Corn Soup Confessions

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You could say that I am a Teacher (Talented English-speaking puppet). It would be more accurate to say however, that I am a part-time Teacher (see above), because, that’s what I am.   So three days a week I wake up pretty damn early in order to A) do the training I need to do in the morning and B) finish said training with enough time to cry about the cold/heat/pain while I take a shower, then stuff a piece of white bread and a can of cold tuna fish into my mouth as I throw clothing on, pack my gym bag and hope I don’t forget one of the many articles I need in order to survive my training (kickboxing) after work. These mornings are generally hectic and this is all taking place in the dark starting at 0400.

I have to be out the door and walking/running/hobbling to the train station by 0615, being late, even by 5 minutes is not an option since the distance I have to travel is so insanely far and the number of conveyances I am forced to take and perfectly time to catch just right are so overly complex, even five minutes late to rub one out before work is not really an option these days. I know, bummer. This can become a problem on a crowded train when an office woman in a tight, attractive skirt is packed into the car with 50 other people and decides to Lego lock her ass directly to my crotch.  That rolling rhythm of the train on the tracks, the warmth, the early morning, the direct contact…it can all lead to…an uncomfortable equation. Anyway, I was at school on Tuesday, shivering, watching snow fall outside as I split my time between grading the last 3rd grade exams, contemplating my existence (thinking about sex and training and movies/books I hate/love) and getting bored, then wandering around the hall in the freezing cold near the vending machines and student shoe lockers mumbling to myself. Third grade junior high schoolers have been studying English for at least 6 years and this is their LAST high school exam.  One question on the test worth five points was:

I think that having a girlfriend is good because I can spend my holidays with someone special.

The student has to change the underlined vocabulary to fit them personally. We have been doing prints like this all year so the format is very familiar to them as is the content of each question.  I was told to make this exam easy because as one teacher (Japanese, full-time, REAL Teacher ie. Talented Japanese speaking puppet) put it to me “They have basically already graduated so if you give them a bad grade on the test, everyone will be mad at you.” Got it. So Yusuke’s answer to the above question is…

I think the having a dog is fun because I can eat my dog with a dog food.

It is… snowing like a bastard outside and somewhere on this mountain within this complex of “education” I can here some gang of adolescence screaming all bloody murder.  I once told a girl, about 6 years ago, after I had  my first Japanese lesson, I had told her “Anata ha totemo Mazui desu”.  I meant to say you are very cute, but I had confused the word for “cute” with the one for “bad/ugly/no good” and had told her “You are very ugly”.  I remember that she didn’t find my new-found Japanese ability too terribly impressive. In the hall way, I stand shivering in the cold because they refuse to close the doors and Japanese schools have no insulation or for that matter heaters in the common areas so I stand there in front of the line of vending machines shivering in my suit jacket with tie and scarf wrapped around my head, plumes of steam from my breath filling the air as I contemplate infinity and whether or not to get a corn soup for 70 yen. I don’t really talk, it talks all by itself. “Corn soup Corn soup we likes it, we likes it, corn soup Mt. Fuji, we had it there. 70 yen. I have 70 yen. TITTIES its cold. Corn soup Corn ok ok ok ok ” Inside the Teacher’s room it’s silent and empty except for me and the snow is just coming down down outside.  The exam in front of me reads:

I want to meet a Girl that is fun and interesting but a hard worker.

Sami, this is a cute and sort of shy girl in one of my 3rd grade classes, she writes:

I want to meet a boy that is cool, tall a muscle and likes me but is angry at me often.

I blink and then stare at the paper cup of corn soup that sits ominously on the desk in front of me. For a moment, I imagine myself balling up Sami’s exam, dipping it in the now cold corn soup and then eating it.  I continue to scowl at the cup of corn soup. The next question on the exam reads:

Do you think Michael Jackson died too early?

Masato writes: “No, because he was very very old. : ( “

Emi writes: “I don’t know but I like his the song “But”.

Raymond writes: “Yes, because he is almost my age.”

When I finally manage to lift the cup of corn soup to my lips and taste it, I decide I would rather pour it all over my head and shit my pants  than drink this, so I set it back on my desk in its rightful place.  The snow looks like it is falling quite heavily and I pray to whoever, begging them to not let this complicate my bus schedule to get back to the “world” and train on time. I walk into the Full time teachers room to turn in the exams I have checked.  In the conference room I see a kid from the first grade junior high-class I teach and I walk in there and ask him “Are you ok?” Students in the conference room are usually there to be interrogated by teachers and forced to write long, detailed confessions about their respective offenses.  The style used at the school is a mirror image of what Japanese police do to suspects to illicit all those false confessions they are so damned proud of.  Hours and hours of isolation and talk and questions.  It reminds me of a lot of my relationships. He looks at me, slouching in his chair, one arm hanging off the back of it, his neck tie loose and disheveled, the parody of an exhausted salary man.  He used to go to an international school so he speaks some English and answers me with “yeah, I’m cool”.  I stare at him for a minute, the stack of exams in my right hand.

He isn’t even looking at me. I am transparent to him.

” So what did you do?”  I ask him, I can see out the windows behind him the snow falling. He looks right at me. “I touched a girl.” The lucky bastard. Now he smiles, and motions toward his crotch “Down there…” now he is smiling and staring straight at me.  I look at him and blink once, twice, three times.  “Ok…uh..” Well done? “…take it easy.” I say and I  quickly leave. At the gym that night, I have to run outside in the freezing rain.

Learn all the Dirty Secrets for Teaching in Japan with Build a killer robot or…? and Adventures in Babysitting: Teaching in Japan.