every time I walk down this particular hallway of this school, I end up getting gang-molested? I remember back when I was in high school and they had us poor guys so freaked out over the whole sexual harassment in the workforce thing, it was like you couldn’t even wave your penis in the general direction of a female co-worker without the threat of getting sued. Now I’m getting felt up worse than a drunken sorority slut in Cancun during Spring Break. How does this work?
I went home for Spring Vacation. But I didn’t go alone. My current girlfriend came with me, who actually wanted to visit America (she’d never been) and wanted to meet my folks. I kind of wanted her to meet my parents too and get their opinion of her. I brought the last one, the infamous ex, home as well, and that didn’t go so well. My parents were nice and welcoming to her of course but I found out later that they hated her. Come to think of it, pretty much everyone (except me somehow) hated her. My parents, all my friends. I could’ve introduced her to Mother Teresa, and Teresa would have spit in her face and kicked her in the shin. Upon learning I’d be bringing a girlfriend home again, my dad reportedly said “Great, he’s bringing another hoochie-cootchie back with him.” That is an exact quote.
This time however things went quite well. My parents really liked her, and they got along well despite the language barrier. My girlfriend doesn’t speak a whole lot of English and it took Mom all of three days to learn “konnichi wa” (and she still butchers the pronunciation). Despite that, they still conversed using what they knew.
Mom: Kyoto seems like a beautiful city. I’d like to go visit someday.
Her: Yeah. Come on.
I went home for the Spring Vacation in March. This was a necessary thing – anyone living in Japan for any length of time needs to get out of the country every now and then. It’s like hitting a giant reset button. Novocain for the soul, as it were.
But you know what, I forgot just how frustrating our airport security has become.
I’m shocked there’s still tourism in America. All the security checks and endless forms and fingerprinting and what not and God help you if you don’t speak English. I didn’t even want to go through that shit, and this is my home. You know what, here’s a giant FUCK YOU to all the terrorists of the world who’ve made this shit so frustrating. FUCK YOU with a rusted coat hanger. I’d kick every last one of you in the balls if I could. Why can’t you terrorize something else, like the muni bus or golf carts or something? And a very special FUCK YOU to the asshole who tried to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb, so now in addition to taking off my coat, watch, belt, pants, and spleen at security, now I gotta take off my shoes too. It’s ridiculous.
I flew from Kansai International Airport in Osaka to Los Angeles, then to San Francisco. After arriving in Los Angeles after going though the lengthy process in customs, I had to get my checked baggage, then take it BACK to security to have it checked in again. Then I had to go through security yet again. It’s crazy. I remember when I took my vacation in Singapore, the security process went a little something like.
Agent: So, are you a terrorist?
Me: Hmm, probably not. I wasn’t one yesterday.
Agent: Okay, cool. You can pass.
If I was ever on a plane that got hijacked, I think more than anything I’d be amazed that the terrorist managed to sneak something deadlier than a spork through security (have they started stopping people for sporks yet? You know it’s coming). They stop you for anything too. I once got stopped because I had one of those Tot 50 Mini Staplers in my backpack. Yes, a mini stapler. It was hot pink to boot (c’mon, gimme a break, I bought it in the mid-90’s, hot pink was in, and acceptable). Seriously, what am I going to do with a hot pink mini stapler? If I was captain on a plane and some dude was trying to hijack with a hot pink mini stapler, I think I’d just give him the plane out of respect for the sheer balls it would take to even attempt it. “What is that? Is that … a mini stapler? Is that pink? Alright, you know what dude, you can just have it, you got some cajones man.”
My eyes locked with Watson’s across the sea of graduates. Slowly, he began to make his way over to me. I don’t even think he was really walking, it was like he was just gravitating closer to me. As the distance between us slowly closed, I started to think back to the interesting history me and this kid have had over the past 3 years.
For my self-introduction to the students, I put on a red cape and became an English teaching superhero. Don’t ask. After one ichinensei class, the then unknown Watson walks up to me and, come to think of it, blocks my exit from the classroom.
Him: Hey, that’s a cool cape!
Me: Thanks. It’s my superhero cape.
Him: Let me see it!
Me: Well, I really have to get back to the teachers room.
Him: Mine! *he snatches the cape out of my bag* Now I’M the superhero!
He drapes the cape around his own shoulders. I tried to get it back but he ran out of reach. I pursued a little bit, but Watson showed he was serious about this cape – he took off sprinting down the hallway, with the cape majestically flapping behind him as he went. I chased him for maybe 10 meters before giving up. On a hot, muggy summer day in Kyoto you don’t really even feel like existing, let alone running the 100-m dash in pursuit of a 12-year old Japanese boy wearing a Superman cape. I figured it would turn up eventually, and if not, it wasn’t that expensive so I could always buy another one.
I was in the teachers room later when another teacher, the art teacher I think, came back with the cape.
Her: Um, excuse me? New Mr. English teacher? Hi, one of my students had this in my class, I heard it was yours.
Me: Ah, my superhero cape! Thanks, I was looking for that.
Her: Ah. Your superhero cape?
Me: Yeah. I’m an English-teaching superhero.
Her: English … teaching … superhero
Me: Yep. Red cape.
Her: Right. Welcome to Japan