"working on my faults and cracks..."


If you want better answers, ask better questions

They caught me off guard again.

Just like that time when I was asked to assist with a silly dance number for a "casual" little "track and field day" which unsurprisingly turned out to be a sweltering ten hour goose-stepping bastardization of "fun" in a Japanese middle school. Or rather, as much "fun" as one could conceivably have during 'hell week' in training to be a Navy SEAL.

I can't blame them for unintentionally leaving out a few minute details here and there, but when the outcome is so blatantly beyond the expectations laid out in our weekly meeting, it's hard to not feel like that well-meaning but naive father who allows his teenage daughter to "have a few friends over," and "watch some movies." In the spirit of good sportsmanship, he even volunteers pizza and root beer floats. But he comes home betrayed. His beautiful home has been invaded--systematically trashed--shattered by loud music, and reeking of cheap alcohol; high school kids he's never met are doing keg-stands on his mahogany coffee table, necking on the leather couch without 'slipcovers,' and urinating off his second story balcony. There are baby goats swinging by their rhinestone collars from the kitchen ceiling fan, and midgets being tossed like horseshoes over the neighbor's hedge into his backyard pool.
In disbelief, he stands on the porch, mouth agape. Immobile.

The plain cheese pizza slips from his frozen hands, falling to the trampled, beer-soaked 'welcome' mat. Physically ejected from the doorway, the remnants of a failed "flaming sack o' poo" prank, pitifully burn out on the grass behind him.

Minus the poo and the booze, for those who profoundly suck at reading between the proverbial Japanese lines (re: 'me'), consequences like these are all too familiar at my school.

They royally burned me again last weekend, for what I naively assumed to be another minor school advertising/showoff day where we put our happy faces on and piddle around in some makeshift pristine classroom setting in front of more unresponsive prospects. Nothing more than another routine oiling of the "plopaganda" machine, right? What can I say? We sing our little English songs, do our little English dance, play "pin the hamburger on the foreigner's face," and then I get to go home before 2:00, none the wiser.

But it wasn't another PR stunt on Saturday. I should have known this a full month ago when afternoon class time was mysteriously replaced with preparations and programming for "gakushu happyoukai (lit: 'learning recital')." I took it as a blessing--divine relief from repeated ball-busting sessions at the diminutive hands of the 2nd grade homeroom. Several weeks too late, the bliss came to a crashing halt the night before the main event, when I found myself still at the office at 8pm translating, transcribing, cursing, printing, and then folding some 400 copies of a drama speech script, scheduled to follow the schoolgirl dance troupe, but precede the bare-knuckle karate street fight "demonstration."
Naturally, I cringed when they asked me for help in hanging "a few things" from the auditorium rafters later that same night. Hang what? My fractured mind ran circles around the horror of the possibilities apparent in a month's worth of clandestine preparations. Fuel hoses for the pyrotechnics? A live chimpanzee obstacle course? Human-sized birdcages wherein gyrating strippers would throw candied umeboshi and dried squid to a delighted audience?

You can imagine my relief when it was just a few boards of poster paper spelling out the event's name.

Fool me once, burn up in my face, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me again for not learning to properly read between the Japanese lines. Next time, swear to god I'll be ready.

You say "English Club open house" and I'm bringing my M-16 and a case full of ammunition.

And dollar bills for the strippers.

4 contributions to this piece:

Seth said...

"pin the hamburger on the foreigner's face"

Laughed my ass off when it came to that.

Sorry for the getting burned

Dagbert said...

What? You've never played it?

Not to be confused with "taco + Mexican's face" or "crepe + Frenchie's face."

Kids love it. Nothing like a good stereotype to reinforce the fun of learning a foreign language.

Valerie said...

I've always wanted to dance in a cage.

Where do I sign up?

Crazy is as Crazy do said...


This is why I have refused numerous attempts by well-meaning-busy-bodies to push me towards education. I like other ppl kids for the most part, and I like helping ppl... but that doesn't translate to talented teaching, nor to having the patience to deal with whiny-bratty kids, and weird events like the one you described...

Sorry about all the junk you had to go through... *wince*

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