Goodbye, School of Peace
So I went to my last week at the School of Peace. I’d just finished my final stint ever at the Ghetto School – one down, two to go. I wasn’t too sad about leaving The Ghetto, but the School of Peace was a different story. I actually liked working there, and there would be a few people I really would miss, such as Ms. S, Principal Peace, and of course, Ultimate Sweetness.
The weekend before the final week at The Ghetto, I had received a call from Ms. Forehead, giving me a proper heads-up about what they wanted to do for my last class. I got no such call from the School of Peace. Not that this was abnormal – it was not at all uncommon for a teacher to drop by my desk and say, “Hey, um, we have class in about an hour…do you have any ideas?” I suppose this is one of the few jobs where someone can actually get away with this kind of thing, because I certainly don’t see it working in any other profession…
Nurse: Hello, Doctor?
Doc: Yes, what is it?
Nurse: Well, we have brain surgery operation coming up…
Doc: I see. What’s the timetable? Two months from now? Three months?
Nurse: Um, 15 minutes from now.
Doc: …WHAT THE FUCK?!
Nurse: We’ve already scalped him ‘n shit, so somebody’s gotta operate, and you do happen to be the brain surgeon…
English teaching is a far cry from brain surgery, absolutely. But still, some advance warning would be nice. Having become a three-year veteran, I came to anticipate the random calls to class, and always have some sort of backup/fallback plan at the ready. Perhaps this is why the teachers kept doing it to me, then they knew they could get away with it. I always wanted to just kind of sit there, give them a blank look, and say “No.” But heading into my final week, I hadn’t done it yet, and it was kind of too late to start.
I arrived on Monday morning, and Ms. S soon came over to let me know that I would be having a ninensei class with Mr. Horse Face third period. She said that Mr. Horse Face himself would come by eventually to plan the class with me. Mr. Horse Face has a really bad track record with this, but it’s my last week, and this could possibly be my last class with the ninensei. Surely, he won’t slip up this time, right?
First and second periods come and go. Nothing. Third period comes, and Mr. Horse Face literally has not said one word to me until, after the bell has rung, he says, “Ok, let’s go to class.” Now, given that I have had NO preparation or planning time whatsoever, I’m kind of thinking that maybe this is just going to be a regular class. Something where planning is unnecessary, like the Human Tape Recorder lessons. It is Monday after all – maybe I’ll have class with the ninensei later this week, and that’ll be the last class. Yeah, that all makes sense.
We get to class, and after the standard greeting, Mr. Horse Face addresses the class. “Now everybody, this is your last class with Az-sensei.” (turns to me) “So, um, do you have any ideas?”
….Goddamn Horse Face.
Getting the whole, “So, we’ve got class…do you have any ideas?” thing is annoying, right? It’s annoying an hour before class. It’s annoying ten minutes before class. But it’s a special kind of annoying to get hit with it five minutes into your last class ever with these kids. And I don’t mean “Fun!” annoying, like trying to jump over that impossible platform in Mario Bros to try and get the power-up. I mean annoying like, in Tetris, you’ve built yourself a nice stack, and you’re just waiting for the Tetris piece, and the damn game keeps sending you square blocks. Or, the entire game of Battletoads.
I really, really, really wanted to just stand there, say “no” and then just stare at him for 50 minutes. But, this was my LAST class with these kids! If anything, I and the students would have been the losers. So I modified the lesson I did for the Ghetto School and used it here. And by “modify,” I mean “use the Bizarro World” version. Seriously – in the Ghetto School version, there were parts where I took into account kids in the back playing Game Boy, listening to music, jumping out windows, playing with their cell phones, or having raw unprotected sex. But for the School of Peace version, I had to change that to a class of 30 kids paying rapt, undivided attention.
After class, my favorite Dynamic Duo came up to hassle me one more time. No, I don’t mean Ms. Americanized and Ms. Forehead. I don’t mean beer and steak. I’m not even talking about strawberry syrup and cheesecake. I’m taking about Penis Boy and Gropey. These two have formed quite a bond (over their perversion?). I imagine they could one day form an elite crime-fighting unit. Upon chasing the criminal down, Penis Boy could just whip his junk out, and while the criminal is distracted, Gropey could go feel him up a bit. I don’t know about you, but if I’d been the criminal, I’d drop whatever it was I was stealing and check myself into the nearest jail immediately.
Anyway, Penis Boy and Gropey come for a talk.
Penis Boy: Aw, you’re leaving.
Me: Wow, you seem genuinely sad.
Penis Boy: Well, I’m probably never going to be this close to black penis again. I wanted to see how great it was.
Me: Congratulations. That’s among the most fucked up things I’ve ever heard.
Gropey: You don’t understand because you live with it everyday. But for us Japanese, it’s like a legend, or a myth.
Me: …And thus it will stay that way.
Penis Boy: Oh well. Look at the bright side. Maybe his replacement will be a hot foreign girl.
