Corn Soup Confessions
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.
There is so much win in this post. I was cracking up (but felt bad about it) about the girl who wants a boyfriend who is mad at her often. That kid at the end should have gotten a high five at least…c’mon Erik! We need to encourage such behavior.
It think the girl who wants the abusive BF needs a high five as well to be honest. I always see her and instantly want to hug her. Obviously, this would be much more trouble than it is worth. Maybe I should ask this kid to do it.
As always, thanks for even reading.
strong piece of writing , i was hardly able to take my eyes off while reading ,your blog post is so to say , attention grabber .
Great work ,nice description .
Cheers man. Im just trying to convey what its like at whatever moment I happen to be stuck in when I start typing. Sometimes it works, sometimes no.
“I want to meet a boy that is cool, tall a muscle and likes me but is angry at me often.”
with this, you have the key to the adolescent female japanese market.
excellent piece of writing.
Good point. If Im really brainy, I can employ this new found info and get to prison ASAP.
I have no time to waste.
what company do you teach through? direct hire or something like Interac?
My Japan blog: http://wakarahen.wordpress.com
It would be uh, unwise for me to get into my company details on this blog. Although, some people there read this, over all it might not go over too well for me to be naming names etc. Anyway, from what I understand, working for Interac is about as much fun as being prison raped.
You make a good safety point. I will never mention my company details either.
Sadly, my American college students don’t write much better. In their own language.
I suppose that is good news. Recently, a senior in one of my classes came to me because she needed help on some questionnaire she was required to fill out as she is GOING TO UNIVERSITY IN THE USA. I was shocked. The two years I have had her, she has never once expressed anything vaguely resembling interest in English and her scores etc are mediocre at best.
When talent is lacking, having rich parents that will do anything you want is a real bonus it would seem.
Or she failed her Japanese University exams, tis the season, and was going with option B: go to America.
Good point….but I doubt it. From the mountain “school” they can easily transition into the affiliated university. So, its unlikely that was it. I think it is more likely that she didn`t get the memo about University in the states being a tad more difficult than it is here (FYI 4 the Uninformed: University in Japan is basically a 4 year vacation revolving around club activities and binge drinking and sexually explicit affairs. Not unlike Uni in the states but without ANY academic expectations what so ever), and she is planning a 4 year American vacation on Mommy and Daddies bill. But can you blame her? I can`t. After 6 years in that prison, that juvenile corrections center they call a school, I would be starring in my own production of “Escape from Tokyo” with Kurt Russel doing a fucking cameo riding a unicorn tossing me a full clip for my AK-47. This place is horrific.
You teach English yet you don’t have mastery of when to use the apostrophe? Stop using an apostrophe when you are simply pluralizing a word. For example “the boys went outside” is not “the boy’s went outside”. The apostrophe is a possessive thing, like the boy’s shirt (meaning one boys shirt) or the boys’ shirts (meaning a bunch of boys shirts.) I find it a bit ironic that you mock your students when you so clearly don’t have mastery of the language.
Actually, I am a “communication consultant” not a grammar Nazi. The Japanese teachers are amazingly proficient at that stuff so I don’t worry about it. Then again, most of the time they cant form a coherent series of sentences with either asking me questions about “past-perfect” or using some insanely unnecessary word like “discombobulated” or “bamboozled”. ENGLISH- a wild ride.
Wow I think that may be the first net troll I have come across on your blog. Yay I don’t feel so bad for drunkin half asleep posts with horrible use of my native language. A troll means the idiot ( I/me/Myself) am not so bad anymore. Thank you net troll. My head hurts, f’n cheap wine.
This was a fun post to read, especially because I’m about to leave to teach English in China, and I can see something like that coming my way.
Yo this is funny too. You can write son, nice. I gots to get to J-land, sounds sweet.
“J-land”? ok man, come on over. I’m having a ball.
I read that whole thing (which was really great) but the only thing I can think of now that I’m done is GOD corn soup is shit.
Haha….corn soup is an excuse. It’s my out after I lose my shit and finally start throwing grenades. Canned corn soup: The Commercialized crime against humanity.