Gropey: Yeah! With big tits!
Me: Sorry to burst your bubble, but my replacement is male.
Me: …And he’s not black.
You might figure that this kind of behavior would subside once these boys get older. …Nope, not necessarily.
Principal Peace: So, do you know who’s replacing you yet?
Me: Yeah, a guy-
Principal Peace: …Guy?
Principal Peace: …DAMN! I was really hoping for a hot girl this time around.
Principal Peace: I was hoping for one when you came. Do you have any idea how disappointed I was? You are like the complete opposite of a hot girl.
Me: …I’m not quite sure what to say to that.
Principal Peace: And then you went and stayed for three years, so I kept waiting, and I kept thinking, “It’s gotta be a girl next!” But then you go and crush my dreams.
Me: …Nice to know my time was appreciated here? But anyway, you’ve got Ms. C here now, isn’t that enough?
Principal Peace: Ms. C is REALLY beautiful.
Me: Well, there you go.
Principal Peace: But, you shouldn’t say those kinds of things – you have a girlfriend.
Me: Well, you’re married.
Principal Peace: Yeah? But I’m Japanese. It doesn’t count.
Me: What, infidelity?
Principal Peace: Precisely! How many Japanese couples do you know that are actually faithful to each other?
Me: Well…uh…damn, you’ve got a point.
Principal Peace: Which is exactly why I wanted a cute foreign girl, but you had to go and crush those dreams, didn’t you?
Eventually, we came to Friday, my last day at the School of Peace. After finishing all of my classes, Ms. C asked me to come to the auditorium with her. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I knew better than to expect some animalistic surprise goodbye sex. What I found waiting for me was the entire ichinensei class. As I entered the auditorium, they gathered around me and sung one of those sad chorus songs – you know, thanks for the memories and see you again, that type of deal. I’ll admit, I had a little something in my eye there.
Then, the ichinensei sent two representatives – a boy and girl from each class, to read me a speech they had prepared in English (with a lot of help from Ms. C, of course). Whatever false bravado machismo I might have had, went flying right out the nearest window. The speech they read me went a little something like this.
Thank you for teaching us English for the past four months. Our time together was really short. But we enjoyed your class very much. So we are happy to have met you. When we first saw you, we were a little scared. Because you are very big. But now, we know that you have to be big, to hold all your kindness. Thank you for everything. Good luck with your next adventure!
One of the girls who helped to read this speech also happened to be Moeko’s little sister.
Afterwards, I went to the English Club, where the girls had put on some English skits for my benefit. In one skit, Daffy played a (male!) English teacher who was having trouble with two bad girls in his class. As these are School of Peace students, they wouldn’t know bad behavior if it smacked them in the face with a can of tuna. They did try their best though, refusing to do their homework and talking impolitely to the teacher. One girl hiked her skirt up and unbuttoned the top two buttons on her shirt, as she’d heard from me one day that this was the popular thing to do at the Ghetto School. Of course, she wasn’t even close to the levels of indecency that some of the Ghetto School kids reach. Her skirt, after all, was only hiked up to a few inches above her knee – scandalous for the School of Peace. After the skit, she came to me to talk about it.
Her: Man, this is so embarrassing! But, do I look like a Ghetto School student?
Me: Well…not yet. You’d have to hike your skirt up a LOT higher than that.
Her: Really? Oh my God! Well, how about this? (pulls the skirt up a few centimeters)
Me: Not yet.
Her: Really? Okay, now? (pulls the skirt up a little more)
Me: Still not even close.
Her: Serious? Okay, how about now? (skirt is maybe to the halfway point of her thigh)
Me: That’s only halfway there, sweetheart.
Her: …Oh my GOD.
In another skit…well…I honestly have no idea what went on. All I know is that at one point, Ultimate Sweetness was wearing a Chinese dress, and got poisoned upon eating a box of Ritz crackers. And it should go without saying, that the image of Sweetness chowing down on Ritz while wearing a Chinese dress, simply just broke the universe with its cuteness.
On my way out of the school, I noticed a few boys hanging around the gates who had graduated just this past March. Among them was Mousey. I was a little surprised – Mousey grew a little in the four months since he’d graduated. Not only height, but he’d bulked up a little a well. He also seemed to be in training to be a Jr. Host or something – he’d dyed his hair and was wearing his uniform shirt with far too many open buttons than is ever necessary. I can’t say I ever approve of the host look, but I did kind of like it on Mousey. Maybe I was just happy to see him as something other than a runt of a kid.
I tell Mousey that it’s my last day at the school, and he tries to play it off nonchalantly. I point out to him that he seems to have gotten much bigger since the last time I saw him. “Yeah, well,” he says, “we can’t always stay the same way forever. Sometimes you gotta move on, grow up.”
Amazing that something so fitting would come from Mousey of all people, as I left the School of Peace for the last time.
(Incidentally, for all of you who are concerned that this marks the end of my time in Japan/the end of this site – reading is fundamental.)